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What consumers hate about online ads

Interesting insights from iMediaConnection’s interview with Cia Romano, chief executive officer and founder of Interface Guru and an evangelist for end users.

Interface Guru (IG) measures ad success by user response to five factors consistently observed in the lab: orientation, permission, interactivity, relevance and speed.

I wanted to include this article in today’s entries because of this comment, which addresses the blurring of advertising vs. content:

Ads, unless they appear at the appropriate time and place, are devalued as compared to content (i.e., if users click on an ad they thought was content, their response is, “oh, it’s just an ad”). So at a minimum, it’s in the best interests of advertisers to make sure their ads are clearly presented as such, because users are in the driver’s seat– and they want to choose the experience path. They will look at ads, but only once they have found their content target, or at least are confident that they are on the right path to the desired content.

What Ms. Romano is saying is that once we think we’re viewing the content we are looking for (or at least we’re on the right path to the content we’re looking for), we’ll be receptive to looking at and presumably clicking on the ads.

Her advice to publishers? Don’t try to fool users, place ads at a relevant point on the experience path, give the users some control, and they are likelier to pay attention to an ad.

She also addresses what she calls two quick hot issues. One is the automatic launching of audio, which I personally find tremendously annoying. Interface Guru’s studies say that people want to know the audio is there and have the choice on whether or not to listen to it.

This goes to IG’s assertion that users want to decide how, when and in what form they experience content.

The other hot issue are popups — IG’s studies say that people are annoyed by ads that pop up over the home page before you can read it.

It’s the social equivalent of inviting friends to dinner, then asking them to buy Tupperware when they arrive at your doorstep. At least say hello first and let them come inside before you start to pitch them– unless, of course, you don’t mind offending them.

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