An Open Letter to Internet-Based Advertisers

Dear Advertisers,

Please revise your approach.

I’m sure you’re probably wondering how it is that you put billions of dollars into advertising on some of the most popular websites in the world and yet don’t seem to get nearly the return that you’ve always gotten through, for instance, television and radio commercials. I can explain. The reason is extremely simple: you are annoying. Annoying does not sell. Let me clarify.

When you force us to watch a two-minute advertisement before we can watch the one-minute video clip that we clicked on, that’s annoying.

When you have your ad pop up over top of the content that we’re trying to read, that’s annoying.

When you sneak ads right into the middle of the content we’re trying to read, so that we lose our flow and have to scan the page to find where the content continues, that’s annoying.

When you pay search engines to make sure that your website is the first result regardless of the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with what we searched for, that’s annoying.

When you have audio ads blare through our speakers the second we open your website, and hide the ad in the darkest corner of the page so that the only way we can stop the onslaught is to turn off our speakers, that’s annoying.

When you use information gathered from social sites to aim ads at us by trying to be cute and doing things like plastering our names on t-shirts (“It’s a TRACEY thing!”), that’s annoying, and also pretty condescending, for the record.

Put simply, pretty much everything you do on the internet is painfully, tear-jerkingly, fist-through-the-computer-screen level annoying, and that’s why it doesn’t work. When your ad blocks what I’m trying to view, screams through my speakers, or implies that I’m an idiot (“It’s a Tracey thing”? Seriously?) it does not endear me to your company. It does not make me want to buy your product. It makes me – and billions of people around the world just like me – want to avoid your products for the rest of my life so that maybe you’ll go bankrupt and not be able to afford anymore ridiculous, goddamn, annoying ads.

Hey, I get it. The internet is a huge opportunity for hocking your wares, and you want to take advantage of that. But maybe be a little smarter (and a lot less annoying) about it. When I finish reading a book I always check out the little ads that they put in the back for other books that the author has written…that’s effective marketing. But if those ads were right in the middle of a chapter, I’d be extremely annoyed that the flow of the story was ruined and be significantly more likely to avoid that publisher from then on. We’re all used to commercials on television and they don’t bother us so much because TV shows are edited to allow for the short breaks that commercials fill, but can you imagine the outrage that would happen if a car commercial started playing half an hour into a big blockbuster film playing in theaters? Knowing that, would it be so terrible to put your annoying ads at the end of the online videos that we’re trying to watch? Off to the side somewhere of the articles we’re trying to read? And maybe, just maybe, try to avoid the whole “social media information gathering” nonsense that just gives us the impression that you must think we’re all mindless spenders who would buy any stupid piece of crap with our names on it?

Again: annoying does not sell. We may be a society of consumers, but we will still actively avoid consuming things that piss us off.

Please revise your approach.

9 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Internet-Based Advertisers

  1. Yes. Well put. 😛 I’ve been enjoying AdBlocker, because I held out as long as I could, and got tired of Japanese ads, which are even worse… How many times could you stand a preroll of Pantene Pro-V shampoo, when all it is, is a guy with helmet hair telling a woman with perfect hair that her hair is damaged… and look, shampoo, rinse, “wow! It’s so healthy now”… except it’s exactly the same.

    …that’s the only ad youtube showed me… for 4 MONTHS.

    • Oh man. That would be absolutely intolerable. I can’t stand the ads in front of YouTube videos ANYWAY, but if they’re showing you the same one over and over and over and over and over…. How can they possibly believe that this is an effective marketing scheme? After an hour on Youtube you’d be more likely to go out and burn down a Pantene building than buy their product. >.>

  2. I second what Alex said – AdBlocker is amazing. There are a few sites where I’ll turn it off, especially if it’s someone I know personally who’s using their website for any small amount of income they can get (by monetizing with ads), but yeah. Most of the time ads are just annoying.

    • Honestly, I don’t mind a little ad here and there, but I LOATHE pop-ups, and I feel only slightly less hatred toward those ads that they stick RIGHT in the middle of the content so that you have to scroll down to find where you left off. They make my eye twitch. ._.

  3. Agreed, ads drive me crazy. I also recently got AdBlocker (ads must be getting extra annoying?) and my life is so much more serene. I wouldn’t have needed it if people were smarter and less in my face about ads.

  4. hey there! i’m loving your recent posts!
    I also blogged about “An Open Letter to the Man Who Opened My Eyes To the World”. How can someone give the whole world to you and in a snap they’re gone?

    here’s what my recent post is all about…

    would be so nice to hear from you! 🙂

    cheers! xx

    deanna ( )

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