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Internet Travel Monitor - Marketing, Research & Tech

March 30, 2016

For Online Ads, Simplicity May Be the Key

New study finds that simple, straightforward ads perform better


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There’s such a thing as being too clever, and it’s a malady that appears to be infecting many online advertisements. The page takeovers, the ads that dance across the site, the videos that pop up suddenly beneath your mouse – these ideas may seem like a good way to get attention, but they may actually backfire on advertisers. That’s according to a new study from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. It concludes that in the increasingly cluttered environment online, advertisers often are better off with simple messages. Michel Wedel, professor of marketing at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, talks to Media Life about how quickly people can recognize ads, when complex ads work, and why it’s good to make your point quickly with digital ads.

What did you find most interesting or most surprising about this report?


Consumers’ ability to recognize ads in exposures as short as 100 miliseconds.

What’s the most important thing media buyers and planner can take from it?

The type of advertising that will be effective depends on the expected duration consumers get exposed to it.

And this may differ a lot between different media.

How has the space in which ads are served up online become cluttered and hectic? Can that hurt advertisers?

Yes, online advertising has increased, and the resulting clutter makes ads less effective, especially because consumers recognize them quickly and then often avoid them.

Why doesn’t complexity pay off online? Are there are other media where it does?

Complexity pays off anytime consumers are willing and able to spend time on the ad.

This may happen in some online contexts, and for some products, but not for others.

Disruptive ads seem to be a big thing the past few years, with page takeovers and other gimmicks. Does your research suggest these would be less effective, because they are more complex?

These ads may work in contexts where exposure durations are longer.

What type of ads earned positive reviews and why?

In short exposures typical ads work. In longer exposures atypical, more complex or original ads work.

Did that surprise you at all? Why or why not?

What was surprising is that false front ads, which pretend to be for something they are not, don’t work in any of these conditions. They are not recognized under short exposures and not liked much under longer exposures.

Do you think enough agencies understand the need to capture the viewer’s attention in a split second, based on what you see of banner ads on the internet?

No, I do not think they do. Our studies are the first to demonstrate this phenomenon, and it is very important for advertisers to start thinking about it.


Copyright 2016 Media Life Magazine. All rights reserved. From http://www.medialifemagazine.com. By Diego Vasquez.
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