Would you actually save online ads?
Most people think search and destroy when it comes to Internet advertising, but how about keeping them for later perusal?
This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.
I am the advertiser's mortal enemy. On TV, I record almost everything I watch and click past the commercials. If the programming is live, news for instance, I read a book, work on a Sudoku or leave the room during the huckstering. Not a single advertisement penetrated my brain when I read the newspaper this morning.
Online? The popups are blocked and banner ads go undetected by a mind trained by years of disinterest.
And, apparently I am typical. Google Research shows that only one in 1,000 viewers click on an ad, and that those who do spend an average of just nine seconds there. (They are suckers for video ads, however, spending an average of 34.6 seconds watching.)
Given these numbers, what are the chances of success for AdKeeper, which wants to warehouse advertising of your choice so you can check it out later?
In November, Kurnit told USA Today that although research showed that 56% of Internet users want to save ads, he wasn't sure they actually would. "That's the $64 billion question," he said. "If they do, then this is one of the top three or four Internet companies ever."
Well, AdKeeper has been running in beta since February. In that time, Kurnit told investors, 4.5 billion ads enabled with AdKeeper have been distributed on the Internet, raising the click-through rate from one in 1,000 to 34 in 1,000. He says time spent viewing the saved ads is 25 times the Internet average.
Here's how AdKeeper works. You sign up by giving them your email address and establishing a password. After that, if you see an ad you might want to view later, you click on a symbol in the ad -- it looks like a "K" but actually is an exclamation point and a less-than symbol (!<). The ad is stored in "My Keeper" on the site, and is available to you whenever you want.
"I expect our button to be on literally every ad on the Internet a year from now," Kurnit told the Times. "And you can kick my butt a year from now if it isn't."
AdKeeper is free to users, and, for the moment, free to advertisers, which include AT&T, Ford, General Mills and Kraft Foods. Kurnit said these initial advertisers will be given reduced rates when the site begins charging later this year.
I remain skeptical. With ad-hiding services like Adblock Plus, Swidget and Ad Muncher being used by millions, AdKeeper seems to be flailing against a riptide. No one likes popups, and banner ads, while less intrusive, are just more visual noise. Post continues after video.
Brian Morrissey, editor in chief of Digiday, wasn't critical of AdKeeper, but said it might not be enough to overcome the inherent weaknesses of online advertising. He told the Times:
Women rip ads out of women's magazines all the time, but those ads are attractive and truly like content, and Internet ads are kind of ugly and disposable. You can add all of these tools, but maybe you should improve the quality of the advertising and make it memorable in the first place.
Kurnit compares (AdKeeper) to the time-shifting capabilities of TiVo. The difference is that when people are time-shifting television, they're usually looking at programming content they want, and skipping over the ads. For an ad to be saved and savored, it has to be either entertaining or informative, or it has to offer value.
And, in fact, ads that have offers or discounts that could be passed along might be ideal for AdKeeper. But brand-building spots will have to ratchet up their game, in terms of either amusement or information value. That's a tall order for a banner ad.
The biggest stumbling block for AdKeeper may be its presumption that consumers will log on to its site and browse their saved ads. This is a dubious premise, as anyone who has a stack of clipped-and-unread articles waiting for review knows.
Some say it won't work, period. Some say it may work, but only for coupon ads. Few say it's brilliant. Put me in the last camp.
I'm not saying that AdKeeper will be successful. It may still be slightly ahead of its time. But what AdKeeper is acknowledging, and, in turn, making us all acknowledge, is that it's the intrusiveness of advertising that is the problem. Not the advertising itself.
The key difference for AdKeeper is that it makes advertising invitational rather than intrusive. It puts the user in control rather than the advertiser.
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