Thursday, March 06, 2008

Good and Evil in the Webworld

The clearest exposition of banner blindness is at Jakob Nielsen's site. The simple truth is that most users do not even look at on-line advertisements, let alone click through them. The few people that do are not likely to be your targets anyway, as I discussed earlier.

It is not easy to develop engaging online advertising that is attractive without being intrusive. But it is easy to get loads of cheap hits. You just need to cheat or overwhelm the user. Spam.

However you would imagine that reputable corporations would resist the temptation to have pop-ups obscuring the content that you want to read. You would imagine that they would resist the temptation to deliberately mislead the user with false headlines and false promises.

There is a lot of diversity in today's interconnected world. But as Microsoft did with the home PC market, there is always the danger/opportunity that only one will gain critical mass.

And on the day that Mark Zuckerberg has been announced as the world's youngest billionaire, Virtual Economics reminds us where Facebook stands on this issue. According to Techcrunch today, Facebook believes the best ads are the ones users don’t know are ads. Look at what Mark said in his own words, quoted here:

"There is no opting out of advertising," Zuckerberg said. If it is any consolation, he added: "The ads are going to feel like content to a lot of people."

Is that a good thing? Is it evil?

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