Product placement problems

This is an interesting study. This may be new media, but anyone from old media knows placing an ad higher up on a page doesn’t necessary equate to better readership. If anything it’s obtrusive.

Humans are geared to scan print – paper and screen – in a certain way. In the newspaper business we studied such things as eye movement, starting with where an eye landed on a page and then how it moved. We also studied optimum and minimum line lengths for copy. And we designed our pages according to reader comfort.

In print, pages are designed in an inverted pyramid for a reason. It’s both orderly and easier for the readers to absorb the information. On-line desperate advertisers throw things at you. It creates a type of visual noise bordering on the chaotic. This study suggests that the traditional ways still pay off with new media and new technology.

On-line advertisers are sold all kinds of packages and ideas on how to draw visitors to their website, business page, product or service. What this study is starting to show is the smoke and mirrors-ness of it. Much of it is bogus ‘clickbait’. Another recent article said sellers were telling advertisers if an ad stayed on screen for ten seconds it was considered read. But is it read or does it take that long for many people to find the “close” button?

When someone goes to a page on the web they’re there because they are seeking a particular piece of information or entertainment. They didn’t come looking for advertising, no matter how much they may turn out to be interested in the message. So when an ad pops up over what they came to see, what do they do? They either click close on the ad in favour of what they originally came to see or click away to an alternative page. No one is served.

The same goes for those large top-of-page banner ads. The smaller the screen, the quicker people click close to free up screen space. As an Apple user I find it interesting that Apple banner ads don’t have a close function. Click on an Apple ad in an attempt to close it and you’re taken to their product site.

As this study shows, aggressive ad placement doesn’t translate into a higher motivation by consumers to act. This is why advertisers still pay a 10-times premium for their legacy media campaigns vs on-line. I’m not anti-web, I just think there is a better way for many business and destinations to behave and present themselves to all demographics in all media. To discuss opportunities, contact me at



By allanlynch

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