Friday, December 21, 2012

How not to do digital advertising


Digital advertising mainly comes in three flavours:
  • Ad banners - used in web pages or in apps.
  • Digital audio sandwiched between real content.
  • Digital video, usually boxed into the corner of a screen, surrounded by other visual content.

Today, I'll touch on the last one of these.  Digital video advertising is supposed to have two major goals:
  1. It gets eyeballs to see the adverts.
  2. It does this in a cost effective way that at least breaks even, and hopefully makes a profit for the advertising network that owns the screens.

Every morning on my commute, I go through an underground concourse owned by Brookfield (http://www.brookfieldofficeproperties.com/content/toronto/hudsons_bay_centre-5731.html) where I'm quickly subjected to a number of digital screens.  

Being a technology savvy person and having worked in digital advertising in the past, I tend to have a bit of a critical eye for digital screens, and these screens that I see everyday normally make me think of this:  http://www.despair.com/mistakes.html

Running these screens through my mental checklist, traditionally, it went like this:
  • Are the screens in a prominent spot?  Check.
  • Are the screens unaffected by glare? Fail. 
  • Are the screens in landscape mode?  Fail.
  • If in portrait mode, have they been polarized properly? Fail.
  • Do they look "modern" and eye catching? Fail.
  • Is there good use of the screen real-estate? Check.

As you can see, there's more failures than good marks.  Let me explain.

Digital screens are polarised in one direction.  You often notice that when using a laptop, you get better colours by adjusted the angle of the screen on the vertical axis.  When you rotate the screen, you now have vertical polarisation - this is now the same polarisation as glare coming off a body of water.  People who wear sunglasses often have them polarised in the same fashion, to stop glare from water and other horizontal from reaching their eyes.  The net result of this is during the summer months, your digital advertising has just been blocked - unless you used an appropriately polarised screen.

Modern look and feel is rather subjective.  I think we can all agree though that having screens still mocked up to look like iPhone 3GS's when the iPhone 5 is out is a little dated.  The point of digital advertising it should be very easy to update the interface.

Glare can be fixed in two ways:  First is positioning, or failing that, getting anti-glare technology (filters, matte screens, etc).  This will ensure that the viewer can actually see the advert.

And so it was when I noticed this morning that the screens had been updated.  No longer was I greeted by a flanking of iPhone 3GS looking screens. Instead I was greeted with this:

Now, they've gone and replaced a large portion of the screen with dead real-estate, and not only that, they're now showing landscape adverts in a portrait screen, leaving 2/3 of the rest of the screen blank. (The rest of what you see is not content, but glare)

I can only conclude that whoever is the decision maker of these screens doesn't know what they're doing.  This only serves to reinforce my original opinion, seen here: http://www.despair.com/mistakes.html