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EditorialsUp Front 01/15

Up Front 01/15

It’s hard to believe that nearly twenty years ago I worked in a small company where we spent many hours raving about how the internet was the future and how it was going to change the world. At the time I had absolutely no idea of how right we were. The internet did indeed change the world, and fortunes were made and lost in the process. In long conversations we debated which companies might be successful and which wouldn’t. As a vehicle for reaching people the internet was going to be mighty and would offer businesses a whole new way of advertising their goods and services. However, according to recent research, it seems that some companies are about to kill the goose that might have laid their golden egg. A new study in the Journal of Marketing Research has found that many consumers using the internet have found online ads to be so garish, loud, or aggravating that they have stopped looking at websites that use them. The authors of the research, who were from Microsoft, McAfee and Northeastern University, asked people in a study to perform online tasks, some of which exposed them to web pages with annoying advertisements. An ad’s  ‘annoyingness’ was determined by factors such as whether it had too much animation, was poorly designed, or had been placed by a company having a questionable reputation. The results suggested that this way of forcing customer’s attention may actually be bad for business. Participants were far less willing to remain on a web page if it contained an annoying advertisement. They also did not remember the content very well on pages that contained such ads. The research concluded that any short-term revenue brought in by these advertisements is likely outweighed by the negative long-term effects. However that doesn’t affect one of those companies whose future we debated all those years ago. The one that everyone agreed would fail was a new business that planned to sell books online. It was called Amazon.com. How wrong we were. I think the modern description today might be #verybigcompany.   FB

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