Ambush Ads in Your Online Media Mix


By:  Paul Gibler

Is your company considering a more aggressive online marketing strategy?

 If so, consider what Paul Gibler (the Web Chef) says.  In Paul's e-Marketing training sessions, he suggests you should be very careful before choosing highly intrusive formats in your media mix. Intrusive ad formats like pop-ups, pop unders, interstitials, and spawning ads have become fairly common marketing techniques to grab consumers' attention. Consumers rate these formats with varying degrees of acceptability based on their degree of intrusiveness according to research conducted by DynamicLogic. As expected, the more intrusive the ad, the less favorable the rating.

Recently, aggressive marketers have gone beyond the existing ad formats to experiment with what are commonly being called “ambush ads” by consumer groups. These ads work under various guises to replace site ads and content with alternative advertising. These ads are delivered through plug-in software that tracks your behavior or the content you are viewing and, based on that information, delivers preemptive pop-up ads, content or links. These aggressively served and targeted ads can block out the official paid ads, content or links on the site you are visiting; thus stealing the publisher’s real estate, both content and advertising.

The technology that delivers these ambush or invasive ads has been called various names including “spyware,” “leechware,” “thiefware,” “foistware,” “badware” and “scumware”. The providers of these technology solutions have likewise earned names like “eyeball bandits” or “eyeball thieves.” These pejorative terms reflect the anger that computer geeks, consumers, publishers, and some advertisers are feeling toward these new online advertising technologies.

Claria (formerly Gator) is one of the providers of these advertising technologies. Claria ads can “ambush” a consumer when they are viewing content of rival advertisers. For example, a site visitor to could suddenly see a pop-up advertisement for Office Depot - offering a similar product. A group of major publishers sued Claria to stop what they call this “parasitic behavior.”  Among the name brand advertisers that have allegedly used Claria are Orbitz, Cendant and FTD.

In addition to the annoyance factor created by these ads, Microsoft reports that “spyware” can lead to system instability and crashes due to the drivers within these programs.

The growth in invasive and ambush advertising is leading to the development of countermeasures to eliminate all online advertising like those in the infancy of deployment - AdKiller, AdSubtract, Guidescope, Internet Junkbuster, Panicware, Pop-up Eliminator, Webwasher and Webwiper. These solutions, as pointed out in Shake and Bake Marketing training, are gaining greater acceptance as consumers and corporate users become inundated with intrusive ads and seek to shift the balance toward greater control. In addition, as advertising complexity has increased, the amount of bandwidth consumed in delivering these ads has led to a consumer desire to recapture speed through the elimination of extraneous advertising.

As advertisers and marketers, how far should we go in using these technologies in our strategies? My recommendation is to monitor how they are faring in the marketplace, but not to jump on the bandwagon of using them in your online advertising mix. The extremely negative response that these invasive behavior-based advertising delivery schemes are receiving is such that you will only lose favor and diminish your brand’s luster if you join the purveyors of ambush ads.

For publishers, it is critical to stay on top of ambush and ad blocking technologies, as both diminish the value of your advertising inventory and potentially infringe on your copyrights.

Stay tuned to see who is left standing after these advertising ambushes run their course.

By:  Paul Gibler

© 2015 Alliance Training and Consulting, Inc.



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