Is Online Advertising Getting Better?

Andrew  |  May 15, 2015

Nobody likes advertising, except when it rises to an art form. (Think budget-busting Super Bowl ads.) And even then, well, one person’s treasure is another’s trash.

In part this is because advertising is either forgettable, as in much of the local print advertising most of us see, or it’s intrusive, like the broadcast TV model.

The web hasn’t been much of an improvement on this, but there is hope. Advertisers are beginning to pay attention to what digital media offers that TV, radio and print do not. Here’s an example.

I opened up the New York Times home page this morning an ad for Apple’s iPad popped up. (Actually, it popped down: it expanded pushing the content below it a bit further down the page. I’m pretty sure it was an IAB Rising Stars Billboard ad unit, for you ad geeks scoring at home.)

The ad was “Redecorating with the iPad” and it showed a disembodied hand holding an iPad in the foreground, scrolling through paint samples in an app and applying them to the picture of the living room shown in the app.

As the user tried different paint samples, the colors showed up not only on the virtual living room, but also as the background color to the Times’ website in my browser window.

Silly? Maybe. But it got my attention, felt interactive in a way that broadcast media never does, and though still a horrible, intrusive example of advertising, it was at least a more-interesting-than usual interruption.