the most annoying banner ad of all time

Here’s one of my online marketing rules. Audio that auto-plays on a website is bad. The main reason is simple. Studies show that the majority of web browsing is done at the workplace. Auto-play audio alerts fellow cube dwellers or the Bobs that they’re slacking. They surf off the site when you disturb the peace.

Personally, I just like my web silent. If I want to hear something, I’ll unmute my speakers and hit play. Thanks.

The most annoying of these auto-play audio ads are when a “person” tries to talk to me in an one-to-one manner.

Alltel is currently running a skyscraper with their publicly-hated spokesdude, Chad. Instead of clicking, the ad’s audio goes live when you mouse over.

So I’m on a website and I accidentally mouse over the Alltel ad and Chad starts talking. I see there’s a volume control on the ad and I click it. It mutes Chad. Chad stops talking and looks up at the volume control and looks back at me with a hurt look on his face. Then he starts talking again (muted) and keeps looking between me and the volume control shrugging his shoulders and looking hurt and confused. This goes on the entire time I’m on the page reading the material I came for.

And the whole hurt act annoyed me even more than the sound being on. So much so that I grabbed the attached screenshot to use in this post.

No Chad, I don’t want to hear your pitch. The whole ad represents the main problem that ALL marketers have trying to reach an audience. Not everyone wants to hear your company’s marketing spiel. No one really cares about your marketing except you and your agency (maybe).

I’m sure the Alltel ad wizards thought it would be a cute way to work the creative with a target who wants to disengage. But at what cost? Seems the public hates Chad. Why give them even more reasons to hate him?

Don’t look hurt, Chad. Just don’t place an annoying audio banner ad in front of me. And let’s keep it down in here.

BTW: If you google the phrase i hate alltel, you’ll find that this post that I wrote back in 2005 is the top result. In fact, that post is also consistently one of the most trafficked posts on the entire blog. When I look at my stats, I try to ignore its effects on keyword searches and overall traffic. So I’m interested in how this post will affect all that.

5 thoughts on “the most annoying banner ad of all time

  1. Jetpacks

    Chris:Regarding your rule about working surfers leaving auto-audio, while I agree that that practice is extremely annoying, don’t most of us use earbuds or headphones?

  2. Chris Houchens

    @jetpacks — aren’t the earbuds/headphones a tip off? ;-0 Also how will you hear when someone sneaks up behind you to see what’s on the screen?

  3. eamon

    It’s as if people think: ‘right we have this technology, let’s just use it,’ – forgetting that we are humans not robots. Yes, to technology, but technology has to fit into the habits of humans not the other way around – especially with advertising where you are trying to build connections with people ..

  4. Alan

    Reminds me of the 3D salespersons that “walk” onto the screen and start yakking. I hope this is just a phase.

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