The oddities of internet advertising
In the course of browsing the internet, I find all sorts of advertising. This is nothing new; even I’m trying to get word out on things like this blog and First Contact Is Bad For You. To this end, I’ve been doing a lot of graphical design work in GIMP, and I’ve been learning a LOT about the field from it – take for instance this banner ad I designed.
I consider myself an amateur at this, but I think it fits the main criterions of an advertisement – eye-catching, informative, not annoying or gimmicky, etc. Hopefully, not the sort of thing that someone would download AdBlocker for.
On the other hand, someone’s decided that, in fact, they don’t have to be informative. They clearly think there’s no need to even tell potential audiences the NAME of your product, otherwise they wouldn’t have approved and uploaded an advertisement like this:
Technically, it’s far from the worst possible example. Whoever made it had the decency to put SOME visual cues into the thing, so that anyone who decides to click it has some idea of what to expect, what with the police car and the low polygon count. I did some basic research, and this lead to a website called “TimeWasterz”, which, as you would expect, specializes in online video games. You won’t find anything particularly interesting there, but they do have such favorites as “Counter Kill”, “Park Your Ride”, “Mafia Driver 3″… what do you mean you’ve never heard of such things? Oh right, you can’t be expected to play all the latest shovelware. So it was basically one of a million generic web gaming sites, probably designed to entice prepubescent boys in search of freebies, like OneMoreLevel.com. I also found a variety of shoddy advertisements on the site; some were of the anti-informative “Play” variety, others ripped off well known licenses, like Mario, and so forth.
I didn’t stop there, of course. First, I went to Quantcast and looked the site up – their traffic varies significantly, but for most of the months mentioned, over 50,000 (possibly unique? I don’t know) people visited the site each month. That’s an awful lot for one of these fly-by-night ‘arcades’, but most of them fell into the under-18, low-income part of the population, which was to be expected. Then, I found that the company directly responsible for the advertising services was called “Ideal Internet”. They supposedly manage web traffic for a bunch of these sites – besides the aforementioned TimeWasterz, there were a bunch of other crappy online ‘arcades’ with very similar page designs. II’s website is full of incoherent corporate babbling – for instance, check out their “About” page. Here’s some samples:
1. Our goal is to direct users to the appropriate website which best fits their interest.
Sounds honorable enough, but as an online gamer, I’d rather go to a GOOD, reputable Flash portal like Kongregate, Newgrounds, or Armor Games. The type of site you serve is the type I’d like to avoid.
2. This website should then be reconfigured in order to accommodate each audience group. Non-valuable traffic should be “equally traded” to another related website where it may hold more value.
In other words, they don’t want periphery demographics, and are willing to shunt them all over the place. Also, note how they’re more interested in redesigning websites so that they’re relentlessly targeted towards specific demographics than they are making user-friendly content.
3. This form of advertising is best suited for internet users who have no intention or real purpose online other than to waste time. Arcade websites present a near perfect environment for interactive advertisements and there is an abundance of internet gamers.
So in short, children. Quantcast is backing me up here. They rarely do their research beforehand, and also lack the judgement to avoid these dodgy advertisements/sites.
It’s an amusing combination – they’re working to ensnare an audience that not only isn’t capable of fighting back, but is difficult to profit off due to its lack of funds. That, combined with the fact their products are of inferior quality, is sure to catapult them into the public name overnight. The sad thing is that this sort of thing probably actually works – IdealInternet has been around since 2009 or so (according to a WhoIs lookup), and most people wouldn’t spend 3 years on the internet doing something completely ineffective.