INTERACTIVE: THE INTERACTIVE QUESTIONNAIRE IN ASSOCIATION WITH ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH - Pay Internet users to view your ads, right? Wrong. At least that’s what the panel says. Edited by Mairi Clark

Is it a good idea to pay consumers to view your Internet ads?

Is it a good idea to pay consumers to view your Internet ads?

ute in theory. Unworkable in practice. It could result in the dumbing

down of the media and creative aspects of online advertising. First off,

the audiences would be self-selecting and skewed with high frequency of

those sad obsessives who have the time and inclination to participate,

but there would be poor coverage of others in the target market.

Second, there is no assurance that people who click through from a

banner to a site or microsite are interested in the brand proposition,

let alone potential customers. Third, it could undermine best creative

practice since there would be little requirement for banners to be

imaginative or attractive given the tame audience. The resulting low

conversion rates will directly hurt the medium’s attractiveness.

Paul Simon

managing director


The idea is at odds with what Web marketers have always claimed to be

the key benefit of the medium: the fact that it is self-targeting. Until

now, you could be pretty certain that if someone clicked through to your

material online, they were interested in you or your products. In

attempting to buy the attention of consumers like a commodity, you are

effacing that certainty: they may be looking at your ads - and even

processing the information at some low level - but what they will be

attending to, and be interested in, will be their digital wad.

Nigel Shardlow

New-media manager, Orange

Paying an audience to view your site is naive in the extreme, you

attract a wholly inappropriate audience. But I can see how it might

succeed. The companies offering advertisers this service are merely

reflecting the worst attitudes of advertisers themselves: that the

success of a Website is measured by the number of visitors, rather than

by what visitors do when they get there. We must remember that

click-throughs have no intrinsic value of their own: it’s more

meaningful to draw and track a small, tightly targeted audience, than

blur research results with falsely inflated numbers.

Vincent Jeanniard

New-media manager


In its most basic form, paying someone to look at an ad is not a good

idea. The two elements that are missing are targeting and a proactive

approach method. The HTMail system of paying consumers to receive and

read e-mails, and visit the Website promoted, relies on the fact that

those consumers provide fairly detailed (but voluntary) information

about themselves when they become members of HTMail. A criticism of ’pay

to view advertising’ is that the consumer will only view the ad for the

money. However, even the most mercenary consumer is only human. If they

see something they like, then they will buy. Targeted e-mail, to a

voluntary, paid audience, overcomes the difficulty of obstrusive

e-mails, and allows advertisers to use their direct mail expertise on

the Net.

A willing mailing list ensures that the advertiser generates no negative

effect from their mailing. The question should be: ’Do consumers want to

be paid to view Internet advertising?’ From the rate of growth of

HTMail’s membership list, and the comments of the members, the answer is


David Broadway

Director of HT Mail

If you look at your proposition solely from a business point of view, it

appears sound. After all, it’s only channelling funds to the consumer

that might otherwise have been paid to the media. You could argue that

this is a far more direct and efficient use of a marketing budget.

However,I do have a real concern about the effectiveness of this

approach, because it fundamentally alters the ’emotional contract’ that

consumers can have with strong brands. Brands attract consumers for many

more reasons than their financial value alone. Paying consumers to view

your ads is a blunt approach and, arguably, devalues the product. It

raises the stakes for the advertising as it acknowledges that the

message is an intrusion. The consumer will, therefore, approach the

advertising with a different and negative feeling about it.

Charles Garland

Development director

Bartle Bogle Hegarty


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