Is it just me or is most dotcom advertising utter drivel? Dotcom
marketers will tell you how refreshing it is to work in an environment
where the traditional measures of business are less relevant - you know,
small things such as return on investment, cost-benefit calculations and
making a profit.
Clearly this new, fuzzy logic must also apply to dotcom communications
strategies. Dotcom launch ads have invaded our screens at a
breathtaking, exponential rate. We’ve seen everything from people in
giant fruit and veg suits (organicsdirect.com) to an alien inviting a
geriatric woman to ’make babies’ (msn.co.uk) to a tea party featuring
live guinea pigs (iceland.co.uk).
What so many dotcom companies share is a great idea for a website and
not the first idea how to communicate it. Enter stage right the
advertising agency suits who have the benefit of received wisdom - all
the way from the USA.
In America, where they know all about the internet, everybody knows the
only way to launch a website is to produce something whacky. That way it
has some chance of standing out among the 8 billion channels.
UK advertising agencies, not normally known for listening to anyone’s
bright ideas other than their own, have on this occasion largely done
the lemming thing - hence all the man-sized carrots and procreating
aliens on our screens. I assume all this has happened because received
wisdom says: ’We’ve got to make a big impact at launch, our funds are
limited, we really need to stand out and so we must make a visually
arresting and slightly or very daft ad.’
The offending dotcom companies that have let themselves be seduced by
agencies have obviously not heard of Moran’s ’opportunity to see’ law,
which goes along the lines of ’every OTS you buy is precious, therefore
why waste it with something incomprehensible when you could use it to
say something about yourself that is interesting and motivating for the
The internet is not whacky and it’s not especially ’fun’. It’s a new
information medium and consumers needs to know why they should visit a
particular site and what makes it unique. If these sound like
traditional issues for consideration when creating the ingredients of an
effective commercial, that’s because they are.
The most effective dotcom ad should only need one OTS for the
(internet-wired) viewer to see it, understand the site and what it can
do. If you can inject humour, good, but it should not be mandatory.
Some ads that hit the spot in my opinion are ask.co.uk (Jeeves the
butler knows the answers to all your questions), stepstone.co.uk
(building your career online) and BBC online (celebrities tell us what
can be found at the beeb online). All are simple, effective and very
The internet may be a brave new world for dotcom marketers but they
would do well to look to their more experienced forefathers for help
with their communication strategies.