Dancing Baby Fails and Other Digital Distractions

Why, in the seemingly sophisticated world of digital marketing, are there so many advertising disasters? Who told the marketing director that the first step in digital marketing was to shout and wave your arms to ensure no one misses your message? Or to be vague/coy to drive inquisitive millions to click, just to learn more?

If you own a product or service, how much marketing value is there in having a person stand on a street corner twirling a directional sign trying to point passing motorists towards your company? I suppose if you own a restaurant and are offering a lunch bargain, and it’s between 11:30 and 2 p.m., it might get some attention and customers.

In my book, that marketer gets an A+ for clarity of message (Lunch Special RIGHT HERE!) and the ROI is probably pretty clear too. Give a guy $8 an hour to twirl a $200 sign, and you only need 20 customers to break even.

So why, in the seemingly sophisticated world of digital marketing, are there so many advertising disasters? Who told the marketing director that the first step in digital marketing was to shout and wave your arms to ensure no one misses your message? Or to be vague/coy to drive inquisitive millions to click, just to learn more?

I’m not just talking about that stupid dancing baby—which, by the way, has become so distracting I’ve been forced to place my hand on my monitor to cover it up while I try to read content on a page—or the creepy picture of the woman who ages 50 years in the span of 2 seconds, or the gal who seems to grow and shrink her belly fat instantly. They’re all the equivalent of the guy on the street corner, twirling his sign, but it’s not lunch time and I’m not hungry. And I don’t have the benefit of turning my head away to ignore the distraction, as I’m on a page with content I want.

The worst offenders are those that craft unclear messages that simply leave me saying “Wha–??”

Take the most recent ad presented on my Yahoo! home page: Reliant is not a brand I know, but apparently it’s an NRG Company. (Sorry, still nothing.)

The picture is of a stack of $20 bills and the headline is, “Secure your low price and get $300.” The button says “Switch Today.”

Call me dumb, but I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. I’ve never heard of the brand, or the parent company, so I do what I do with most dumb marketing messages: I ignore it. (Well, that’s only partially true; under normal circumstances I would have ignored it, but I wanted to know who Reliant was—or, at a minimum, what NRG meant for this blob—so I clicked the “Switch Today” button.)

After lots of spinning, I got an error message. Hmmm … I tried to Google the company and then click through to their web site. A lot more spinning. Another error message. I start to panic. Did I just download a virus that’s now wreaking havoc on my desktop?

After switching browsers, I finally got to the Reliant website. It turns out they’re an energy company—but none of their links work. So I don’t even know if they service my area. Dumb and dumber.

Digital marketing isn’t brain surgery, but only a few have figured it out. Take ING Direct, for example. In the same pixel space as Reliant, the ING headline reads, “Turn on the Power of Checking and get a $50 bonus” with 3 bulleted benefits and a big, orange “Learn More” button. Yup. Got it. There’s cash for me for opening an account, no fees, 35K fee-free ATMs and I can make deposits from anywhere, anytime. Count me in!

Next time you’re crafting a digital ad, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. You don’t need gimmicks to get attention. You need a benefit-laden headline. You need a visual that supports your message. You need to make sure your link works. And K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple Stupid.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

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