Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Flash banners: online Badvertising

Banner blindness, intrusiveness, non-existent click thru rates, impression-based pricing if online display (banner) advertising didn't have enough going against it, now comes...hacking!

The nerds at /. carry news of an apparent use of booby-trapped Flash-based banner ads to gain control of the systems of the unsuspecting who click. Thank goodness hardly anyone clicks on banners. As this story gets round the bout, I suspect click thru rates will dive into negative numbers ;-)

It does point out an obvious issue: in an imperfect world, all communication vehicles have pros and cons. But when the balance of pros and cons--to the end user--grows sufficiently lopsided to the con, then the vehicle that suffers such indignity will find itself circumvented. TiVO and popup blockers being but two examples of ad-circumvention tools.

If online display advertising--using the ubiquitous Flash format--is now to carry with it the stigma of being a doorway for malevolance, and not merely something to ignore, I suspect ad blocking technology will become less about annoyance and more an issue of security.

When that happens, falling banner ad CPM rates can continue to zero and still be priced too high.

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