(Everybody who comments on this post gets a free pony. Incidentally, did you know that some stores still sell horse meat?)
Let’s get slightly more hypothetical than usual for a second. Imagine for the moment that you have some sort of product on hand that you wish to sell- for example, a brand of alarm clocks that, instead of making sound to wake you up in the morning, simply contact your local law enforcement department and strongly hint that your place of residence has a high output of methamphetamines. And, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that I actually have the requisite funds to purchase one of these devices. And as long as we’re dealing with theoreticals, let’s say that I’m wearing an orange stovepipe hat.
Now, how are you going to ensure that my stovepipe hatted self catches wind of this product? Your main two options here would be witchcraft and advertisement, but seeing how expensive chicken blood has become these days, you’d be better served by just using advertisements. Online banner ads, to be more specific; I don’t see films in theaters, my television is presently abandoned somewhere in a hotel in Finland, and I make a point to avoid looking at highway advertisements, to the extent that motorists are endangered just by being on the road on the same day as me.
So you have a product that I want, I’m fiscally and legally capable of purchasing it, I have an orange hat, and you know what format you want to advertise in. But what exactly should the advertisement consist of? Well, there are three tried and true techniques commonly known among the makers of banner ads:
1. Use rapidly moving graphics, flashing lights, constantly changing colors, or really just about anything to send a clear “screw you” to the epileptic community at large.
2. Make the advertisement “interactive” by making it into a minigame of sorts. What it is doesn’t matter- whack-a-mole, a “throw x at the y” sort of game, squash, whatever you can think of and fit in a two inch screen. All that’s required is that is 1) completely unrelated to what is actually being advertised (I once saw a “shoot the duck” ad for a cancer charity. Go figure.), and 2) able to be beaten by any combination of mouse movements, including repeatedly hitting the desk with your mouse in order to kill an insect.
Note that these three techniques aren’t mutually exclusive. However, I’ve yet to see an ad that combines all three of them. I’d love to see an ad with a minigame where you throw breasts at seizure-inducing squares of light, an ad that I can only assume would be funded by the physical manifestation of human depravity.
The problem is that I’ve stopped really noticing these sorts of ads by this point, and I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone in this respect. Eventually advertisers are going to catch on to that. And when they do, we will bear witness to a new age of obnoxious banner ads.
What exactly will this age consist of? That remains a mystery, although I still bear hope for a glorious future where moving your cursor over the wrong section of the screen causes your computer to transform into a mechanical beast that will pin you against your chair and soliloquize on the glories of the latest season of Dexter for a good half hour before raiding your fridge and stealing your car.