The Annoying Banner Ad was Initially Created to Help People

Banner Ads have long been a nuisance for people on the web; Banner Ads at large have become synonymous with spam. People trying to pitch you something you don’t want to buy or those damn “contests” that used to pop-up claiming you have been part of 5 selected people from 10,000 to receive a new laptop, my mom still falls for these occasionally. Unfortunately Banner Ads have deviated from their original purpose 20yrs ago, because believe it or not they were actually first created to add value to customers.

Wired Magazine one of the Internet Pioneers

hotwired-trailblazing

The year was 1994 and the Internet was a wild and exciting jungle. Users entering this mystical forest felt like Daniel Boone blazing the Wilderness Trail. Indeed they were with companies such as Netscape, appropriately named, seeking to help users excavate and trial the Internet’s information. Some of the top sites to were news companies that had a loyal following such as Wired Magazine.

Wired and the Internet seemed like a match made in heaven. Internet users wanted to find new content and trusted publishers wanted to start using this emerging technology. Although it made perfect sense for Wired to invest money to become an Internet leader, the company was not in a financial position to be able to take any risks.

The problem that emerged was how do they provide this revolutionary new service on the Internet while not taking such a financial risk.

Obviously they could not expect their existing paperback subscribers to pay for a service they might not even use, so they brought in Andrew Anker. Anker was a former Silicon Valley investor who would later become CTO and eventually CEO of Wired Ventures.

Andrew came in and realized the only sensible solution for Wired was Ads, borrowing the idea from the print industry. So Wired pushed it’s website HotWired.com and started letting companies buy ad space.

HotWired.com’s ad space was kind of a Big Deal

On the other side of the nation, buzz was starting to circulate that Wired would be trying this new ads supported site and all the big players wanted to hop onboard. At the time MCI and AT&T were in an arms race to become the communications leader and when both got word of this opportunity they sprung into action.

AT&T was using a media agency named Modem Media lead by Joe McCambley and as soon as he got word of the opportunity they recruited a diverse team to beat out MCI. Collectively they wanted to come up with a way to most effectively promote AT&T however a big obstacle presented itself. AT&T did not want to put their name on the Banner Ad as it was such a new and bleeding edge technology; so the team got creative.

“You Will”

They decided to play off the current campaign AT&T was running, “You Will”. The campaign made bold technological predictions for the future, most which are spot on, claiming consumers might not believe the predictions now, but “You Will”.

The team realized that the campaign was synergistic to what the Banner Ad could help early Internet adopters do, Discover. They decided to help users discover new and exciting content by having the Banner Ad funnel to museum and art websites, who were early pioneers of the digital age, such as Lourve, The Andy Warhol Museum and the Library of Congress.

att you will

The strategy was genius as it seamlessly fit into the “You Will” campaign that stated AT&T was striving to be leaders in communication for future technologies; they were not only preaching they would be helping push new technology they were proving it by providing early internet users with value, transporting them to wonderful exhibits of art and culture from the comfort of their living room.

“As you'll see, that first banner had three advantages over modern digital ads: it was part of an integrated marketing campaign; it was a great experience (as opposed to being a mere message); and it was created with only good intentions toward consumers.” Joe McCambley

Yet Banner ads are still thriving to this day

Display related advertising is still booming today and is a 3.7 billion dollar industry, with Banner Ads comprising 2.3 billion of the market-share according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (ABI) for Q4 of 2013.

Unfortunately the state of Banner Ads has been adulterated by copious unscrupulous individuals and has strayed from its original roots of providing Value to the customers.

“The first lesson we learn in marketing 101 is to put the customer first. I know I speak for hundreds of people when I say that many of those first banners were created with the best of intentions toward consumers. Sadly, that is no longer the case.” Joe McCambley

Looking toward a better advertising solution

At Link Plug, we care about the consumer. Our technology provides value on social media to both the person sharing and the person reading.

Link Plug allows you to make sure any potential, new or existing followers can see and revisit any awesome interviews, videos, workshops, new blog posts, product updates, deals/promotions, events or even sign up for your newsletter.

Link Plug is a better way to share content on social media. If you don’t believe us, “You Will!”

Written by: Edwin
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