Customer-centric guru Gerry McGovern wrote last week:
“Traditional marketing is about getting attention. Web marketing is about paying attention.”
I really like the distinction he has made, although I think the lines are blurring.
A former colleague of mine and I used to argue over the effectiveness and wisdom of pop-up banner ads. I argued that a vast majority of users hate them and the increased revenue you may see is offset by an annoyance factor. His response was that a vast majority of magazine readers are annoyed by blow-in subscription cards too (they ones that fall out when you flip through the magazine), but they work. So do annoying telemarketers and infomercials.
But the web is a new kind of place. A medium unlike any before it where the customer has more choice and more control. Applying old school marketing techniques to the web is the equivalent to building a brochureware website.
I believe a good user experience is a combination of “findability” and “discoverability.” You want to make it easy for the user to accomplish their tasks while also exposing them to additional things that may be of interest. The question is when does this “exposing” cross the Annoyance Parallel? It’s certainly not an exact science and the boundaries are constantly shifting. Many websites are experimenting now with innovative social media marketing, interstitial and inline advertising, and other forms on online marketing in the endless pursuit of walking the line between effective promotion and detrimental annoyance.
As the convergence of the television, the phone and the computer continues to blur the technological boundaries, the distinct differences between “traditional marketing” and “web marketing” will continue erode. The challenge for marketing today is how to apply the lessons of the offline world in ways that don’t annoy but in fact enhance the user experience.