Good Lord: Ad Alliance Goes on Offense ... with Cute
By Ken Magill
I wanted to like the Digital Advertising Alliance’s new campaign. I really did.
The coalition of marketing and advertising trade groups is tasked with fighting arguably the biggest threat to online advertising’s existence—the nonsense spread by so-called privacy advocates.
Last week the Ad Alliance unveiled a consumer-education campaign consisting of banners and a website with three videos.
“[T]he ‘Your AdChoices’ campaign builds upon the DAA’s two-and-a-half year effort to develop and implement cross-industry best practices and effective solutions for the collection and use of data through its Advertising Option Icon,” said a press release announcing the campaign.
“With widespread industry adoption of the DAA’s Self-Regulatory Principles, the DAA remains committed to informing consumers about interest-based advertising, online data collection and use, and the simple way they can exercise control over their web viewing data,” said Peter Kosmala, managing director, Digital Advertising Alliance, in the release. “This highly creative public education campaign is an important step in that ongoing process.”
Highly creative is one way to describe it. Embarrassingly self indulgent is another.
The Ad Alliance is battling to save the only portion of the economy that is creating jobs—the Internet economy. I’m on their side.
But I hate the new campaign. Why? In a word: cute.
And I hate the fact that I hate the campaign. It was created pro bono by the Salt Lake City office of MRM, a McCann Worldgroup company.
So I’m being critical of a campaign that was created for free in the name of a good cause.
But I can’t help it. The campaign sucks.
For one thing, only one of the three videos addresses the most important argument behavioral advertisers have on the side, the one that says: “Like all that free Internet stuff? Sure you do. Well, if behaviorally targeted online advertising goes away, so does all your free stuff.”
Moreover, the campaign screams: “See how clever we are?”
For example, the video entitled “Your ad choices and you” conveys the most important information of the campaign but does so in such a manner that the message is lost in the too-clever-by-half voiceover copy and dancing-cartoon graphics.
“Let’s assume you see the ad choices icon,” begins the voiceover. “And you know what interest-based advertising is. Now what?
“To start, let’s be clear about two things. Are you sitting down? Gooooood.
“Here goes. One! Advertising pays for almost everything on the Internet. Your free email box! Thanks, advertising! Your customized news sites! Ditto! Photo-sharing sites! Thanks again!
“Two! And perhaps more shocking … is that interest-based advertising shows you, ads that you might actually want to see. A web banner. With an offer for that thing you want? Good to know ad choices!
“So! If you like the good and free services on the Internet. And ADS that are more relevant to you, then here are some things you can do:
“A! Sit back and get promos and offers that make your life better!
“B! Find an obscure record in the Guinness book to try to topple.
“C! Alphabetize your clothes!
“D! Invent teleportation finally for crying out loud!”
And on it goes, ladling on the cute as it explains that people who want to opt out of behaviorally base ads can do so.
The information is there. But the voiceover’s tone is clownishly exaggerated and cadenced. The attempts at cleverness fail, and the graphics consist of dancing-cartoon words and symbols—all symptoms of a team far too interested in drawing attention to their work at the expense of conveying information.
Maybe the campaign’s aim is to take the fear out of behaviorally based ads by injecting a little humor into the issue.
Trouble is, it’s not funny.