Thoughts on Ajaxian Advertising




When I read Jason Calacanis’ post about Ajax and ad revenues I couldn’t help but think about the flip side of the coin: how can advertisers (and webloggers/content publishers take advantage of Ajax-fu to increase revenues?

Sure, advertisers have been taking advantage of Javascript to serve up popups, pop-unders, hijack your screen holding you hostage, and a myriad of other nasties. That’s not what I’m talking about (although there’s always something new to make me look at crappy ads). I’m thinking more about smart stuff that can be done to increase value for advertisers as well as readers. What the heck am I talking about? Here are some thoughts:

  • Auto-Refreshing Text ads. This would have to be done carefully, as I tend to stay as far away as possible from ads that make my eyes bleed. I really love text ads because (at least with Google) they tend to be right on the money, relate to the rest of the content on the page, and often enough are interesting enough to click on in a short attention span kind of way. You could do all kinds of sexy stuff, like scroll the top ad off and bring one up from the bottom in a skyscraper configuration, or just do a fade swap for a new ad. Because they’re still text ads, and the new ad is probably just as targeted, it just might work. Most text ads are pay per click not pay per view, so costs per ad wouldn’t got up any, you wouldn’t have to pay the content publisher any more unless there’s an actual click involved.
  • Context-Sensitive Ads, Part I: Take the success of text ads one step further. Who’s to say that an Ajaxian click can’t involve another impression? If someone chooses to drill down to more pictures of Lindsay Lohan, why not update that ugly sidebar ad? Or of course you could use the opportunity to scan the new content and update text ads if necessary. That’d be kinda cool.
  • Context-Sensitive Ads, Part II: Hey, take that one step further. How about ads that update themselves onHover(). Again, don’t be stupid. Get too fancy or make my eyes bleed and I’ll probably not come back. But couple this with unobtrusive value-adding textads (Hover over a title containing the word “giraffe” and you get some text ads involving giraffes). This may not work quite as well as an ajaxian fold/expand call (a click would make the user more likely to expect an “event” to happen). It’s also mighty tempting to flog something like this to death.
  • Interactivity in a meaningful way: No, I don’t want to punch the monkey. But how can Ajax help me interact with an ad in a way that I might find useful? What about an ad that provides me with some information (or something else) that I’m looking for. For example, if I were hawking Wikipedia, I might infer something based on the content from the page and serve up an excerpt from a related article. If I didn’t get it right the first time maybe I’d offer some other suggestions. A click on that suggestion might provide another excerpt rather than just send me on over to the page. Something like this might have the same effect as the Google multi-click banner ads that Jason describes here.
  • Something completely different: This whole Ajax thing is still a baby. There’s a lot that hasn’t been done with Ajax yet, and even more stuff that hasn’t been thought up yet. There’s a ton of potential here and I expect a lot of smart people to push the envelope. Who knows, some of them might even apply it to online ads.