Simon Willison’s Weblog


K5 text ads

28th January 2003

Via Inluminent, a short Q&Awith Rusty of K5 discussing the site’s innovative new text-ads-with-comments format.

"It definitely is better understood by some advertisers than others. The idea behind ad comments is two-fold. First, for the advertiser, the benefit is that potential customers can meet you on "neutral ground," ask questions and get more information in a place they’re already comfortable. It gives advertisers a space they can use to tailor their message to individuals, rather than keeping them at the kind of impersonal distance that a banner ad can create.

"And for the users, the benefit is that they can see what others have said abut the product, whether that’s good or bad, and how the advertiser has dealt with other people. A key feature of this is that ad discussions operate according to K5’s normal discussion rules -- comments can be rated by everyone, and aren’t subject to the desires of the advertiser.

Quite frankly, I think this is a truly inspired twist to internet advertising. A text ad on its own (as seen on Google, for example) is a couple of lines of text trying to convey a whole bunch of information. They are trivial to ignore—in fact I suspect I am already developing a form of “banner blindness” towards them. K5 ads are different—it’s a text add, but what’s this “131 comments” link? Suddenly the tiny advert has become the gateway to an informative two way discussion about the product. Smart companies can get stuck in with potential customers, answering questions and generally demonstrating that they know what they are talking about and are worth doing business with.

It’s probably too radical to take off as a mainstream advertising technique (most companies would run a mile at the idea of unmoderated comments appended to their adverts) but I can see it working really well on many community style sites.

This is K5 text ads by Simon Willison, posted on 28th January 2003.

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