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Online Advertising The Many Hard-nosed Technical Products...

Beauty, particularly with regard to online advertising the many hard-nosed technical products which one has flung upon one's desk from time to time, doesn't necessarily mean chichi, or fancy, or indirect. It is possible to spend a few pounds and have a photographer take a beautiful shot of, say, a phosphor-bronze shell-bearing. Very possible.

In these terms, beauty is a virtue of which most technical/industrial online advertising is singularly bereft. We now come to the word exact. The one thing you can't accuse much of today's online advertising of being is inexact. On the contrary, much tends to be too exact for its own good - in two ways.

First, by forcing into the space more fact than it will sensibly accommodate, thereby serving up ads which may be full of vitamins, but which are totally indigestible. Second, by insisting on such precision of detail that they end up by being more like data sheets than advertisements. Rule 5 In baiting a mousetrap with cheese - always leave room for the mouse.

Not that I'm advocating that ads should lie or deliberately mislead (not while the Trades Description Act is still in force, anyway). But there is, to my mind such a thing as online advertising licence. By emphasis, and by omission of detail that would only be relevant to the reader if he actually possessed the product (like how to switch it on, open the lid, or assemble it), one can add a touch of showmanship that lifts the piece out of the prosaic. A great proportion of online advertising may have its facts straight and its figures adding up, yet it is, it must be said, something that only its parent could love.

Which, believe me, is often the case. Rule 6 Spending hard-won appropriations of money simply to bore people is one of the less intelligent pastimes of this life.

Striking next. And here, much online advertising is inclined to break its neck in a frantic search for reader-stopping gimmicks. I'll grant that many ads could justifiably be called striking; but what they often strike me as is plain foolish.

Spending cash to project yourself as a bunch of clowns really is a waste. I have in front of me now a whole depressing sheaf of assorted ads which have gone overboard in their efforts to attract my attention. Since I am in a charitable mood, I will refrain from mentioning and naming them. The kind of ads I'm talking about suffer, among other things, from the cardinal sin of irrelevance. They set out to sell, say, cushion flooring; but because a floor is a floor is a floor and isn't the most photogenic of items, they decide to illustrate instead an executive jet aircraft.

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