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Please Repeat After Me:
"The Net Is Not TV"
16 August 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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When it comes to the Internet, the normally ultra-creative advertising industry seems to have a bad case of the "no brains here" syndrome -- and we all suffer as a result of it.

It took them years to work out that banners were an incredibly ineffective and unimaginative way of using the Net to promote a product or service -- however, even though this reality has finally dawned on them, they seem lost for sensible ideas.

Their first response to the failing banner was an incredibly primitive one: just make the ads bigger and they'll work better.

BZZZZT -- wrong answer!

Yes, bigger ads do get more click-throughs -- but just giving a builder a bigger hammer doesn't make him capable of building a superior house.

So then they got all excited about pop-under ads and showed us that this technique could thrust otherwise lacklustre and no-name sites such as a purveyor of tiny CCTV video cameras into the top 10 of most visited sites.

BZZZZT -- wrong answer!

This pissed off so many Net users that the company concerned had to provide an opt-out facility so that their irritating little pop-unders didn't drive websurfers totally insane.

And now it would appear that they're ready to return to that really crazy notion that the Net is just a slow form of television.

Stories running on the wires today indicate that some sites are now sporting full 30-60 second TV advertisements delivered via streaming video.

BZZZZT -- sigh!

Will someone please lend the ad industry a brain -- even a politician's one will do -- it's got to be better than whatever it is they're using at present in an attempt to come up with new ideas.

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Support Is Better On The Net
Have you noticed how many every-day products now include a URL or email address on their packaging?

What's more -- there are actually real people there waiting to receive and respond to your Net-based queries!

I've recently had cause to contact two manufacturers via the Net and here's what I found:

McCashins Brewery
I love ginger beer. When I'm feeling brave I even brew my own (thank goodness for plastic bottles that don't explode like the glass ones used to).

A few weeks ago I bought a four-pack of Mac's Ginger Beer from the local supermarket but found it to be very "soapy" to the taste. I figured that this is not the way Ginger Beer should taste so I went to the company's site and sent them an email relating my experiences.

Wow... these people have an excellent attitude to customer satisfaction and, in just a couple of days, I had a replacement pack for the product I bought sitting on my desk.

Top Marks McCashins and even more marks for being rapidly responsive to customer emails.

My only negative comment to McCashins -- please lose the music on your website -- People don't visit to listen to music, they come for information. If I want music I'll find an MP3 somewhere!

The other health food I buy and consume with great regularity are Toffee Pop biscuits (what do you mean the C in vitamin C doesn't stand for chocolate?).

Unfortunately I think I've been turned off these biscuits for ever due to the fact that I inadvertently selected several packets of the new "dark chocolate" version.

My God they are revolting!

The problem (apart from the taste) is that they're packaged in a wrapper that is very, very similar to the original Toffee Pop biscuits so I didn't even notice that I was buying something different -- is this a marketing tactic I wonder?

So, stuck with three packets (minus one partly eaten biscuit), I went to the Griffins website and advised them that the new product didn't pass the taste-test and that perhaps it might be a good idea for them to make the packaging more distinctive just in case there were other shoppers as inattentive as myself.

Full marks for the speed of Griffins response to my email -- but zero marks for their desire to keep the customer satisfied. No offer of an exchange, refund or replacements.

Griffins have got the hang of responding quickly to emails but they could learn a thing or two from McCashins about winning back customer loyalty.

So now I'm sworn off Toffee Pops and I guess I'll have to look for some other non-Griffins biscuit that is equally as healthy and nutritious.

Bring back Toppers I say -- the best biscuit ever made!

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