EVentures, porn sites got there first

A precursor of the jump-through ad or N-ad idea appeared on eVentures' site for much of the heyday of that now moribund e-commerce investment company - even if it was a self-promotion.

A precursor of the jump-through ad or N-ad idea appeared on eVentures’ site for much of the heyday of that now moribund e-commerce investment company – even if it was a self-promotion.

Wellington-based news and press release agency site Scoop.co.nz recently began using “jump through” ads called N-Ads (see Ads jump into NZ). However, eVentures was first on the scene with such advertising, using an abbreviated version of the company’s television advertisement - it was the first thing a user saw on visiting the site. A long arc grew gradually across the browser window and eVentures’ lower-case "e" logo rose above it like the sun over the earth – or maybe it was the earth over the moon, as in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, a Space Odyssey.

As with the N-ads, there was no "skip" button; you had to sit through the presentation before being allowed near any substantive content.

To some people who saw it, it seemed, at least, to go on for too long -- at least five seconds. But users never commented negatively to the company “as far as I can remember”, says assistant to eVentures chairman Craig Heatley, Sharon Evans.

Gillian Vosper, interactive head at Oktobor, the agency that devised the ad technique, says she makes no claims that it is completely original. “Maybe someone has used it before, but when we investigated we didn’t find anything like it.”

Oktobor had a lot of clients giving negative feedback to techniques like pop-ups. “They said customers were ignoring them, and ignoring their banner advertisements, and they were looking for something else.”

The distinguishing feature of the N-ad is that it appears within the same browser window. The user responds to that differently from the response to a popup, Vosper says, and perhaps more positively, because it does not have to be closed down; “it just plays through and goes away”.

Anything longer than five seconds will probably bring about a negative reaction, “and I don’t think that’s a good idea. If it’s going to go on for that long, there should be a skip button.”

Vosper agrees that the basic idea of putting advertising for another service in front of the user before presenting any content from the home site is a technique extensively used by pornographic sites. “In fact it was suggested to us that we market N-ads to that kind of site, but we wouldn’t want to be associated with that market.”

N-ads are best when germane to the content of the site being visited, or the site the user has just left, she says. The TAB trial used a rugby Super 12 promotion.

The sudden ad creates interest, she suggests. “People think ‘hey, what was that?’ and almost as soon as they’re aware of it, it’s gone.” Users have even surfed round trying deliberately to trigger the ad again.

“It’s early days; if [N-ads] generate a lot of negative reaction in the longer term, then obviously they’re not going to work and we’ll stop using them,” Vosper says.

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