Onions to dine out on

Here’s an Orchid for Nando’s lapel, but tear-filled eyes to you, San­ral

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

ANDO’S wouldn’t be Nando’s if they didn’t jump in with a cheeky, news-re­lated ad­vert. This week was no dif­fer­ent as they tack­led ev­ery­one’s favourite enemy, San­ral, when e-tolls went live in Gaut­eng.

The ad sug­gested San­ral could have taken us out to din­ner, wined and dined us be­fore do­ing the ob­vi­ous. Slighly crude, yes, but when has Nando’s ever been prim and proper?

It does make the point, and it taps into the anger peo­ple are feel­ing. But it be­comes – and this is some­thing few brands man­age to do – the voice of protest for us. Thanks to Nando’s we can have a laugh about the sit­u­a­tion. So another Orchid to Nando’s – another in a long line…

Fol­low­ing on from last week, when I noted that com­pa­nies openly sid­ing with the e-toll do so at their own peril, as they risk a con­sumer back­lash, I was in­ter­ested to see Werks­mans At­tor­neys adopt a seem­ingly un­lawyerly at­ti­tude in speak­ing on be­half of its client, San­ral, to the Jus­tice Project of South Africa.

JPSA had asked le­git­i­mate ques­tions about the sys­tem of en­force­ment pro­posed for non e-tag users – some­thing which is not at all clear, ei­ther from San­ral’s own web­site or from gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments.

In re­sponse, Werks­mans adopted the sar­cas­tic, evasive and threat­en­ing man­ner which has charac-

Nterised San­ral’s in­ter­ac­tion with any­one who ques­tions it.

There was no need to frame the re­sponse so rudely. It smacked of the high-handed “to hell with you” at­ti­tude gov­ern­ment and paras­tatal bod­ies have adopted of late. In in­sult­ing JPSA, Werks­mans, you also in­sulted or­di­nary South Africans, some of whom might be po­ten­tial clients and who might be tempted to vote with their wal­lets. Not good mar­ket­ing, so you get an Onion for fail­ing to look at the big­ger pic­ture of your own brand rep­u­ta­tion.

One of the big­gest cons (af­ter hy­brid ve­hi­cles) in the world of mar­ket­ing is in­ter­net ad­ver­tis­ing. And be­cause those us­ing it are ei­ther ig­no­rant or scared, no one ques­tions the bar­rels of snake oil which are pro­duced daily. I’m not deny­ing that in­ter­net ad­ver­tis­ing is ef­fec­tive – if it is tar­geted and you use things like Google’s var­i­ous schemes for in­sert­ing your ads into searches – but ban­ners and other ads on places like news sites are hugely in­ef­fec­tive.

Take this ex­am­ple. A few months ago, on SAfm, Daily Mav­er­ick cofounder Styli Char­alam­bous ad­mit­ted that the CTR (Click Through Rates) on ads on the site was just 1 per­cent. Even though this is dou­ble the world av­er­age and Daily Mav­er­ick is do­ing in­ter­est­ing things with the pre­sen­ta­tion of its ads, only one in ev­ery 100 peo­ple who visit the site reads the ads.

That is true of most con­tent sites: peo­ple are used to get­ting con­tent for free and ig­nore the ads. To counter this, many sites have come up with an­noy­ing “pop- up” ads, which ei­ther close af­ter a time or can be closed with a mouse click.

All th­ese do is falsely present a pic­ture of user en­gage­ment. If you wait for the ad to close, you are help­ing in­crease the time spent on the page (whether you en­gage with the ad or not). And, if you close the ad, it is recorded as a click, as if some­one was read­ing the ad. Both th­ese met­rics are crit­i­cal for web­site own­ers want­ing to con­vince peo­ple that their visi­tors ac­tu­ally see the ads. This means they can charge more.

I am not en­am­oured by the counter-ar­gu­ment that peo­ple us­ing such sites shouldn’t do so for free – that there should be some “cost of en­trance”, even if this means de­lay and ir­ri­ta­tion for users. If you want to make money, peo­ple, put up a pay wall. Users do not equate to money.

But it is all slightly dis­hon­est. Why would you have to carry out such ma­noeu­vres if the medium was a good place to run ad­ver­tis­ing?

The lat­est site to do this is News 24, which in­cludes pop-up ads on its most pop­u­lar news sto­ries. Th­ese ei­ther close af­ter a cer­tain num­ber of sec­onds or can be clicked closed.

You are not fool­ing me. On the con­trary, you’re ir­ri­tat­ing me, so you get an Onion.

Bri­tish Air­ways says it has achieved a world-first with its new in­ter­ac­tive, real-time bill­boards, in­stalled at two lo­ca­tions in Lon­don. The bill­boards fea­ture a small child walk­ing across the frame, look­ing up at the sky – at ex­actly the same time a flight goes over. The dig­i­tal soft­ware links with BA sys­tems which track planes leav­ing Heathrow Air­port (the bill­boards are on one of its flight paths) and de­liver the ex­act flight num­ber and desti­na­tion, as the child looks up. The sys­tem ap­par­ently also recog­nises when cloud cover will pre­vent the plane from be­ing seen.

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