Helping People Remember Online

This week I was doing some research for a client presentation and I kept thinking, “Oh yeah, I remember that display ad, it would be great to find it and to show the client that.” Working in the advertising industry, I have the tools to be able to do exactly that. Then, I thought to myself, what happens for people who don’t have access to those tools?

What happens to the average person who sees a great online display ad, doesn’t want to click on it, but wants to remember it and refer to it later? The person who goes off and does something else / gets distracted and by the time they’ve come back to their computer, has completely forgotten the name of the brand in that cool, whizzy ad they saw earlier? Well, they’ll probably do a few things:

  • Remember the category and do a search on that category
  • Go back to the website they were on and refresh the page a few times, hoping that the ad reappears
  • Do a general search for words that might bring up the ad
  • Get annoyed and do something else

None of these actions will benefit the brand with the cool, whizzy ad, because it’s highly likely that they haven’t created a search adgroup that references any memorable qualities from the online display ads. But when post-impression (when someone sees an ad, doesn’t click, but goes to the brand website at a later date) to post-click (when someone sees an ad, clicks on it and goes to the brand website immediately) conversion ratios average at 95:5, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you give people who want to find you a helping hand?

For everyone’s talk of banner blindness, good creative execution in any format, even the dreaded 468 x 60 banner will make people stop and have a look. Whether or not they click, is a different story. Clickthrough rates have been decreasing, to the point where a CTR of 0.30% is considered ‘good’. Given this, it would be silly to use CTR as a primary metric and it would be an uphill battle to rely solely on post-click conversions to deliver a positive ROI.

Yahoo have put together some very interesting research on ‘digital memories’, which says that 76% of the women and 75% of the men surveyed cannot remember anything relying on memory alone. Both sexes rely hugely on sending information to themselves as a memory aid, with 60% of men and 66% of women sending emails to themselves. Interestingly, there are people who are taking photos of ads (14% of women and 23% of men) in order to remember them.

So what’s the solution?

According to the Yahoo research, “men are different to women with their opinions to ads; improvements to advertising would make them think more highly of internet ads whereas women would feel less frustrated.”

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we gave people the tools to remember online advertising within the ads themselves? Some brands are already doing this, but they seem to be few and far between. Just as media owners are adding sharing tools alongside the ubiquitious ‘send to a friend’ CTA at the bottom of (almost) every piece of audio, video and text content they release, advertisers should be doing the same.

Should we start adding a ‘send this to me later’ or ‘remind me later’ to ads? Should ads be ‘bookmarkable’?

What do you think?

*image courtesy

4 thoughts on “Helping People Remember Online

  1. Interesting thought, and it certainly can’t do any harm.

    It would seem to make sense for ads that promote competitions/coupons/offers – where people would want to share or refer back. But pardon my cynicism but I’d be surprised if many people wanted to refer back to a display ad purely because they enjoyed the creative execution.

    Also, if someone is so time pressed or distracted to click on an ad, are they likely to read and process it?

  2. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. In my experience, I’ve always found it surprising what people will remember and what they’ll click on – what motivates people to do things varies quite a lot.

    The majority of conversions in direct response campaigns come from post-impression activity, which means that there has to be some level of recall. I think if would be nice to give the people that want to remember the ads the option, as I know from personal experience, there have been times where I’ve wanted to remember an ad and go to the site later, but haven’t wanted to click away from the site I was already on or I was in a rush.

    Online display advertising is one of the core revenue drivers for the majority of sites, so anything we as an industry can do to improve this experience for consumers, the better.

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