Disruptive Ads Still Effective

New research from Yahoo and MediaVest (see Ad Age) says out-of-context ads work about as well as ads that are relevant to the adjacent content.

Marlboro billboard

I forget the term for it, but there’s an old-fashioned advertising tactic (and lots of research that supports its effectiveness) where ads are designed to break outside the boundaries of the ad space. Like billboards that have objects hanging off them. The thinking is: When you are trying to interrupt people, do it loudly. Jar us into noticing.

To me, though, the question is, what’s the success metric you’re looking to drive? If you want clicks, naked women and blinking offers to win a free motorcycles work great. Interruptive ads also have a long and successful record in the pre-Tivo era. But if you want to spark up a dialog that might lead to a long-term positive customer relationship, you may want to go with polite and relevant.

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