I regularly check NBC News online while I’m working at the computer. I like to keep up on breaking news. But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been disappointed to see that NBC is now placing a commercial before every video on their site. Previously, you would go right to the story.
I’m not naive and I know that advertisers and broadcasters are in business to make a profit. But are they harming their relationships with their customers and viewers?
Is This Right?
A commercial precedes the story about the horrific massacre of nine congregants of a Charleston, South Carolina, church this past week.
To me it’s not only in bad taste but is disrespectful to those who died and their families. What happened to the “wall” between advertising and content? Has the wall been breached when both ad and content are inextricably linked?
When I was in advertising, our clients in industries that might experience a disaster — such as a plane crashing, or oil rig exploding — gave the networks standing orders to pull their commercials in the event of a disaster. It would have been unseemly, and not smart, to be promoting a get-away vacation when one of the advertiser’s planes went down because of an engine malfunction.
But that was before online advertising became ubiquitous. Maybe advertisers don’t have that ability now or don’t care. But it does an advertiser no good if a commercial offends a viewer. And the networks themselves should be more sensitive to where they run an advertiser’s TV spots.
I decided to check CNN and their coverage of the event. A bank commercial preceded their story, too, and it was even worst taste, in my view, because it showed two fencers sparring, each trying to hurt the other.
Social Media Pop-ups
You can’t compare pop-ups in magnitude of importance to an ad preceding the report of a human tragedy. But if you use pop-ups on your site, are you sensitive to the timing and content of the pop-up? Do you give your readers the time to read your post before they’re hit in the face with a pop-up? We know that many people loathe pop-ups but there is plenty of research to show that they work.
Even an authority site like Copyblogger concedes that but also points out the downsides: pop-ups can actually drive people away and interfere with your site’s functionality.
As Copyblogger also says, “As a website owner, you have to decide whether the benefit you get from pop-ups is worth the possible risk of harming the relationship with your readers — or with making your site just a little less appealing to link to, or share on social networks.”
The same could be said for NBC, Fox, ABC, and CBS. They, too, all aired commercials along with their coverage of the shooting in Charleston.
Does it matter or have we become so numbed by the sheer volume of commercials that we tune out and patiently wait for the real news to begin?