Sometimes, I wonder if advertisers are even trying.
Digital magazines have only existed for a few years, but I don’t think I’m asking too much when I say that if you’re going to advertise in one, you should at least be able to utilize the most basic functionality that this platform provides to help you tell your story.
I’m reminded of how poorly most advertisers have adapted to digital magazines as a medium every time I see this ad from Kohler:
The ad is for the Flipside, a four-sided faucet with ‘Flipstream Technology’ that gives you four unique spray patterns depending on how you flip the faucet head.
Seems like a pretty interesting product, right?
Since this was a digital ad in a digital magazine, I immediately tried to grab the faucet head and ‘flip’ it to see the other three spray patterns. The result of my flipping was… nothing. The ad did absolutely nothing, and had no response to my touch input.
Ok, I thought, there are four spray patterns, and the iPad that I’m holding has four sides, so maybe all is not lost. Maybe it was too difficult to program the ad so that the faucet head rotated with my finger, but maybe it’ll show off each of the four spray patterns as I rotate the device. So I turned my iPad 90 degrees, and low and behold, the ad changed!
Perfect, I though. Now we’re getting somewhere! I’ll just give it another rotation and…
Crap. There are four ways to hold the device, and four possible spray patterns, but no matter what you do, you can only view two of those four patterns.
Even discovering the second spray pattern is left to chance, since the ad gives no indication that you should rotate it to see more images. I poked and swiped and tapped at the screen, but nothing unlocked the other two images. It will recognize portrait mode, and show one pattern, and it will recognize landscape mode, and show another pattern, but spray patterns three and four are apparently left to the imagination.
(Maybe the other two spray patterns just aren’t that good, and Kohler doesn’t show them on purpose?)
The end result is that I’ve gone from an interested consumer that’s willing to touch and play with the product, to a frustrated consumer that’s put off by the experience, and put off by a brand that didn’t take the time to create an ad that would show off its product’s main feature in an intuitive and engaging way.
To make matters worse, I would have been better served by a static ad that was just divided in fourths and showed four images of the four spray patterns. Or a carousel that scanned through static images on a timed rotation. Or hell, even a YouTube embed that showed a :15 demo of the faucet turning from spray pattern to spray pattern would have been more informative than what Kohler came up with.
It should also be noted, I wasn’t viewing this ad in the latest issue of US Weekly. This ad appeared in an issue of Wired, a magazine that caters to the early adopter crowd. And I have to imagine that Kohler bought the ad in Wired because they felt that the Flipside faucet would appeal to this digital, tech savvy audience.
And by all accounts, it should. It certainly looks the part. And I’m sure the different spray patterns are useful for different situations, and nicely integrated into a new and innovative product. But you’d never know by just looking at the ad, since you’re only able to poke at a static image of two spray patterns, and can’t find out more information without spending time searching online. (Which I’m not likely to do, given the fact that I’m not currently in the market for a new faucet. However, like most people, I’m always open to be wow’ed by something that I didn’t even know I needed, and could have found myself in the market for a new faucet if this ad had showed me all the things that I was missing with my current faucet in a quick and easy way.)
So what should advertisers keep in mind when designing a successful ad for a digital magazine?
- If your audience is in an environment where they want to touch and play with things, make sure your ad can be touched and played with.
- If your ad needs to be rotated or scrolled or tapped or engaged with in any way, make sure to highlight that fact in an obvious way. Don’t leave it up to chance.
- Don’t hide important information behind confusing and non-intuitive interactions.
- There are many ways to tell the same story, and sometimes, simpler is better. Don’t let novelty get in the way.
- Digital magazines are the future. If you’re not ready to produce ads for them, then you better get ready soon.
Best practices for digital magazine ads are hard to come by, since the medium is still so new. With that said, the opportunity should not be ignored, since this new format gives advertisers a whole new set of tools to tell stories in immersive and engaging ways.