Microsoft Research Shows High Cost of Bad Online Advertising

The Cost of Annoying Display Ads. Bing Jump Start: Tune your website and web apps to maximize search. Microsoft and FBI takes down over 1,400 Citadel botnets.

Microsoft Research suggests that "bad online ads: aren't just annoying and ineffective - they can hurt an advertiser's brand and cost them real money.

The paper's authors conducted a two-experiment investigation to: "Analyze dislay-ad features that are annoying; and Place a monetary value on the cost of the annoyances."

The the paper entitled, "The Cost of Annoying Ads," underscores the importance of making online ads that are relevant and useful to consumers. "It investigates the problem of annoying ads, noting that web display ads, when done poorly and without the needs of the end consumer in mind, often do more harm than good for publishers and the advertiser's brand," write MSR.

"Throughout Microsoft, we're doing everything we can to raise the bar for online ads, both in search and display," wrote Microsoft Advertising exec Jennifer Creegan.

"That means a combination of consumer research, co-ideation with our partners and revolutionary experiences like Windows 8," adds Creegan.

So, what constitutes an annoying display ad on the web?

Is it the use of garish colors, as in a Halloween theme gone amok? Is it a page seemingly designed to cram in as many blinking, spinning, animated GIFs as possible? Is an ad annoying when clicking it generates a pop-up in response? Dancing-baby ads, anyone?

"Certainly the use of any of these tactics probably irritates web users. Just as certainly, anybody with even a modest acquaintance with the web probably can cite at least one such ad-induced headache. The typical response might turn an old cliché on its head: "I don't know much about annoying ads, but I know them when I see them," writes Rob Knies.

Have a look at the MSR paper here (pdf).

Also, Microsoft Advertising is offering tips and best practices on how build Web sites that are easy to discover in a virtual classroom today, June 4th from 1:00pm - 3:00 pm (PDT).

The online course show the best and fastest way to direct traffic to your website, and provide guidance on Web site architecture, page load time, getting your site indexed, and the resources available within the Bing Toolbox, including APIs and SDK documentation.

Also, the free course will introduce marketing opportunities (SEM) to complement and enhance your SEO efforts.

Here is the complete list of offerings:

  • "Basics of Search and why it is important
  • How are new form factors changing search overall?
  • How do you drive traffic to your websites and Apps
  • How to maximize Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • What is the Yahoo Bing Network?
  • Basics of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Resources," Bing adds.

Check it out by visiting the Bing Programs.

Update 06/06: Microsoft with the FBI and US Marshals, executed raids on computer servers located in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and seized evidence from those servers to seize over 1,400 Citadel botnets.

The malware infected PCs all over the world, recorded the keystrokes of users, enabling the people in charge of the Citadel botnet to learn passwords that allowed them to access online and even bank accounts.

"Microsoft also found that in addition to being responsible for more than half a billion dollars (USD) in losses among people and businesses worldwide, the Citadel malware has affected upwards of five million people, with some of the highest number of infections appearing in the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and Australia. Citadel is a global threat that is believed may have already infected victims in more than ninety countries worldwide since its inception," Microsoft stated in a press release.

"During our investigation we found that Citadel blocked victims' access to many legitimate anti-virus/anti-malware sites, making it so people may not have been able to easily remove this threat from their computer. However, with the disruptive action, victims should now be able to access these previously blocked sites," wrote Richard Domingues Boscovich, AGC, Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, in a blog post.