I just watched an ad before an ad

I know TV is all about advertising, and what with DVRs all the rage these days, TV studios are scrambling to figure out how to make money. Hulu.com seems to be getting it right, with totally unobtrusive ads that don’t get in the way of watching TV. But on NBC.com, home of one of the founding studios behind Hulu, totally obtrusive and irrelevant ads litter the site like the offerings my neighbor’s little dog left in my yard before he mysteriously disappeared. I even had to watch an ad before I watched one of the new Olympic-themed ads for the Office.

Yes, I had to watch an ad before watching an ad.

I have to think NBC is getting paid way more for ads on full episodes of the Office than the small annoying ones they show before ads of the Office. Taking 8 minutes out of my half hour to show ads is one thing – taking 20 seconds before a 30 second ad is another. Is NBC a little too focused on making money?

Perhaps they are falling victim to a classic blunder – target fixation. Being so focused on an end goal can make you forget to pay attention to what’s happening around you, and what you might be doing that is detrimental to achieving your goal. Oftentimes target fixation can result in actually colliding with the target (not applicable to archery).

How could NBC fix things up? Maybe NBC.com doesn’t have to generate revenue on its own, maybe it can simply advertise NBC’s core business of making good television. Or maybe following a simple rule can help us all avoid a similar fate: paying attention to our surroundings and how our work is effecting people. Does NBC know their website reminds me of my backyard?

Do you know how your work is being perceived? How many people has your product alienated today?

posted by Jason Lynes on Monday, Aug 11, 2008
tagged with design, target fixation, nbc, usability, advertising