The Usability of Advertising


Having been steeped in the world of digital media the last couple of years and seeing how important usability is to web companies, it dawned on me that perhaps we marketers should begin to ask ourselves about the usability of advertising. I don’t mean to pile on, but I read a $20-30,000 ad in The New York Times today, the headline for which was “Excellence.” One world headlines are so awesome!

The usability of this ad was close to nil. If you don’t know the company you flip the page. If you read the logo and know the company, then from a usability standpoint you must decide if you want to spend the time to find out what is excellent about the company. This presumes the company being excellent is newsworthy — meaning it is not normally excellent.  If  it simply reinforces what you already know, the ad is not useful.

In order for an ad to have usability, it must educate, stimulate, show something never before seen, entertain (if one needs entertaining), or warm up a part of the brain that persuades. A usable ad makes you “feel something then do something.” Every maker and approver of ads should pay heed. We need to make more usable ads. Peace!