Friday, July 20, 2007

Acrostic messages make controversial return

Controversy reigns in the world of online advertising as increasing number of websites are using subliminal or even guerrilla tactics to maximise their advertising revenue.

Luke Billingsworth, a writer for a technology blog, said that the terms of service of programmes such as Google’s Adsense prevent webmasters from making direct pleas to their visitors to click on such advertising.

"I would love to be able to say to my readers ‘If you like the story click on our sponsors and help this site’ but I just can’t do it," explained Mr Billingsworth. "The web community, however, won’t be held back and they will always look for alternative approaches."

Currently the trend is to move away from tiresome pop-ups adverts or blunt interstitial pages, to more subtle techniques and reviving some age-old favourite techniques.

"Knowing how observant and intelligent my readers are enables me to use very subtle techniques," said Anne Corman, the writer of a satirical website. "My readers are used to peering over the rose tinted spectacles of traditional writing and I can rely on them to find the messages."

Advertisers are concerned that this revival of techniques such as acrostic writing may lead to an increase in more random traffic which would dilute the targeted audience they are receiving from the increasingly sophisticated overt advertising.

"Doubtless that risk exists but then as the alternative is people not clicking on ads at all then advertisers will probably take a more relaxed attitude," commented Mr Billingsworth.

Sadly many discerning visitors who do decipher the codes that writers are incorporating in their work many never get a public thanks. "You can only stretch a gag so far and sometimes there just are not enough paragraphs to say ‘Thanks’," lamented Anne Corman.

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