How to Annoy Your Customers

Sometimes our great marketing ideas backfire.

Warner Brothers Video, for instance, had what they must have thought was a great idea. On the Netflix DVD of Sherlock Holmes, you can’t skip to the menu without watching about 20 minutes of commercials.

Now, that might have seemed like a great idea to the gang in the marketing department.

But to the customer, it just seemed annoying at best. Certainly didn’t make me all warn & fuzzy about buying more of their DVDs – that’s for sure.

Advice: if you can’t “wow” your customers, at least try not to annoy them.

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  • Yes, ads are cropping up everywhere, being run before a chosen video is shown. Sites which do that are dropped from my list. Ads I don't want to see, but are run just the same, waste my time and I just click away, even though I really wanted to see the video.

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  • I hear ya on that one Ray. You can however fast forward through most of those force fed previews. Either way… annoying!

  • Dan

    At the same time, I wonder what the “end result” is of that marketing practice. Frank Kern has sent me such annoying emails that I angrily unsubscribe, but the customers who stay on his list end up buying. Maybe we should only annoy our customers if we can track direct response?

  • Ray,

    I couldn't agree more… about both not annoying your customers and having to sit through a bunch of commercials on dvd's. Especially kids' dvd's when my kids are desperate to watch Blue's Clues or something.

    These marketing guys seem to think just because you bought the dvd that they have permission to interrupt your anticipation of the movie with ads you don't want to see… every time you watch it (like that's going to make you want to see those ads more).

    I would hope they would get the clue… but, then again, I'd bet money they're not really getting to know their customers.

    – John

  • Sean

    The service should work like this: You pay 20.00 or whatever for a DVD.

    1. You play the dvd and if you choose to watch the ads you get 1.00 credit per minute of advertising you watch — up to the limit of the dvd price. It is voluntary. If you don't watch the ads you're out 20.00 but that's it.

    1b. Once you've watched each ad once you the dvd no longer gives credits for watching advertising.You can re-sell DVD's with ad credits for more money because there are always people who'll watch them for the credits.

    2. You must manually (button on your remote) accept each ad to prevent customers from abusing the system by putting the DVD on and going to work and coming home to a bunch of ad credits for advertising that was never actually viewed.

    3. You can choose to opt out and pay the DVD price or watch and get paid to watch the sponsors advertising.

    4. The credits are either written onto the DVD or to an online service. Offline people can bring the DVD back to have the advertising credit registered to their account.

    5. Online people will have their ad credits posted to their account online.

    This would require a slight change in the implementation of existing technology but not much. It would not be difficult to produce Ad enabled DVD players that could write to a reserved rewritable spot on the read only DVD.

    In principle that's how the system currently works. We get free TV by air or cheap TV by cable — It's always paid for by advertising. We can walk away and do other stuff or we can sit and watch. At least my system almost guarantees a legitimate exchange of value that represents the way the current advertising system was intended to work – and it would not piss off customers.

    DVD publishers who make you pay for the DVD and then try to force you to pay again to watch advertising are just idiots with an unsustainable business model. Consumers try to avoid advertising unless you reward them for watching. They work even harder to avoid advertising you try to force them to view. They also tend to develop strong negative associations towards companies that are dumb enough to use these annoying stunts.