So I saw a banner ad for Aeon Flux at Rotten Tomatoes that is actually a nice compromise between function and annoyingness… which is a pretty unusual thing on the web. It’s a seemingly intractable dilemma–advertisers like big ads with animations and ample screen real estate, but web surfers hate pop-ups and pop-unders or giant-size vertical ads taking up half the screen (all of which seem necessary if you want more ad real estate than you’d get from a regular banner), and they hate flashy doodads animating in their peripheral vision and distracting them while they try to read the web page.
So this Aeon Flux ad is an interesting design: in it’s basic form, it looks like a regular-size banner ad with a fairly simple design, and it doesn’t animate at all. It sits in the regular banner ad space and doesn’t cover up shit that you are trying to read. But it’s also a drop-down–you can mouse over it to expand the ad to about two and a half times it’s banner size, and at that point you get animations and menus and more information. So advertisers get to have all that stuff in their ad, but readers only have to see it if they want to.
I like it. Finally, an ad designer who realizes that throwing flashy shit in a reader’s face is not a good way to get someone’s attention (well, it’s a good way to get their attention, but not a good way to keep it). This ad is more like a gentle tap on the shoulder. It’s there, in an unobtrusive fashion, and it can show you the flashy stuff if you are interested, but if not it leaves you to read the page in peace. I wish more advertisers would design ads like this.