Monthly Archives: January 2011

Vaughan Gordon

Google & An Advertising Secret

By Vaughan Gordon

Waiting for a train yesterday, the billboard below caught my attention (please excuse the lousy picture!). But, I’m certain, my attention wasn’t grabbed for the reason that the advertiser wanted.

Google’s new ad campaign…

Now before you read any further I’d be grateful if you could check that no-one is looking over your shoulder and, if you can, please close any curtains or blinds because I’m about to let you into an advertising secret…
Ready? The point of advertising is to persuade people to use / get / buy whatever it is that you are advertising.
Obvious isn’t it. Yet this simple fact seems to be constantly overlooked in favour of producing something that purports to be ‘clever’.
Any printed advertisement, whether it be in a magazine or, as in this case, a billboard at a station has (if it’s lucky) at most, one second to catch your attention and make you want to read it. For me the only reason I bothered to read this one at all was because I knew it was worthy blog-fodder.
You might be asking just what’s wrong with it. Well, look at the three lines below and decide which is the easiest to read:
  • ISTHISLINEOFTEXTTHEEASIESTTOREAD?
  • IS THIS LINE OF TEXT THE EASIEST TO READ?
  • Is this line of text the easiest to read?
I can’t imagine that anyone would say that the first was the easiest to comprehend. Sticking my neck out a little, I hope we can all agree that whilst the second line is legible, the final one is the winner of the easy reading prize. (We can discuss whether each word should be capitalised or not later over a few pints in the Slippery Ferret’s saloon bar).
Time to exercise your imagination muscles – you didn’t think that reading this blog post would be a totally passive experience did you?
Picture yourself either standing on a station platform waiting for the 9.20 to Liverpool Lime Street, or sitting on a train as it stops at Ashford International.You’re gazing around the station while you wait and there are, of course, billboards carrying advertisements. Would you really stop and try to decipher something written in the style of the first example I gave above?
More than likely your gaze would wander off elsewhere – perhaps to the passenger with unfeasibly large amounts of luggage – or your attention to what to have for lunch. Either way, the advertiser has manifestly failed to grab your attention and would have been better off spending their money on something else.
So why has Google produced this leviathan of a word? After all it’s the German language that takes delight in running words together when a new one is needed and I don’t believe for one minute that even they would take things that far.
My guess is that a person, or persons, at whichever agency Google employ to create their advertisements, thought they were being clever, and that by leaving out the spaces visually emphasising the speed that they’re trying to convey.
Me? I think they’d have done a far better job by leaving the spaces in.
Actually if Google do call (the details are here: http://www.vgandassociates.com/contact-us), I’ll tell them that what I’d do is use a shorter headline and put some text in the body of the ad too!
Gerald Woodgate, Associate, VG&A