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Now Brighter! August 13, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Show and Tell.

This has to qualify as my “WTF?!” moment of the day.

I needed to look something up on a dictionary while getting some work done this afternoon, so I keyed in Dictionary.com on my browser’s address bar. Before it loaded, I switched to the original window where I’d been doing some encoding (just to finish the column of numbers I was currently on), then switched back all prepared to type in my query. But for a brief moment I was stymied, because this is what I saw on my screen:

For a moment there, I thought I’d lost my mind. Why was there an ad for detergent on my screen? Had I keyed in the wrong URL? What the hell was going on? Then after a moment or two — probably when it sunk in that the Dictionary.com logo and the search box were still there — did I get it: they’re selling advertising on their frontpage!

Personally, I think it’s a bright idea (see what I did there?), especially since the site’s frontpage is usually bland. Plus, because it’s unexpected, it does create brand recall: as far as I’m concerned, Cheer and its tagline are now etched in my mind (for better or worse), and I am curious as to what other advertising might make its way onto the page in the future. Of course, this comes at some cost: in retrospect, I suppose the reason my mind couldn’t process what was going on at first was the dissonance between “Dictionary.com” and the ad copy’s prominent tagline of “brighter in 1 wash!”, which looks all the more strange in the screenshot above. But, hey, I had a good laugh, and I’m willing to bet that from a marketing standpoint that’s a good thing.

So, two valuable lessons I learned from this episode:

1.) There are interesting ways to go about advertising on the web.

2.) Dictionary.com is now brighter in 1 wash! My mind cannot process seeing two unrelated things in the same webpage.



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