I was taking a break from shopping with my wife today and was flipping through the New York Times iPhone application to discover that they are trying out iPhone specific ads in the application. I thought the Dockers ad earlier this year signaled a wider adoption of this format but it never materialized.
In this case I also didn’t write this review because I totally missed the ad the first two times it came up because I didn’t know what it was and touched the screen which killed the ad. This Visa ad uses the accelerometer to let you tip the ad back and forth to steer a series of billboards into the center of the screen to see what they have to offer. If you like one of the ads you touch it to stop it and then touch it to launch a mobile web page with the offer.
After experiencing the ad I find myself feeling the need to rant once again about how technology isn’t an idea for a lot of reasons. I didn’t understand the connection between the billboards and the Visa brand as it only seemed to serve as an easy excuse for the accelerometer technique. I also felt that the presentation of the billboards was really slow to develop as you had to wait for each sign to move down the road and I didn’t stay in the ad long enough to count the total number of these ads with the ad. I will admit that I am harder to impress than the generic public but the half life of the technique for me was about 4 billboards before I wanted to move on. An interface option to control the speed of the billboards or the ability to advance to the next one would have kept me in the ad longer as even that simple customization would have created some variety and more interest. I still think that these type of interactive iPhone ad hold a lot of promise to create deeper engagement than what we are able to create through traditional ad units but we all have to get past the ‘gee whiz’ technique stage first and come up with some better concepts.