PointRoll Calls It A Creative Showcase; I Call It A Shooting Gallery

PointRoll, a rich banner ad technology provider, offers a creative showcase page that lists some of its customers and what they’ve done with PointRoll’s technologies.  Since so many of you readers come from Internet searches for banner ad and banner ad testing, I’d like to use this bit as a bit of a jumping off point for some things you need to look for when testing banner ads.

For starters, all of the technologies that designers use to make banner ads come without the failsafes you find in IDEs and established development languages that prevent inattentive developers (I’m sorry, that’s redundant) from making basic interface, such as not accounting for standardish interface behaviors (Control+click to multiselect from a list, double-clicking, click and drag, and so on).  Flash and whatnot do not provide those sorts of built-in bumpers, so you have to try to click and drag elements of the ads to see if you can make a mockery of your client’s crafted image.

I wanted to throw that out there to start with before getting into specific uh-ohs I found in the PointRoll showcase.

Bank of America has a little ad with a poll that can use some work:

 Bank of America banner ad with poll
Click for full size

Now, if this were a poll on a Web site, you’d click the Vote button to make sure it handles if you haven’t made a choice, right?  Well, a rich banner ad is a small application in its own right, so you’d better try that here, too.


Bank of America poll fails.
Click for full size

The banner ad just sets all of the things to the same.  To get around this, the banner ad could have preselected one and applied the vote to that total or, better, it could have provided some validation.  Poor form, Peter.

Here’s what it looks like when you make a choice and it calculates results:

When the BOA poll works.
Click for full size

Perfect, right?

Well, no.  The addition of the percentages to each line of text has shoved the long label “All of the Above” so its initial A abuts a line.

Now, some video plays, probably using a canned video player.  Watch that video’s optimization across banner sizes, kids; don’t let them turn it into 8-bit graphics so it looks like Mario talking to Samus Aran.

Now, about the design of the end of the video:

The end of the video
Click for full size

Hello, McFly.  Anyone home?  The canned replay text overlays, directly, the last tile so the text is obscured.  Take a couple minutes and nudge that around so you can end differently, or fade to black, for Pete’s sake, so it looks elegant.  I guess I should note that these kids were professional enough to not just let the video end on a random image within the file clip so that you end up looking at something weird while the video isn’t playing.

Now, enough with BOA.  Onto the CVS Pharmacy ad found here.  It’s got a lot of different panels and even features print capabilities.  Basically, you can click on an item in a rotating list of sale items to add it to a personal list which you could then print.  However, the application fails to handle mouse-out events cleanly.  When you mouseover an item, it says you can add it by clicking it; once you click it, it says you’ve added it when you mouseover.  However, when you have quite a list going, you can mouse into and out of the individual item images quickly enough to orphan the mouseover text:

CVS Pharmacy ad with orphaned text
Click for full size

How do you find things like that?  You mess with basic interface behavior, such as tooltips appearing and disappearing correctly.  These banner ads are like testing Java desktop applications in 1999, but without the neat chance of actually crashing the Java Virtual Machine enough to force your machine into a reboot.  Who am I kidding?  It’s all interpreted through Flash, kids.  There’s always a chance of bricking your PC from testing a banner ad, and if you do it, I salute you.

Now, about this Dr. Pepper ad.  It’s a funny little thing that allows you to design a cake, store it off I guess, and send an e-mail to a friend so he/she/it can see it.  Watch that designer-/developer-generated copy. Nobody has proofread it but the designer/developer.  Hah!  Just kidding.  Even he/she/it didn’t proofread it!  You’re the only hope.

Here, the designer/developer saves money from the apostrophe budget:

Dr. Pepper went through pre-med, not English
Click for full size

You remember what Emerson said about small minds?  Well, at least there was validation:

The validation matches the label, unfortunately.
Click for full size

Log that as two defects just to poke the designer/developer.

Those are a couple of samples; you’ll have to learn from them and apply them to your own experience testing rich banner ads.  If that’s not enough for you, buy my book when I get done with it and trick someone into publishing it.

One further note.  Is it PointRoll or Pointroll?  Hell if even they know.

It’s PointRoll on the gallery showcase page title:

Capital P, capital R
Click for full size

However, if you click again any of the sample pages for the individual banner ads above, you’ll see it’s only Pointroll in the titles.  You know the downside of a whacky, hip, trendy name for your company?  People in your own damn company will mispell it constantly in all of the possible places.

Finally, a note for those of you who noticed the disclaimer NOTE: This PointRoll Ad is provided for creative demonstration only and should not be used for any other type of testing. at the top and take me to task about QAing these banners.  First, banner ads that show on PointRoll should be feature complete in themselves; that means that things that go on within the banners themselves should work right and should be spelled right.  Actual things hooked up on the destination Web site and any data shared between the two might not yet work if a program or campaign hasn’t been pushed to live servers yet.  So the things I’ve highlighted, including the BOA poll thing, should have worked or been handled.  By the time it’s in PointRoll’s hands, your agency is done with it except for testing to make sure PointRoll hasn’t “fixed” the ad for you.

(Link to the showcase seen on Paper 2 Pixel, the blog of a designer who’s at least partially housetrained.)

No Responses to “PointRoll Calls It A Creative Showcase; I Call It A Shooting Gallery”

  1. pberry Says:

    What’s with [Answer Mo] and [Learn Mo] buttons anyway? I was thinking maybe it’s just cut off the text: “Learn More” would make sense, but “Answer More”?

  2. The Director Says:

    Perhaps the videos/campaigns feature a recurring character named Mo. I didn’t watch with the sound on, but as an added hint for testing banner ads and videos, listen to the sound quality, too; compression can wreak havoc upon it as well.

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