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Interactive Online Display Ads: T-Mobile Gets It Right... Almost

Posted on Monday, July 07, 2008 by Rick Breslin in Online Marketing

I thought "Finally, an online display ad that offers some value to the viewer."

Yesterday, I was reading an article on cNET concerning the recent rumors that Microsoft may actually buy out Yahoo (yeah, I've heard that before). At the bottom of the page, I always check out the comments left by other readers, since they sometimes tend to offer better insight than the author(s). To the right of the comments, I noticed an online display ad by T-Mobile. I captured the three main frames in the rudimentary animation, shown below:

Screen 1 of T-Mobile Display Ad Screen 2 of T-Mobile Display Ad Screen 3 of T-Mobile Display Ad

It's seldom that you come across a compelling display ad online. T-Mobile nailed the first part, but dropped the ball on the execution.

How cool is this?!?!

I thought "Finally - an online display ad that offers some value to the viewer." I'm already a T-Mobile customer, but I'm definitely interested in checking out my coverage area on a map (I'm guessing it would be some kind of Google Maps mashup with colored streets of green, orange, and red). I click on the ad, and I get this page (shown to the right.

T-Mobile Landing Page Error

This is a Microsoft ASP.NET error. My intention is not to "geek out" here and explain the error, but instead, point out the huge missed opportunity by T-Mobile. Had this display ad actually led to an interactive map, where I could enter my Zip Code and view my local coverage areas, I would have been sharing this with a number of people. Also, it would have reinforced my confidence in the T-Mobile brand (since I'm already a customer).

Instead, they've become a case study on our blog - this post could easily be titled "What Not To Do When Advertising Online." A for effort, T-Mobile... F for Execution.

[Update] About 15 minutes after posting this article, T-Mobile removed the page/error located at sticktogether.com/coverage

[Update #2] They finally worked out all the bugs, but only after potentially thousands of people received the error. Lesson learned - test, test, test!! Also, I'm not impressed by the map when you get there - it's a fake, and it links you over to their consumer web site. Very disappointed.

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