Tig just spent three weeks in Europe and writes about his pleasant experiences with the advertising environment across the pond in the latest ClickZ. I've always believed clutter is one of the biggest problems with the state of advertising in the U.S. I don't care how good an ad is, how is it supposed to work it's magic when it's surrounded by so much noise?
Online news browsing was pleasantly free of pop-ups. TV news would run 10 minutes before a commercial break. The experience was like surfing PBS.com rather than ABC.com. By the time a sponsorship appears, the viewer's ready for a break. Creative receives a great deal more viewer attention as a result. European advertisers don't squander that attention. They run with it.
Tig also says something else which really made me think about the full potential of online advertising. Tig is talking about offline media, but think online:
Creative is more engaging, using humor, cleverness, and eye-stopping images. An American gets the impression Europeans trust their audiences to understand word play and subtle nuances of humor. Of course, Europe's smaller markets are much more ethnically and culturally unified compared to our vast melting pot. A more tightly knit community can be trusted to get the joke. [emphasis mine]
Although I hate the "C" word when it comes to marketing, the internet is best for allowing tightly knit communities to exist without the physical boundaries of space. An advertiser who is truly engaged with a community can deliver a message to that community better than if he is an outsider.