Tricking the idiots


I’m sorry, idiots. I don’t really mean to be insulting. I just thought I’d go for a little bit of that shock value to see if more people would click over from Technorati. Kidding.

Filling up the tubes

FedEx has a page with their current television spots available for online viewing. The ads are witty and I generally like it when companies make their commercials available so I don’t have to track them down on ‘boards. Way to go marketing team – online commercials are the new blogs.

Knowing what to choose

What gets me is the labels for choosing a video format: Mac or PC. What? Since when were video formats on the web OS dependent and when did an OS dictate preferences? Being the non-idiot that I am (again, shock value), I went right ahead an clicked Mac from my Windows XP machine. How daring! But I got the result I expected: a .mov with its sexy little chrome. Then I went back for kicks and chose Windows and again got what I expected: a .wmv and its hideous huge chrome.

It’s an interesting approach that is sure to make it easy for some people. But if the goal is to have them choose a format based on operating system rather than their own personal preferences, why not just force it down their tube in the first place and give them custom content via a bit of browser sniffing rather than any choice at all?

If I were to create a persona for a user viewing commercials online, I’d expect them to know enough about video formats to be able to choose without an OS for a label. And even if they don’t know, a little bit of investigation never hurt (right, you only have two seconds of users time these days, oh wait, right, they are actually taking enough time to watch commercials online in the first place, this person wants to investigate). When I was still an idiot I wanted to learn enough to not be an idiot anymore. Labels like Quicktime and Windows Media Player actually tell a user what they are getting and help them the next time rather than leave them in the dark. Plus I think the names pretty much give things away in the event someone needs an OS hint anyway.

That was fun

There are plenty of media formats being used to distribute content online. Most of them will just work on any machine or prompt for a plugin download in the event it’s a brand new machine. The best way to make sure content continues to work as new formats become available and new uses for the content emerge is to make sure the users know enough about it to click the link that works for them and matches their preference, no matter what the label. Maybe I’m still an idiot.


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    Even better, clicking either of those on a Mac would yield the same result: Quicktime.

    I swear, flip4Mac is the best thing that ever happened to .wmv’s.

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