A couple of weeks ago, Dare Comics, the UK publisher, auctioned the “world’s first perpetual advertisement” offering “a full page advertisement in every single one of Dare Comics’ online publications in perpetuity.”
Dare claims 75,000 online readers of The Hunter, averaging 1,000 new readers every day (which is kind of jusitfied by the stats on the download page). But does 74,303 page views actually equal 74,303 readers? Not really. Nine people have subscribed, which is probably a more accurate indicator of its popularity. Adam Hamdy, Dare Comics founder, said “This could be the smartest media purchase anyone ever makes.” I’d say it could be the smartest PR move Adam Hamdy ever makes.
The Hunter, is a good read, which — let’s face it — is the main thing. Disappointingly, the online version doesn’t take advantage of any of the multimedia possibilities a PC offers, existing simply as a PDF of the print version. Even worse, it uses page-turning software, which is possibly the naffest thing that a publisher can do with an online publication. With a little extra effort, the comic could have been optimised for a landscape format, showing a panel at a time rather than a whole page. Extra audio and simple animation could have been added, the speech bubbles could have appeared one at a time in chronological order, overcoming one of the limitations of the static version, cool transitions could have been added between panels, etc.
And that’s before we get to the advertising. Why follow the print model break the flow with interuptive full-page adverts? Surely products interwoven to the story line, a model that has been proven in the film industry, would be a better way to go? There is a full page advert dedicated to film-based t-shirts endorsed by Jonathon Ross. Why not have one of the characters wear one (or even Mr. Ross) and incorporate a hyperlink? On the fifth page, there’s a close up of a mobile phone, why not add a logo and incorporate a link? Sneakers, cars, sunglasses, watches and cosumer electronic goods appear throughout, which could all be effective branded content. The copy of Frankenstein which appears on page 61 could link through to Amazon…
With the interruptive advertising model terminally flawed, Dare has been quite smart, trying new ideas and creating awareness in the process. However, the tricky thing about great content is creating it in the first place. The smart thing to do, at an incremental investment, is then to optimise it across media. And if you have the audience and can get brands to pay for this along the way, more power to you.