The Mozy ads that are mentioned in this post are no longer running. On January 28, 2011 a Mozy employee named Ryan commented on this post with the following:
Gentlemen, I would like to apologize for the tone of those ads. It was I that wrote those several years ago in one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” moments. And while they actually do convert pretty well, they don’t reflect the appropriate attitude towards our (potential-)customers. And I think that’s more important.
I’ve now removed them from our rotation. I really do appreciate your feedback.
I no longer see those ads on the Jungle Disk keyword. The Amazon S3 keyword has an aggressive, but respectful ad now:
I use a free Dropbox account to store some project files for a website that a friend and I work on. We’re filling it up quickly and I’m considering our options. I think the best option is to just use a rather large FTP account that we have, but in an effort to be thorough I searched out other consumer level cloud storage providers. The first two that come to my mind are Dropbox and SugarSync. However there’s a third one that I overlook: Jungle Disk.
Because I’m unfamiliar with the product, I googled Jungle Disk’s brand name to find their corporate site. My eye was attracted to a lone AdWords ad on the right side of the page:
The ad is for a competing cloud storage provider that most of us know about called Mozy. I refreshed the page and saw a different and even less flattering bit of ad copy:
I was very surprised at these two ads. Insulting a competitor so blatantly? Self-assigning the title “#1 Online Backup Company”? Attempting to win my business by insulting me with snarky questions? I also found it ironic that they advertised a price that, by my comparison, is not as good as what Jungle Disk offers. I was not amused by the advertising.
I decided to search for the brand names of other cloud storage vendors to see if Mozy was taking this aggressive track elsewhere. I searched for Dropbox, SugarSync, Syncplicity, ZumoDrive and even enterprise cloud storage providers like Amazon S3, Nirvanix and EMC Atmos Online. Interestlingly, I was only able to find Mozy’s insulting ad copy on one other keyword: Amazon S3. That doesn’t seem like a prime competitor to me, but I guess Mozy knows its business better than I do.
In the course of looking at competing advertisements on a service’s keywords, I discovered what I think is a great example of an aggressive yet tasteful advertisement:
Laplink makes a bold statement, but it’s not insulting or demeaning. I didn’t click on the link to see if they backed up their statement (I didn’t want to needlessly cost them PPC advertising money), but presumably they would present at least some facts about their service so a savvy shopper could compare.
Let me describe the kind of advertisement that I think is acceptable. First, I think it’s okay to be confrontational in advertisements. Some might disagree with me on that, and it’s certainly a fine line. If you have a product that is better than someone else’s product, I think it’s acceptable to advertise on their keywords or say “we’re better than this other product!” Having said that, I think it’s a bad thing if that’s your only advertising strategy. Never be defined by a negative. Also, always back up your claims of superiority. I’ve found plenty of good anti-spam and other edge appliances that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of as a result of rather aggressive ad campaigns on Barracuda keywords.
I also think it’s okay to ask your customers direct questions within your advertisements. “Is your archiving solution compliant?” “Are you sure your DR solution can handle a meteor impact?” etc. Asking questions is very effective in advertisements, but you have to make sure you’re asking the right questions.
So what are bad tactics in advertising? For one, personal attacks against your competitor. It’s one thing to say “Our products are better than this other one and here’s why” and quite another to say “This competing product sucks!”
Even worse is insulting your customers. For example, saying “I hope you’re joking,” when someone is searching for one of your competitors. Not only has Mozy slung mud at Jungle Disk, but they’ve also managed to call into question the intelligence of potential customers. I can’t say for sure if that AdWords campaign is working, but it’s certainly not wooing me over to Mozy.
It is important to note that I don’t take this bit of ad copy as a sign that Mozy is evil. In truth, this ad is one of probably thousands. It was probably written and decided upon by just one person in a much larger organization. I’m sure Mozy has an excellent product and great people working for them. However, most people aren’t quite as charitable and I suspect that most people will think twice about Mozy after seeing that ad.
Advertisers, take note. This isn’t middle school where boys impress girls by seeing who can insult the other with the sharpest wit. Be aggressive if you want, but keep it factual and don’t call anyone names. Especially your customer.