Compartmentalization of thought is something you need when browsing the web. You can get bogged down or frustrated in the banner ads and all the other clutter that comes up, but if you just accept and train yourself to ignore them, then it will stop bothering you.
This is obviously not a recommendation that Google or other ad providers would support, especially since a significant percentage of web content is sponsored by advertisements. But I digress…
So here is what happened the other day. Google chat has this “cute” feature to save the chat sessions into Gmail. (I wish they would do something similar by integrating Google Reader into Gmail, but again I go on a tangent). So anyway, I was having a discussion with an analyst on my team about the need to explore 3rd party controls for a particular functionality that we needed to have in the application.
After the discussion, I go back to Gmail to check the discussion again. As I said before, I normally tune out the ads displayed, but this time, something caught my attention. The ad engine displayed a few relevant products. I clicked on one of these and found what I wanted, which I passed onto my analyst.
This is the sort of functionality that really does the job for users. By getting it right in this case, the Google ad stopped being a nuisance and served a legitimate, useful purpose for the user. How much of the functionality of your product helps the user and how much of it gets in their way or just plain irritates them? Something to think about!