Landing pages: Necessary web marketing tools or superflous customer annoyances?

I’ve been thinking a lot about landing pages lately. Specifically, I’m wondering if I could find some benefit from them.

It struck me today as I hurried to “continue to Businessweek.com” that I’m not sure landing pages are all that different from those annoying, full page ads that block us from the content we’re trying to reach. (I know, I know … blasphemy.)

There are a number of cases that demonstrate how landing pages can serve as great tools to measure other online ads’ effectiveness. But do our customers and readers really want them? If I walk into a grocery store, does some junior cashier bound in front of me to pitch me on their discounts? “Hey man, I’m already here, settle down.”

Granted, if a visit comes from a click-through, the expectation to be sold to is already evident. I argue that the call to action has already succeeded: the user has clicked on your ad. From there, shouldn’t our existing Website content be strong enough to win a conversion?

Am I off the rails on this?

What do K-Swiss’s Kenny Powers vids say about the state of Internet marketing?

Image from 72andsunny.com

He's changing f#@$ing Internet Marketing

To say the Kenny Powers K-Swiss videos are not safe for work is tantamount to saying Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious” was not a family show. And in that fact lies just one of this fantastic campaign’s many successes.

1. Advertising can be entertainment 
If someone decides to not sneak into the breakroom with their laptop to drain the company WIFI, it means they’re making time to watch it somewhere else. What company wouldn’t want its marketing efforts to be considered appointment television?

2. A new future has been created
The video series also demonstrates that the Internet provides companies a tremendous amount of freedom that traditional channels do not allow. The swearing. The porn references. Even the violence. It all works. K-Swiss was brave to accept 72 and Sunny’s pitch. And that courage will set a precedent, to be sure.

It was also a risk to allow actor Danny McBride to unleash Powers, a down and out ex-major league pitcher character on HBO’s “East Bound and Down.” Would it fail if the character isn’t recognized by those not familiar with the show? The answer is clearly no, it would’t. And it hasn’t.

3. You can make something go viral
Yep, “going viral” is a nasty Web marketing cliche—but only when applied to campaigns that are trying to become viral. In the early days of YouTube (you know, 20 minutes ago), vids like the “Is this real life?” kid and Double Rainbow went viral naturally. Celebrities and marketing companies tried several times to replicate that kind of exposure only to, well, fail. This led to marketers preaching that you couldn’t force an Internet video to go viral, it just had to happen naturally. Not so anymore. I saw this video for the first time more than a month ago. It was just sent to me again via e-mail with a message that indicated my buddy had just discovered it.

4. Sports product marketing doesn’t have to be about sports
Sure, K-Swiss is using athletes in this campaign, but how are they using them? Their roles are mainly for comedic purposes. We don’t see a lot of stilted, pedantic game performance video telling us we’ll be like Matt Cassel if we wear K-Swiss Tubes. Perfect. In fact, K-Swiss will sell more shoes as an homage to these ads than they will for their intended purpose, which is what, by the way? I’m not even sure. But these ads show us that it doesn’t matter.

So if you haven’t seen the K-Swiss campaign in question, just Google it. Just don’t do it at work.