We’ve heard of funny 404 error page Easter Eggs before, but … sponsored 404 pages? Strange. Apparently, that is the direction that Digg is headed, with an ad for Burger King set to appear on the error page that users hit when they type in a query with no results, BrandFreak reports. The ads, which were briefly up last week, are slated to reappear within the week. (The above picture is not an actual ad, but rather an artist’s rend.) The ads will be promoting Burger King’s “Tiny Hands” campaign, about a man with freakishly tiny hands who is sad because he cannot grasp a Burger King® Double Cheeseburger.
WalletPop grabbed the text of one such ad, which will be accompanied by a hypertext link to a “Tiny Hands” BK ad:
The error page is reported to say, “No results for ‘Your Search Error’ were found. Looks like your search had a typo. Blame it on your tiny hands. The beefy $1 Burger King Double Cheeseburger gives tiny hands some trouble, too.”
On the one (tiny) hand — ads on 404 pages? Do you really want to associate your brand with people who can’t even type in what they’re looking for correctly, the poltroons? More seriously, there’s a healthy contingent of the Internet — and of Digg — who are vociferously anti-ad, whatever form they take, and there will probably be some back-biting over this. And they’ve got a point: as clever as the ads may be, they represent (much like the product placement in the “Telephone” music video) the idea that every slice of an experience can be bought and sold.
Maybe it’s true, and maybe ‘content providers,’ as they’re known in soulless Internet lingo, who don’t do it are fools; but all of that slicing and selling is a hard reminder to people who read things on the Internet that the point of the sites they read and love is, foremost, to sell their eyeballs.
On the other: it is a clever idea, and relatively unobtrusive (though not as much so as the cleverer Dante’s Inferno ad hidden in Digg’s source code a while ago). And, as previously discovered, geeks do love them some 404 pages. More cynically, a lot of Digg users notoriously use AdBlock, and this could be a sneaky way to bypass that.