Online Publishers' Solution To Falling Ad Revenues: Bigger, More Annoying Ads

from the sledgehammer-on-a-thumbtack dept

Things aren't looking good for the online ad market: reduced spending by advertisers combined with the fact that people don't pay a whole lot of attention to banner ads portends doom and gloom. While the first part of that equation might be out of online publishers' control, they're trying to tackle the second part not by recognizing that advertising needs to be engaging or interesting content in order to be satisfying, but rather by clubbing internet users over the head with some new, huge and intrusive banner ad formats. Say hello to the Fixed Panel, which is a huge vertical banner that "scrolls to the top and bottom of the page as a user scrolls", the XXL Box, which is pretty much exactly what it says, and the Pushdown, the biggest of the bunch, which rolls down from the top of the page to get right in the user's face. The trade group behind these new formats says they are "designed to help stimulate a renaissance of creative advertising on the Internet that meets the needs of marketers by better integrating their messages into the fabric of the Web." That sounds like a lot of buzzwords, but conspicuous by its absence is any mention of the user's experience of these ads. These ads might grab users' attention through brute force, but will the experience be a positive one? It seems likely that intrusive advertising that gets in users' way will simply make the current situation worse by driving users away from the content. This is a further reflection of just how dead the captive advertising model is. Consumers have plenty of choices about where to get their content online; if a publishers' advertising keeps getting in their way, they'll move on and get content from somewhere else.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chris, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:34am

    Ad Block Plus still stops em all in their tracks, so it's not a big deal. no i don't work for them or something, but i do love their firefox plug in. the web is so much prettier without annoying, blinking, rolling over, scrolling, or even text ads. i'm starting to think the only good advertising online is your company's website or gimmiky youtube videos and the like.

     

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  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:42am

    Re:

    I'll agree to that!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:44am

    Huge Annoying Ads

    I run FF w/ adblock at home so no worries there.

    But when I am reading articles at work (a lot the past few days as I've been doing CFD work which is 30 minutes to an hour of work then a few horus of waiting) I use IE6. These ads you've described make me want to burn the internet to the ground. Since that isn't possible I avoid any website that uses them

     

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  4.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:07am

    I've noticed a lot more ads becoming annoying recently. The two most annoying for me right now are the redirect pages (that randomly stop you from visiting the next page of an article for a few seconds while they run a full page ad) and the banner ads that play a sound if your cursor rolls over them. The former are plain annoying while the latter can be stupid and embarrassing if there's people nearby. Those rolldown ads are also annoying, but at least they're relatively easy to dismiss most of the time.

    I honestly don't know what the point is. If I don't click on your ad, it's because I'm not interested, not because I didn't notice it. If ad revenue is lower, well look around. People don't have the money to spend on frivolous items, and that's what most of these ads are for. If I see too many stupid ads, I'm just going to stop visiting the sites that run them.

    It would be nice to be able to run adblock everywhere, but in some environments it's just not possible. In the meantime, you're just annoying me by running these ads, not convincing me to part with money.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Plugins for ad filtering

    I usually surf with plain old Firefox. I have been okay with their pop-up blocker.

    I forgot about using plugins to filter out all ads. If the ads I do see starts to become annoying, I might remember those plugins.

    I'll disagree about the "driving users away" part. There's an option to get the content without the ads. The result is the same though-- fewer eyeballs on the ads.

     

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  6.  
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    NeoArcane (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:25am

    Second the Good Content Required.

    Don't know about the rest of you, but I happen to LOVE the mac banner ads. I watch those whenever I see a new one. But I totally agree on the intrusive annoying ads. Back to a common thread on TechDirt - try making it INTERESTING to the users and we won't block it! Otherwise, I put your company name on my "buy from anyone but" list.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    At least when i see one of these ads I will will know where not to spend my money.

     

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  8.  
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    Matt, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    attempting to monetize

    This has failed so many times before. Why would they do this again? Oh right, RIAA style logic.

     

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  9.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    Ad Block Plus still stops em all in their tracks
    Only if you add the offending thing to the list, which is getting trickier by the day.

    In a few sites I visit, some webmasters have gotten smart by putting "dailies" on the very image server used to display the page. Block the image from /* and the entire site won't display.

    Bastards.

    At any rate, AdBlock is still useful, but don't be surprised if you're spending more time putting images into the list than enjoying the web page.

    For me, when I hit a site like this, it's "buh-bye", never to return.

    Now, on topic: These techniques aren't new and have been around for quite some time. I've a feeling they're going to get worse before the site gets better.

    It's pretty damn appalling to see a website used to generate revenue through ads rather than use the website to POINT to revenue generating products or services ad free.

    I pity websites that use ads on their pages. Yes, this includes Techdirt, especially when Mike's admitted Techdirt doesn't need them (and thus, should set a damn example especially with a blog story like this).

    Ah well, what can anyone do anymore.
    /$0.02

     

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  10.  
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    Yakko Warner, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:47am

    Re: Plugins for ad filtering

    Sometimes ad-blocking plug-ins aren't an option (work or library or other issues where you can't control what is installed on the PC; and not everyone is savvy enough to know to run Portable Firefox and/or remember to keep their USB stick with them always). And not all ad blockers catch all ads -- a lot like viruses and anti-virus software, coders on both sides are constantly trying to find a way around/to catch each other, so that sometimes ads slip by until the ad blocker can be updated.

    I have searched for info in Google, come across a site, clicked on it, and closed it down when I saw the page and its annoying ads. So there have been cases where I've been driven away from the content.

    I've also seen cases where an interstitial page is used to display an ad, but the ad blocker blocks it, but the page waits for the ad to "finish" before redirecting to the content. Because the ad is blocked, the ad never finishes, so I never see the content.

    I actually came across one site very recently that detected my use of an ad blocker (just some javascript that checked to make sure an ad image loaded with the page), and when it did, it redirected from the content page to a separate "please disable your ad blocker" page. Yeah, there's a site I'm not visiting again.

     

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  11.  
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    Evil Mike, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    Advertising as Content / in Content

    Time to get back to putting Pepsi in the TV show, and maybe quips like "as I sit here writing this; drinking my 'Swiss Miss' brand hot cocoa" could be inserted by the paid authors as more subtle suitable paid-for advertising...

     

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  12.  
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    Avatar28, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Plugins for ad filtering

    Easy fix for that, disable Javascript or at least block that specific javascript (which ABP can do).

     

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  13.  
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    POed, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    HEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOO ad blocker.

     

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  14.  
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    some old guy, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Plugins for ad filtering

    I use NoScript to allow all 1st party scripts but to block all 3rd party scripts. AdBlock rarely needs to do a damn thing.

    Only downside is there are a few major websites where you have to whitelist their secondary domain names in order to get to the static content. But you only have to whitelist them one time, and it works forever.

     

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  15.  
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    duucfho, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    adblock + filtersetG

    i use firefox portable with the adblock extension. I also auto update using the filterset.G updater extension. that way, i don't have to manually add anything into the filters myself, and i've never felt the need to for several years now.

    for those of you who use FF, get adblock plus, as well as the filterset.G

     

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  16.  
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    Ryan, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:55am

    adblock is part of the problem

    Even if companies made ads engaging and useful, people still wouldn't see them - thanks to programs like adblock. That's what's driving companies to make more annoying ads. Even the most useful relevant engaging ad, still isn't seen.

    As a website publisher, I don't allow any annoying ads on my website - but I do understand the problem these companies are facing.. and I know that useful engaging ads won't solve the problem entirely.

     

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  17.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Sadly, this declining ad market is exactly what is suppose to support all the "FREE!" stuff on the net like youtube. You wonder why the musicians and record labels don't want to sign percentage of revenue deals?

    Thanks Carlos for proving once again that Mike isn't getting it.

     

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  18.  
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    Terry Robinson, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 11:14am

    Adblockers still work

    I was poking around for examples of these gaudy ads but the combination of Adblock Plus and NoScript stopped them. Looks like I'll never get the "full experience" of this "renaissance" of adwork. Damn.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Ilfar, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Driven Away By Ads

    I can point to two cases off the top of my head where I was driven away by ads. In one case, the adserver was slowing down page loading times - and it used those annoying bright flashy ads a lot. I ended up dropping five instances of daily updating webcomics because of this, webcomics I greatly enjoyed, but simply weren't worth the annoyance factor.

    The second case is some flash ads. I've never had a problem with them on most pages, but a few pages they actually slow my system down when they're running.

    For anything but the flickery ads, I've found I simply tune the content out now. That block of text on the right side of the screen is probably an ad, so I just don't bother giving it any attention. With the flickery ads, I stop using the page.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Jim, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Necessary Evil? I think not.

    I had an executive at my company basically strangle our site with banner ads, it was awful.

    We seriously almost died as a company because he had a spreadsheet that told him that since we had one banner on some of our pages that if we put X more banners on Y more pages, then we would make X*Y*adrevenue. Seriously.

    I could only present my opinion, and because he was an exec and I was just a lowly lead developer, we went forward with it.

    I redesigned our site layout to accommodate the ads, closed my eyes, and put them in.

    We soon saw a significant jump in ad revenue. I even got a bonus for making it happen. And then we started hemorrhaging users. Badly.

    Our pageloads were hitting like 10-15 seconds, we had the noisy-flashy-trashy ads, and some ads loaded javascript code that collided with our site code and actually crashed some of our pages.

    And our users exercised the ultimate control that all webusers have over their experience. They just left.

    NEVER AGAIN. Not while I work here anyway.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    R. Miles, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    Re:

    Thanks Carlos for proving once again that Mike isn't getting it.
    You make it much too easy to be a target, Harold.

    Do you not know how to read? Did you skip the part about reduced spending on ads? This isn't our fault who get stuff for free, now is it?

    Instead of working towards a beneficial system, these idiots are struggling to make the current ads work by making them more intrusive, and thus, ineffective in the long run when people leave.

    Besides, ads aren't supposed to support a website. This stupid notion has been around since the inception of the World Wide Web and I have no pity for those who think it's still a viable revenue opportunity.

    Sure, it can offset costs, but it shouldn't support the damn business.

    The webpage itself IS THE DAMN AD, and should be used accordingly.

    But people like you consistently rely on these outdated models to think they should pay for everything.

    Such idiotic thinking. Get a clue already.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    I've had serious issues with certain web pages recently where they place an ad that completely blocks the content.
    It only seemed to start a few weeks ago, but i decided to stop visiting those pages. Whats the deal with the ads not having a visible close button or x in the corner? Those are the worst ones i have seen yet.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Your Mother, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Don't Trust Ads/Banners etc..

    Even with the Google ad layout and keyword "top of the list" placings; I don't click them. EVER. I don't click any banner or advertising link. EVER. If I am tricked by clicking an AD by a website I trust, I don't go back to them. EVER. I know advertising is a necessary evil for "free content". When it's done the right way (on the web) it shouldn't be annoying. I wouldn't have seen the "Sprint" ad here at this site, if the last time I came here it jumped in my face or tricked me to going to their site. Because I wouldn't be here. After seeing it enough, and NOT interacting with it (clicking it), it will find itself in my brain. The next time I want a new phone, Sprint may come to mind. PERIOD. When it comes to shopping, sites and product developers should be honest, informative, unintrusive, and easy. Afterall, it is then when I am purposely going on the web to investigate and purchase. If you want me to buy from you focus on your product, your website, and your customer service. I'll find you when I need to. PS Coca Cola

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re:

    if you are encountering that problem then you don't have Adblock plus properly set-up. here is a C&P of a tutorial I did for someone else:

    if they really bug you that much here is something you can do:


    1: download firefox if you don't already use it.


    2: install the Adblock Plus extension


    3: after you finish installing Adblock Plus, you can go to their Subscription page and scroll down to add what you want as well as the rickroll blacklist. or you should be able to just click each of the following links to install my suggested filters. the Easy list, adblockrules.com, EasyPrivacy, Malware Domains (this might slow your browser startup by a bit, it is a big list), Myspace Junk Filter (gets rid of a bunch of myspace junk), and finally the Rickroll Blacklist


    once you do all that, not only will you see much fewer ads on the internet, most rickroll videos won't load either.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Yep, adblocker plus and firefox...gets rid of most of them.

    If I landed on any site that used ads that adblocker couldn't handle I'd leave...anybody that wants to advertise in my face with ads I can't get rid of should pay me first. Still, even then I doubt I'd hang around a site that did that because it shows absolutely NO concern for customers.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Dave, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Ad Wars

    It's the next step in the battle between ad blockers and ad revenue.

    Ads come around at first nice and simple, then as ad revenue soars, some companies abuse the power and make bloated annoying ads to try and spike their income.

    So along come ad blockers to fight back against the horrible ad companies, but they block ads all over the place, not just on the abusive sites.

    Ads get blocked, so ad revenue goes down. When ad revenue goes down, advertisers just figure that ads aren't working, so they stop paying companies to put up their ads.

    Companies want the ad revenue so they freak out and try to make bigger nastier ads.

    @R. Miles:
    "Besides, ads aren't supposed to support a website. This stupid notion has been around since the inception of the World Wide Web and I have no pity for those who think it's still a viable revenue opportunity."

    So... the entire reason Google is a multibillion dollar company is wrong?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Chacha102, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    I don't notice ads

    I really don't notice ads. And because I'm in the younger generation of people, I think that everyone else in this generation has been taught to ignore them as well. This will mean that in 5-10 years when the majority of the new generation are using the web, we won't be clicking on ads. Meaning that eventually, the medium will die.

    Does anyone here honestly click on ads?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    Re: I don't notice ads

    back before I got adblock there were a few sites that very carefully picked the ads they allowed on their site (and charged a premium for it) so that they were tailored to the website's audience. I not only followed one ad but it led me to buying a video game from an independent game maker and is still counted among some of my favorite game purchases.

    then too many sites did annoying in your face ads that had little or nothing to do with the page and I didn't care about them so I got adblock. I actually consider turning adblock off once in a while on certain sites to see if the ads are any good.

     

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  29.  
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    Matt Cheuvront, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 5:01pm

    Turn the other cheek

    For the most part, I hardly recognize ads on a website (unless it is something extremely eye catching or on a website I know who selectively chooses the advertisers present). That being said, there will never be an end to shameless plugging all over the web (and off the web for that matter). Where will they think to put ads next?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re:

    You are an angry sort of a guy. Someone must have made you pay for something you felt entitled to enjoy without cost.

    The website isn't the DAMN AD. It is an eyeball aggregation system, nothing more and nothing less. It may sell the company's own products, or it may sell ads to sell other people's products (or send the eyeballs to a site that can do it). As soon as a single paid link or ad is on a site, it's an ad supported site (just like this one). Even web2.0 darlings like Youtube are just trading entertainment for eyeball time, and doing it on the cheap with content they don't like to pay for.

    So, hey, explain to me the beneficial system to run, I dunno, CNN.COM? How about Perezhilton.com? CNN actually risks losing viewership of their news channel to people getting their news online instead. So should they give that news away for free without advertising because it gets them some future benefit? What is that future benefit?

    The only thing that is idiotic around here is suggesting to toss something in the trash without having a replacement for it ready.

     

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  31.  
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    lavi d (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:54pm

    Serendipity

    With any luck, these new annoyances won't work in Firefox on Linux x86_64. Like The Daily Show and UberPrints.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Keith, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:44pm

    Not making the most of it.

    Banner Ads are wonderful when you know how to use them and more importantly, where to use them. The sites that offer poor programs will either adapt or go away. Don't look for banner ads to go away (we thought that in 2001 too).

    There is a great article geared to small business at http://www.emarketingmatador.com/online-ads-moving-past-search-marketing. It is the tip with the rest of the ice berg being testing and experience. Its only go for another 6 weeks or so (then the positions and ad sizes will likely change) C'est la vie.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    bowerbird, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 1:46am

    i am curious about just how stupid they can get,
    because they just keep continuing to amaze me.

    -bowerbird

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Stephen Pate, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 2:21am

    intrusive ads

    I hate those sites with the ads that persist. I agree - if the ad or any content is interesting, cool then I'm watching it. Those companies that intrude are not too wise since I usually get irritated at the product. I don't know XXL for XXX but I do remember the car or cable company that tries to take my eyeballs and waste my time.
    '

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Janne, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 5:40am

    NoScript + AdBlock = FU

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Jeff Rife, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Plugins for ad filtering

    Although a true kiosk (like a library) would be an issue since it should reset to defaults, if you have Firefox installed on the PC, you can install extensions without any special privileges.

    By default, extensions install in your profile directory, not in the Firefox program directory.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    dragonmouth, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 3:46pm

    Re: adblock is part of the problem

    Your, or anybody else's, right to display ads ends at my screen. It is MY screen. I control what is displayed on it, not you, not any company. If I wish to use adblock, noscript and other programs to block ads, tough! Live with it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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