by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 21st 2008 11:21pm
A few months back, we started a series of posts on the topic of adveritisng being the same thing as content, meaning that if the content sucks, it won't be very effective as advertising. So, it should come as no surprise that those who rely on banner or "display" ads for revenue are discovering that the business is hitting a rough patch. It certainly worked for a while, in the "gold rush" phase. However, these days there's a ton of ad blindness out there -- and that's because most banner ads suck as content. And, before anyone brings it up in the comments -- yes, we do have banner ads on this site -- and that's for a few reasons. First, while it may suck for the advertisers, it's still lucrative for publishers (though, that can't last unless the content gets better). So, we might as well take advantage of that. But, more importantly, it's a tiny fraction of our revenue, and it's been more useful from an educational standpoint than as a revenue generator. We're certainly not relying on bad advertising as a business model, and have done a few small scale experiments in trying to try out some ad banners that are somewhat more useful. Still, I worry about the many sites that do rely on such advertising. Advertising has always been something of a cyclical market, and with so many companies now relying on pure display advertising, it may get pretty ugly. At some point, the advertising industry has to realize that simply putting up useless (or, worse, annoying) banner ads isn't particularly effective.
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