Interrupting Ad Wh-
What’s that? You came here to read the news? Okay, no problem. But before you do, we need you to check out some ads.
Why this is a local advertising fail
This is a screenshot of a local news site. I went there, like most people in the community, because I was looking for something specific – and it wasn’t advertising.
Before I could even begin looking through their content, I was hit with this mess. The peel-over ad expanded before the page had even finished fully loading, by the way.
It’s bad for the user
Let’s face it, this is a bad user experience. Users come to a website because they are looking for something. This is especially true on the home page of a site, like the one in the screenshot. If you want your user to stay, you shouldn’t interfere with them trying to get to your content.
It’s bad for the advertiser
There are people that will tell you these types of interrupting ads work. They usually work for companies that sell this type of rich media ad technology. The majority of ads will not be cool enough for a user to stop what they are doing and interact with the ad.
Do you really want the user to notice your ad when they are frustrated? They may associate that frustration with your brand permanently.
And if someone tells you that these ads get a high click-through-rate, counter that point by asking them how well the ads drive conversions or sales. (Most people accidentally click, especially while trying to close the ad.)
It’s bad for the publisher
Publishers, especially news websites, are in a hard spot. Most newspaper websites struggle with creating enough ad revenue to support their sites. Unless they require readers to pay in order to access content, they have a difficult time supporting their massive overhead.
More ads is not the best answer to this problem.
In the above example, there are at least 5 spots above the “fold” (we can talk about how the internet doesn’t have a fold another time.)
The peel-back ad is blocking a floating house ad, which is blocking two other paying advertisers. The publisher will end up with unhappy advertisers and unhappy users for a very short-sighted revenue gain.
Best practices for local advertising
So how can publishers, advertisers and users all co-exist with free content? I don’t have all of the answers, but here are some suggestions.
- Remove some of the ads from the home page. Especially the rich media/intrusive ads. There are two on this home page and there really should be none.
- Let the users find the content. Publishers and advertisers would find users to be much more responsive if you give before you ask. Give the user the content they are looking for.
- Place your most premium ad spots in the content – not to the side or on top of before the content – but IN the actual content. In the case of a news site, this can be done with a nice 300×250 ad (or even larger) placed about mid-way int he story. Or break the story up into several pages and place your interrupting ad in-between the pages with an interstitial ad. But don’t try to interrupt them before they begin reading.
- Instead of more ads, charge higher prices for premium ads. I know this is a supply/demand sort of thing. Advertisers are used to stealing the inventory for rock bottom CPMs, so this leads publishers to put as many ad spots on their site as possible. This is an industry problem and I don’t have a concrete solution for it, but, maybe a bold publisher out there will eventually figure this out and others will follow suit.
Have you experienced this?
We want to hear from users, advertisers and even publishers about their experiences with these types of ads. Leave us a comment below!