Adverts, Adverts Everywhere!
In my recent post on science as clickbait, I commented on the decline of advertising revenues. I thought I might look at some of the reasons why Internet ads are not particularly profitable as more people switch to adblockers.
I understand why Internet ads exist. It costs money to run a website and produce content. Even my tiny little site has costs; hosting, domain registration and some of the software I use. I run this site at a loss. There are no ads here, as you’ve probably noticed. Expenditure is small enough that I can justify not trying to monetize my blog. However, if this site were bigger and involved multiple contributors, I would probably be forced into finding ways to pay for it all.
War on AdBlock
Internet ads are the obvious choice. The problem is, however, that advertisers have been so irresponsible over the years that people are actively searching for ways to get rid of them. This has provoked something of a war between content providers and adblockers. Some websites display begging notices if they detect an adblocker. Others are asking for a small subscription to account for the lost revenue. There are even websites that will block access to content if an adblocker is detected.
I understand why, but I still use an adblocker. It isn’t that I object to advertising in principle. Adverts pay for some of my favourite television programmes, and they subsidise other content I am interested in. However, much like my thought on unsolicited direct messages on Twitter, many adverts are a fucking nuisance.
PPV vs PPC
The trouble is that Internet advertising does not use a pay-per-view model in most cases. On television, advertisers buy ad space based on the perceived viewership at a given time. Therefore, adverts cost more on ITV1 during Coronation Street than they would on the SyFy channel at 2 am. That makes sense. Such a model on the Internet, however, would be subject to abuse. One could easily manipulate ads to be repeatedly served with no intention of clicking them. Therefore, Internet ads are often pay-per-engagement or pay-per-click, and the truth, is most of us don’t click ads.
Because we’re not clicking the ads, advertisers feel that they need to grab our attention. One method of doing this is auto-playing video adverts. These types of ad are really annoying. I am somebody who uses headphones while working on my computer. My volume levels are set on a per-application basis. Adblocking becomes a necessity when advertisers have no regard for a person’s hearing!
Some Webmasters are Wankers
Of course, not all advert related issues are necessarily the fault of the advertiser. The webmaster has to take some responsibility. There is a type of webmaster that I call the ‘plasterer’. These people shove ads wherever ads can go. They’ll put banner ads above, below and even in the middle of content. Block ads appear in sidebars, words in posts are hyperlinked to yet more advertising. Sometimes they will even go as far as to stick pop-up ads in when a user has scrolled down. The absolute worst of these can be found on clickbait sites that utilise slideshows, usually with a whole page ad every four or five pages.
I understand the theory. It’s like throwing darts at a dartboard blindly; eventually, you’ll hit the bullseye. Since clickbait sites exist to generate a lot of traffic, they expect to hit the bullseye regularly through high numbers.
Shooting Yourself in the Foot a Tad
However, all of these people hurt the advertising industry. They encourage users to resort to blocking extensions. The advertisers may not be responsible for the plasterer’s behaviour, but they could step in and stop it. User experience is critical to a website’s success. Even though this site does not make me money, I have invested my time and a few quid into a clean layout and a fast experience. Too much advertising would ruin the design, and would also degrade the speed as advertising resources load. Google is starting to penalise a site’s search ranking if it loads slowly, but that won’t matter too much when significant traffic is generated via social media sharing.
Before websites try and admonish AdBlock users, they should instead consider whether they are part of the problem? If they are behaving responsibly by not plastering their pages with ads, and not allowing auto-playing video ads, then they should aim to set an example to others. When browsing the Internet no longer runs the risk of permanent hearing loss, and when I’m not required to navigate through a hyperactive child’s idea of design to read the content I want to view, I’ll disable my adblocker. Until then, sorry, but it will be staying on.