Hi there, advertisers. Let me first say – I like you. Generally. Advertising introduces me to products, services, places, and experiences that I might not otherwise recognize. Ads can be incredibly useful, and a very smart way to introduce me to that which you’re offering. For that, I thank you.
But I’m not turning off my AdBlocker. Sorry for the buzz kill.
Actually, I’m not sorry. If you’re one of the majority of publishers that use advertising responsibly, I recommend that you direct your frustration at a target outside of ad blockers and the people, like me, who use them. It’s a very easy target to locate. That target is the publishers who so completely abuse their advertising platform and destroy the user experience in an extraordinarily maddening fashion that I occasionally want to throw my computer or mobile device into a metal shredding machine.
But that would only hurt my bank account. So instead, I use an ad blocker.
What activities have so turned me against web-based advertising? Here’s a few.
If you use this, I …. well, my filter worked here. I almost typed what I feel. Instead, I’ll just say that if you use auto-play video, I’m going to do one of these things:
- Immediately pause the video and curse you under my breath.
- Immediately mute the video and curse you quietly.
- Hit the back button and grind my teeth while cursing you mentally.
- Close the browser tab and curse you in a regular tone of voice (for those rare instances when the ad freezes everything else on the page).
Why is an auto-play video so incredibly, overwhelmingly annoying?
- I’m usually not expecting it.
- I usually have multiple browser tabs open at once, and it can take a minute to figure out which greedy jerk has the video playing.
- It usually happens in an awkward environment like the office or through my phone on the bus – meaning I’m suddenly, frantically turning the volume down while also trying to figure out how to shut the freaking thing off.
So until you can learn that auto-play video is an incredibly irritating form of advertising that users HATE, LOATHE, and DESPISE, I’ll use an ad blocker to try and control the stupid things.
For the love of all that’s good, knock this crap off. I get that you want to interrupt the user experience in an attempt to get an email address, subscription, or whatever. That’s valuable information. However, if the very first thing I see on my mobile device is:
- a full-screen request for a subscription
- email address form
- random ad
- no easy way to close the damned thing (sorry, filter has a hole in it)
I’m just hitting the back button and ignoring your domain going forward.
For the desktop experience, it’s not much better. You use overlays that blur the content underneath the moment I hit the page. Really? I’m not giving you any of my information (and sure as hell not my money) without being able to see something of what I’m getting in return. Here are a few alternatives:
- Add a timer. Wait until the user has been on the site 15 seconds. Because if they don’t stick around that long, they’ve already decided they don’t like you.
- Embed the request a paragraph or so down into the content.
- Follow the Chicago Tribune example and give a few articles and then charge for access. I pay for my Tribune access because I enjoy reading the content.
- Use your right rail to prominently list the benefits of signing up. There are trillions of pieces of information on the internet (low estimate, I know). What makes your content so interesting that I need to pay for it? That’s not being snarky – that’s a legitimate question. Give me a viable answer, and I’ll subscribe.
Clueless executives that complain about ad blockers
Every time I see an article about some executive making upwards of half a million dollars a year complaining about how ad blockers are hurting revenue, I want to scream. Try USING your website as a normal user. Hold focus groups. Watch for the moment when the fingers clench or someone grabs the sides of the keyboard. What you’re not hearing are the screams of “YOU ANNOYING SONS OF…” that are echoing within the brains of your focus group participants.
Like I wrote in the beginning, I do like ads. But you have to be responsible, or you’re going to alienate your users. When you get greedy, we turn off. That’s not the fault of the ad blocker creators; that’s the fault of the greedy marketers that think their ads are perfectly deserving to be shoved down our throats. Well, you’re wrong, and we’re tired of it. So ad blockers it is. Want to change that? Change your approach to ad delivery. Some tips:
- Click-to-play video. Seriously. It’s not difficult. Stop complaining and just do it.
- Get rid of immediate full-screen overlays.
- Integrate ads in a way that fits with the rest of the UI.
- Don’t get super fancy with your Flash rollovers. Half of us won’t get it, and the other half will get ticked because the flipping things never close right.
- Use timed ads. If I’m on your site for 15 seconds, chances are I’m interested enough to see what all you’ve got to offer.
- Keep your whining half-million-dollar-or-more execs out of news streams. Introduce your woefully underpaid marketing manager that implements the changes above and helps increase your ad revenue 50% or more. Then give them a raise, along with everyone else that made it happen (developers, graphic designers, etc.).