Today, I was reading a story on small farmers and the food industry on Slate.com when something was really bothering me. My internet was slow for some reason so I first got the story. A few seconds went by and I was starting to get into the article. When all the sudden, the ads all started to load. I couldn’t even read the story. I kept trying to fight it but one ad came from the bottom. Another came on top. I was really trying hard to concentrate but it wasn’t happening. So instead of finishing my article, I am writing this post.
Online publishers need to understand the difference between their readers reading (or hearing) and taking action when it comes to ads.
The point of any publisher is to publish quality (relative to the audience’s judgement) stories and content. The way it sells advertising that gets clicked on is by having relative and targeted advertising to the topic and the audience reading that story.
Ye. So you knew that. Now an online publisher places ads all over their site. The bottom toolbar, inline within the content, huge block to the right, animations going on and add some popups on top of all that. So what are you saying to me when you do that?
I came to your site to read an article that your journalist took the time to write. I clicked on the article because it interested me. You spend most of your resources as a company making sure this experience is good for me but yet, you have another department of your company (or completely outsourced one) trying to kill the experience. Keep in mind that you also told me that I should read this ad when you put it on this story. I trust you.
You’re trying to kill my experience. How? Well, not just because the ads are flying all over the place but because you want me to click on it. I don’t think anyone comes back to the article after clicking on it. Yes, the click. You can’t click a newspaper ad. You’re going to keep moving to the next story. You can’t click an ad on the radio. You’re going to keep listening to the next piece of content.
The best way to think about this is to see how much content is viewed after you serve a super relevant ad to an online reader. Probably very very very very little.
When you compare that to TV, radio, or newspaper, that is a fundamental difference. Yes, it is better for the advertiser but if the publisher doesn’t do it right, it goes against everything they setup their organization to do.
So how do you fix it? You have to understand sequence and flow. When do I want to ask this person to check out this advertisement and how? and the hint is that it is definitely not how you’re doing it now. It’s a hard problem to solve and only some companies have figured how to actually fit advertising into the customer flow. Mint.com would be an excellent example although they are not an online publisher.
Whatever the solution is, the metric to use will be in increasing your reader’s post-ad experience content served.