On Newspaper Sites, Ad Spam, and Lack of User Experience Foresight

  |  January 28, 2009   |  Comments

We all know the dire straits the newspaper industry is in

We all know the dire straits the newspaper industry is in. It's understandable, with online newspaper ad revenue growth dwindling, that these sites want to monetize with as many ads as they can. But some seem to forget user experience.

The fact is digital media is their future and if they can't get the user experience right, nobody's going to visit their sites. And if nobody visits their sites, well, they're screwed.

Here's what prompted this rant. I just read a really interesting Washington Times article about the new "Che" flick and how its star, Benicio Del Toro, walked out of an interview with the Times reporter (even though the guacamole at the restaurant was really good). The article even includes a supplementary video conversation with the reporter and lots of absorbing user comments.

Great! They get it -- they're taking advantage of multimedia and social media. These are two very important elements that could help newspaper sites succeed.

But, man, was the user experience bad.

First off, I'm served an ad I've seen around the Web a lot lately that I find pretty repulsive, and I'm probably not the only one. You know, the ad with a woman's flabby "before" gut beside a flat "after" one? It's for one of those acai berry diet products. I decided to include it here -- sorry.
acaiberryad.jpg
Ad networks and publishers: why are you accepting this crap? Maybe if everybody rejected more terrible ad creative we wouldn't have to be confronted with so much of it. Maybe it could actually improve user experience.

Not only do I have that image in my peripheral vision as I read what is -- again -- good content that should be treated with more respect, I'm served an ad in the video. The ad, like the display ads on the page, has zero contextual relevance nor behavioral relevance for that matter (unless someone's been browsing diet sites on my computer when I'm away from my desk). It's in an obnoxious format, too: an overlay text ad for -- you guessed it -- the berry diet. But the overlay obscures the reporter in the video and won't disappear until I click the magic "X."

The article is what I'd call of short feature length, about 1,200 words. But I have to click through to two new pages to get through it. The Washington Times certainly isn't the only site that uses this approach, but it's apparent the only purpose for this is to generate more pageviews. It's of no value to the user and to me is a turnoff.

But that's not all! After I closed my browser window, guess what appeared? Yep, two or three pop-unders. The only other site I frequent that does this is Mets.com (and they shouldn't be doing it either).

Again, I realize it's tough for newspapers and their Web sites right now, but bombarding users with one annoying experience after another is no way to build a loyal readership.


ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Product Specialist
      Product Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreDescription: The Product Specialist is hyper-focused on the customer experience and ensures that our...
    • Partnerships Senior Coordinator
      Partnerships Senior Coordinator (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for a Partnerships Senior Coordinator! Why join us? Our...
    • Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA) Manager
      Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA) Manager (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for an Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA...