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Thread: New Pop-up Banner Ad at Bottom of Brower Screen?

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  1. #15
    Preparing for winter VeryBigBeard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    I disabled ad-blocking on AW back around when the MetaFilter thread was posted and have been happy to continue that way because I know how much work goes into the ad choices here and they aren't intrusive. I don't want to come across as whiny here, because I totally get the need for revenue, but I feel like the pop-up ad might slowly push me back to at least partial ad-blocking. I'm willing to try and avoid that because an ad company that will tweak is valuable, but yeah.

    Two other thoughts spring to mind:

    From a UX perspective, one of the problems with the ad is it's abstracted from the interface. So it operates like an overlay rather than a natural part of the page--like having a Heads-Up Display when you're playing a video game. We talk a lot in game design about abstraction. It used to be super popular for a long time but the trend has been to move away from it fairly sharply because research and testing consistently shows it distracts rather than complements the interaction design. Different context, and I get that with online advertising a certain amount of distraction is in fact the goal. But I'm a big believer in seamless UX being the most effective UX and given posts on AW tend towards the lengthy even by forum standards it is really hard to read with that ad there, blocking half a poster's extended ramble. Whereas I've actually found myself drawn to click the site-top ad once or twice not only if it's a book I think I might like (i.e., community-relevant ad) but also because it fits that spot so well: you open AW and here's a different book or book-service before we get to the forums about books. I realize that won't keep the lights on alone, but I wonder if there's a way to make the new ad more a part of AW's natural interface instead of sitting on top.

    Second thought is about ad-tech. For a couple personal reasons I've been doing more reading on ad-tech and online advertising lately. I had some nagging curiosity after a couple jobs and that got me to Bob Hoffman's "Ad Contrarian" site as well as Doc Searls' Twitter feed. There's obviously a lot of debate on the efficacy of online advertising, but much of what I've read suggests fairly strongly, and with some fairly compelling evidence (at least to me), that online algorithmic advertising returns are very, very marginal in most cases, especially with large publishers or communities. The mainstream media has tried for years to survive on ever-more-sophisticated ad-tech and it doesn't work. This also jives with my extremely limited personal experience working, briefly, doing some digital advertising. The reach usually just isn't there. Perhaps I'm overly cynical, but for a site of AW's size, with as diverse a community as it is here (a real asset in writing terms but a hurdle in ad-targeting terms) I kinda question whether online ads are ever going to really work, particularly given I've so far seen ads down there for Expedia and Las Vegas casinos neither of which I am remotely interested in and neither of which seems to jive with the broader audience here. Granted I'm running a fair number of anti-tracking extensions so I typically don't get many targeted ads, but as that becomes more and more common ad-tech becomes ever less effective.

    I totally get the financial decision, even if it's just to defray costs. I also admit I'm no expert on these things, just a curious reader. It seems to me that the best and also most secure approach is what Ari suggests: members need to donate and or do a funding drive. If my financial situation was even slightly better I'd be donating already. I hope to be able to in the not-to-distant future. In the mean-time, best of luck to Mac and Lisa in figuring this out. Thanks for keeping us all in mind.

    ETA: Just noticed another UX thing as I was editing my post: when I go into the editor or refresh the page, the ad frame changes as well. It actually seems a little unstable (maybe the ongoing tweaks?). It also seems to change really quickly, adding to the distraction. If I'm anything like a lot of the more, er, dedicated posters, we refresh pages a lot and we reply quickly. At the moment, quick changes seem to be playing havoc with the ad. It feels like it's built for reading/scrolling but a lot of AWers spend a lot of time writing here. I know this thing would be driving me batty if I was doing a LBL crit right now.
    Last edited by VeryBigBeard; 05-20-2017 at 08:12 AM. Reason: missed an it's/its--is it possible to target ads to people who notice stuff like that?

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