While the current trend is to block Internet advertisements, it is interesting to analyze how some sites defend their use of Internet ads by explaining that advertising makes it possible and profitable to publish content to Internet users for free. As Internet advertising is one of the services we offer, we were not going to preach against our parish by waving a sign that says “stop Internet advertising.” On the other hand, it is distressing to note that advertising (and more specifically advertisements on mobile devices) can be very intrusive and can strongly harm user experience. Here is an example from our experience. Contextualization: reading web-based news via a smartphone (“Wiko Rainbow” for those who are interested). We still don’t know what 8 foods we shouldn’t refrigerate:
When Internet advertising harms user experience
Upon first analysis of the waterline (which appears on our screen before scrolling to read the rest); we see here that the content that interests us represents more than half of the screen, ranging from the URL of the site, the menu, the title, the share buttons (useless here as we do not typically share articles before reading them), the author and a first advertisement. Let us at least acknowledge that this ad is at least in the theme of the article. The problem comes more from the fact that this publicity disrupts the reading of the article and the clicks it registers will come more often because the users want to make it disappear rather than to visit its contents. Google also confirmed this information to us when we were wondering if we should use contextual advertising for one of our customers. Let’s move on…
Internet ads in bilingual spaces
As you can see here, the content/advertising relationship remains much the same since the content is still presented between the advertisements (although this time the ad is much larger). We are still dealing with the same topic of food with this advertising but the choice of the language is clearly inappropriate considering that the content of the article is written in French. We could blame this on the fact that we are located in Montreal; however, even when overlooking this the user experience is degraded due the big blue button with an arrow that makes a user click on it, thinking that they will land on the second page of the article, rather than on advertisement. Note that our first ad is still present and will accompany us until the end of our reading unless we try to make it disappear once we have spotted the discretely concealed x.
When Internet advertisements are linked together
So this is where we reach the boiling point: no more content, only advertisements in both French and English. This kind of Internet advertising often records a high rate of clicks not because it is interesting for the reader or because it adds value to the article, but because phones tend to interpret the touch for a click when readers try and scroll to see the content that follows the ads (as explained earlier in this article). It is obvious that this type of practice impairs the user experience and does not help advocate for mobile Internet advertising.
Conclusion: say yes to mobile advertising, but in moderation
It is true that many free content sites could not survive without Internet advertising. Ad blockers are likely to jeopardize sites that exist thanks to advertising or they may encourage the arrival of paid sites (without ads), thus creating a new era in which we have to choose between viewing advertising or paying not to. Advertisers must work harder and find new ways to insert their advertising more naturally so that they do not degrade the user experience while bringing real added value to the user.
To go further, read our article: Our tips for creating an effective mobile ad