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The User Experience or the Ad Revenue? How Many Ads Are Too Many?

Updated: Mar 26

Ad Blockers and the User Experience Series Part III



How Many Ads Are Too Many

How Many Ads Are Too Many?


How many ads are too many? In a story by S.E. Smith of The Verge, The AnswerLab’s Director of Strategy, Jason Buhle, expressed that developers too often push the limits. They use short-term metrics rather than long-term results, ignoring the user experience. 


“You really have to do active research, not just look at analytics,” Buhle stated. “What they can’t see is how it makes people feel.” He added that decision-makers look at what’s right in front of their face rather than considering the consequences.


In a follow-up story, Smith wrote of pop-ups continuing to proliferate simply because they are popular. 


“When I asked some marketers to explain themselves, I started feeling like I was talking to an AI assigned to the prompt ‘tell me why pop-ups are good, actually.’ Meanwhile, UI/UX experts and nearly everyone who has ever actually used a computer disagree, vehemently. So how did we get here? Why is one of the ‘most hated’ elements of web design, a tactic known to provoke irritation and meaningfully disrupt the use of a website, returning with an aggressive vengeance?”


What Are The Most Annoying Ads

What Are The Most Annoying Ads?


Statista recently surveyed 5,000 U.S. Internet users, asking which online ads are most annoying. The clear winner was auto-play videos (with audio), with 49 percent of the vote. Next on the list, Americans also dislike targeted ads, “whether it's based on online searches (38 percent) or based on interests extracted from their social media activities (34 percent).” 


If you manage to avoid auto-play videos, targeted ads or pop-ups, you take fewer chances than me. In Part I and Part II of the series I explored ad blockers and how ads affect a website's credibility. Most people know when they are being played for a fool, especially when the message is blinking in your face telling you.


Below is a list of the most intrusive elements:


Ad Elements that Ruin the User Experience

  • Forced pop-ups and interstitials: Ads that typically float over the content as you scroll down and are difficult to close, or interstitials that redirect the user away from the main content without offering a path back.


  • Autoplay video & audio ads: Typically occur when you load a page and a video or audio file automatically starts playing without ever engaging with it. Users find this annoying.


  • Large stick ads that cover more than 30% of the bottom of the screen: These ads can be intrusive and make it difficult for users to navigate the website.


  • Intrusive ads: Ads that interrupt the user's natural flow and ruin their experience with your website, which results in a higher bounce rate and less ad revenue.


  • Junky and repetitive programmatic ads: These ads are automatically placed by Google and others and can be annoying and repetitive.


  • Ads that take time to load: Ads that force the content page to shift abruptly can ruin the user experience.


  • Ads that clog up bandwidth: Ads that use a lot of bandwidth can make the website slow and difficult to use, especially on mobile devices.

Courtesy of Vendasta

what is whitelisting

What Is Whitelisting?


Experienced web users realize that everything is for sale. They know their behavior is tracked through cookies and other techniques, and submitting their email address opens a can of worms. Whitelisting applications, IPs, emails, software or domains deemed safe by the network administrator or user is an extreme option to keep security issues at bay. However, it will quickly drive the user crazy with its limitations.


It is one method of developing your own VIP list. However, if a website you encounter detects your ad blocker, blocks content, and requests you enter a maze of steps to remove your blocker, now you know why you created your whitelist in the first place. 


It’s okay, I’m with the band. 

Not so fast, bro.


The User Experience or the Ad Revenue? How Many Ads Are Too Many

Old Ads Are For the Cavemen

Pat Whelan of Adtoniq, a permission-based ad software company, points out that consumers no longer put up with the old advertising tricks.


“Years ago, marketers lulled themselves into thinking consumers wanted to see their ads when in actuality they did not. They missed the obvious - that cranking up the volume, frequency, irrelevancy and intrusiveness of ads, turned consumers off. To then track, capture and sell personal data was the last straw.”


Blacklisting dangerous locations is another option, though your list will grow faster than your spam folder.


In Part IV I'll cover the widespread use of ad blockers, solutions for avoiding ads, and a look into the future of advertising on the internet.

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End of Part III


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