I recently ran across a brilliant article that might help us all improve our blogging and blogging experience. The title was titillating and I knew it would solve my problems, but it took a while to find the blog content. When I did, I had to weigh a very important decision.
Is the content in the article worth the advertising assault on the eyes?
I wanted to write about the article. I wanted to promote it to my readers to let them know I’d found a worthy treasure. I wanted them to take time from their busy schedule to seek out this treasure and learn and grow from digesting the wisdom in the article. Yet…
My eyes hurt scanning the page looking for the words of wisdom I knew would be there. I had to poke and scroll around looking for the magic words. Finally I found them, under 6 rows (and 8 ads) between the header and the content.
You would think that I would be doing my famous dance of joy to have finally uncovered the magic treasure of lessons and wisdom. I was, until I encountered my first ad after the first paragraph.
Paragraphs were separated by huge chunks of empty whitespace with ugly text ads barely related to the information I sought. Within the words of the paragraphs were links with double underlines, highlighted in ugly green colors, which produced pop up AJAX ads when my mouse accidentally moved over them. On other links, web preview pages popped up, covering what I was trying so eager to read through all the advertising.
It was a three column layout and the two sidebars were stuffed with tons of ads and links (censored version show here). I couldn’t find any navigation that led to more or related content within the site itself. It did feature a very long blogroll, which indicated to me that they were more concerned about linking to off-site blogs rather than to themselves. I finally gave up on my hunt for navigation links. They might have been there, but I couldn’t find it through the clutter.
There were text ads, picture ads, mall ads, free visitor counter ads, tabbed ads, AJAX ads, revolving ads, blinking ads, all sorts of advertising stuffed into every corner. I was nervous about hovering over any link for fear it would trigger a pop up another web page preview or ad.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad”, we are assaulted with advertising literally everywhere we look.
Add this to the endangered list: blank spaces.
Advertisers seem determined to fill every last one of them. Supermarket eggs have been stamped with the names of CBS television shows. Subway turnstiles bear messages from Geico auto insurance. Chinese food cartons promote Continental Airways. US Airways is selling ads on motion sickness bags. And the trays used in airport security lines have been hawking Rolodexes.
Marketers used to try their hardest to reach people at home, when they were watching TV or reading newspapers or magazines. But consumers’ viewing and reading habits are so scattershot now that many advertisers say the best way to reach time-pressed consumers is to try to catch their eye at literally every turn.
For me, instead of convincing me to buy, I’m faced with a bigger decision.
Whether or not the content superseded the horrid assault of advertising.
The look, layout, and content of your blog influences our judgment as to the quality of the content, or so sayeth the promoters of web page preview links.
Okay, so we’re not past surface judgments yet. I’ve found brilliant content on ugly web pages, so I’m generally unbiased recommending such articles. This, however, was more eye junk than necessary.
These are some of the assumptions and questions I made as part of my decision-making process on whether to link or not link:
- Doesn’t this blogger have any self respect for whitespace and cleanliness? Is their life as cluttered as their blog?
- The feel of the page is that it is out-of-date and old fashioned, thus the information on the page must also be old.
- The clutter makes the article difficult to read and look at. Why should I assault my readers with a recommendation for hard-to-read articles?
- Does this site I’m about to highly recommend really complement my own site and quality standards?
- Doesn’t this blogger stay up-to-date on web fashions as well as trends? Overkill on ads is very out-of-date.
- The content is most likely not be original to the blog. It’s probably a purchased or scrapped article.
- This blogger spends more time chasing advertising and traffic link baits than really producing quality content and information.
- They are more into making money than sharing knowledge and information.
The issue is not about whether or not the blogger has the right to include ads or generate income from their blogs. The issue is when is too much too much?
My question to you is:
What do you think about a blog with too many ads?
Does the amount and type of advertising on a blog influence your opinion of the content? Would you recommend blogs and articles with such over-kill on advertising to your readers? Do you even think about how the site looks before you recommend it?
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress, and is a long time support volunteer for WordPress. Lorelle travels too much and reports from life on the road in Taking Your Camera on the Road and covers family history and genealogy on Lorelle’s Family History, and writes for too many blogs, ezines, and magazines.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.