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October 30, 2011

Today’s Ugliness Won’t Last Forever

Filed under: Design,Layout,Usability — admin @ 5:41 pm

Frédéric Filloux on the state of advertising on news-related websites:

The exponential rise of inventories coupled to fragile economic conditions have pushed ad agencies to ask more (space) for less money. And, for the creativity, the encephalogram remains desperately flat.

The challenge of digital advertising on news sites is something that fascinates me. I can’t help feeling that there’s a better, more effective way of generating revenue for these sites. A multitude of gaudy adverts, bolted on to the outside of the content doesn’t appear — outwardly, at least — to be the most effective solution, yet it’s what most sites seem to do. Is it because it’s the only thing that works? Surely there’s a better way? (I ask those questions in a positive way — I do not pretend for one moment to understand all the pressures & restrictions facing purveyors of digital news.)

The only part of Filloux’s article that I’m not sure about concerns how the increase in mobile device usage will affect this trend:

Thanks to the rise of mobile internet, the pendulum is likely to swing back: smaller screens will result in fewer ads carrying more value.

There’s nothing in today’s digital news landscape that makes me believe this will be true. At the very least, it’s going to take some time to get here — news sites are still going to try & shoehorn adverts into their mobile offerings.

Take the CNN news iPhone app as an example. The main reason I don’t use it is that they interrupt the flow of the content — surely a cardinal sin — with a banner ad. Every story has the same, interruptive advertisement smack bang in the middle of the flow.

The CNN news app showing a banner ad interrupting the main flow of the content

The pendulum for advertising within mobile digital news offerings would appear to be over the ‘interruptive’ end of the spectrum at the moment. Hopefully it’ll swing back — both for mobile and desktop — in time.

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