I was thinking about online advertising a while ago, and I wanted to put my thoughts down on the topic.

First off, I’m not a big fan of online advertising (or ads in general), but I’ll get to why later.  First, I’ll explain what advertising is in an online space.

Online advertising, whether it’s videos or images, are driven by two things: views and clicks. Together, these two measure the engagement of the ads.  Ads with low views are low value, while ads with high views and low clicks are unengaging.  Advertising agencies try to get as much value out of those two stats as they can.

So what’s the/my problem with online advertising?

1) It’s everywhere and/or disruptive.

You don’t really understand how prevalent online ads are until you use a service like adblocker to disable them.  Some sites look WHOLLY different with their advertising removed.

Additionally, advertising commercials placed in online video content can be extremely disruptive because the content is either not designed for ads or the ads are not placed where the content has pauses for ads.  I’ve even seen some services with such poor video advertising that they will show the same commercial multiple times in the same commercial break – or even in a row.  I’ve used services where the total variety of ads was so low, I would see every ad multiple times in a two-hour span of time.  That quickly became exhausting and irritating.

And some ads register and respond to clicks even when there has been no interaction with the advertising content – causing pop-ups or new pages to load when users do not desire that.  Such links can even be malicious, and attempt to download viruses or other unwelcome software – I’ll discuss this in further detail later.

2) It can be deceptive.

Advertising on the download pages of many software sites use banners and images that deceptively appear to be download links.  That makes finding the correct link to click rather difficult, and clicking an incorrect link can have disastrous effects.

3) It can be malicious

Some advertising links don’t redirect you to content, but instead try to prompt you to download software or viruses.  Pair that with the fact that some links auto-click whenever you click anywhere on the page, or that some links (in my experience with mobile browsers) activate on a time delay, and you have a rather nasty problem.

I like to read comics online on my phone in the morning, and some sites are practically unusable on a mobile device because the advertising keeps attempting to force me to download an app.  An it’s immensely frustrating when you’re trying to read something, get pulled away from that due to reasons outside your actions, and then have someone trying to force you to download some app or mobile game or whatever.

But I’ve had similar issues with sites on my desktop computer, which is why I heavily use adblocking software.  It was frustrating to be browsing and click somewhere on a page to have a popup appear and try to infect your computer with a virus.

So what’s the solution to these issues?

Honestly, I’m not sure.  Sites use advertising for revenue which allows content creators to release work for free, as well as…y’know, eat and pay rent and all that good stuff.  Using adblockers keeps end users like myself safer, but at the cost of taking money away from the content creators (or curators in some cases).

But in a heavily capitalist society like America (which is where I live), people often vote with their wallets.  If they’re willing to put up with ads like this, they’ll keep viewing them and supporting both the content creators as well as the advertising companies and whatever specific type of ad they’ve encountered.  If not, they use services to block ads on most sites, while whitelisting a few favorite sites.

And it’s very difficult to not suggest adblockers to people, because I think that the quality of advertising on the internet has a lot of room for growth.  Since money is one of the few things that will move advertising creators to change, bypassing or blocking their ads is a solution.  But I think it’s only a short-term one.  Because, in the end, that only ends up shooting content creators in the foot, and takes money out of their pockets.  Without strong revenue streams, people cannot provide content for free online (or anywhere, to be honest).

Which makes this just one more thing in our society that bears analysis and discussion, in my opinion.  A solution will probably not be quickly forthcoming, and it with require our engaged participation in the dialog.  Because otherwise we take a backseat to our interests, and let others make the decision for us.  And that is a recipe for trouble somewhere down the road.

So what do you think Internet?  What’s your take on online advertising, or advertising in general?

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