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ACM Queue adverts - how not to do it

I've commented on Gregory Wilson's article on extensible programming before - it's a great read.

So I find out that it's up on ACM Queue, and stopped reading after page 2. Why? Well I got distracted enough by the advert inserted into the middle of the page, I gave up reading. ACM Queue is about the only arm of the ACM I find relevant any more, the content is usually good, but this isn't helping any. The ads are even pasted into the print-friendly version.

This is not how to do online advertising. The danger of the approach here is people will do one or more of the following:

  • Give up - it's too much work to read around the ads
  • Sense that ad revenue matters more than my comfort
  • Sense that ad revenue matters more than content
  • Worst case - unconsciously associate the ad vendor and Gregory Wilson with being annoyed

I'm sure the folks at ACM Queue don't intend for any of the above; they care enough to create quality content after all, but the psychology of association is quite powerful.

Other publications manage to get around this - for example ITWorld and O'Reilly allow large ads to jut into articles, but the text is always allowed to flow around the ad - intrusive but much better, because my eye is give a path to follow by the page flow. In Queue the text is amputated by the ad.

If there's an analogy to the level of intrusion and annoyance on television it's the kind of adverts your see painted onto or super-imposed onto the pitch for Rugby Internationals. What's bad about those? Isn't it clever they way they can get the ads to cue visually and stand off the pitch dimension and apear flat on the screen? We'll the problem is the illusion of the ad being put into the dimension of the screen rather than the game is dissonant and potentially irritating. It leaves more work for the brain to do to swap back and forth between the ad and pitch. It's not unlike trying to watch a game through a Necker cube. The ad may well be impossible to ignore, but at the risk of negative association.

Although I know there are some bloggers who worry about this a lot, ads interpersed with content are fine by me - done right. We buy a lot of stuff, anf I suspect that - done right - ad/content mixins could be as valauble as Amazon reviews. The thing to do is make sure the content can be absorbed with minimum inconvenience. Putting an ad out to the side of article where page flow is maintained is fine, putting a brand on a rugby jersey is fine - they're probably all the more more effective because I'm not going to unconsciously associate them with anything negative or irritating.

[update: some folks were kind enough in comments to point out that Adblock stops the ad in question appering.]

February 12, 2005 12:11 PM


occasional reader
(February 12, 2005 02:49 PM #)

maybe you want to try firefox + adblock.
but you're right it would be better if there is no need for adblock.

(February 12, 2005 05:33 PM #)

I know this doesn't address your greater point, but FWIW, the Adblock extension kills this specific ad. I don't see it at all.

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