Advertising is content

In this recent post on Techdirt, Mike Masnick makes several good points about the relationship between content and advertising, concluding that advertising is content and should be treated with the same seriousness. Of course, this can be difficult in a commercial environment where the ad sales team often have the final say because they ‘bring in the revenue’. Incidentally, I’ve never fully understood this argument- after all, isn’t it the quality of the editorial that brings people to the site and allows the sales team to sell the space?

Anyway, the reality is that bad, intrusive advertising drives traffic away, and though individual sales people may make their monthly targets, it’s important to look at things over the long term, to work with potential advertisers to create more intelligent and engaging campaigns.

And the same principles apply to those running personal sites. I understand that people want to make money from their sites, however, short term, intrusive solutions are not the best way to do so.

I’m thinking in particular of those javascript ming bombs, err, sorry, contextual adverts from┬áKontera, Adshots and Snapshots, etc. Those little windows that appear over links that have been added to seemingly random words on a page.

They stink. Not only do they add large javascript files to every page (in the case of Kontera at least), but they are horribly intrusive and almost entirely irrelevant – serving me ads to US garden centres and the like.

I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole so I can’t talk conclusively about conversion rates and what have you, however, I suspect that much of the traffic they get is from people clicking on the window in an attempt to close it or out of initial curiosity having never seen them before.

Of course, as a site owner you might not be too worried about that, but you should be. As far as I’m concerned they’re the digital equivalent of love bites. Cheap, tacky and a sure sign that I probably won’t be interested in what the site owner has to say.

Which brings me to the one piece of advertising on this page. The little Orange animal balloon on the bottom left of the page. O.K., so I know it affects the page load. And I’ve never liked or understood the Orange animal campaign. But, it’s beautifully designed and I like the way it bobs up and down a bit. It complements the page. And they promised to send me some traffic. This is advertising as content.

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