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The problem with adverts on the internet and how we can fix them

News broke this week that Google, a member of the Coalition for Better Ads, will start blocking adverts that do not fall under this guidance. Which is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to combat adverts on the internet, especially when they are through apps and games on handheld devices.

There are also issues with online media outlets, like newspapers and magazines where adverts are becoming a major revenue stream.

Where did internet advertising go wrong?

I think adverts are great when they are used correctly and sometimes they are a necessary evil which leads to the eventual conversion of viewers. However, I think digital content creators, businesses, newspapers, and digital magazines have been given too much free reign when it comes to advertising and this is where it all started to go wrong.

Free reign is a good thing but with the lack of supervision, I think advertisers have been allowed to head down a rabbit hole to more intrusive, in-your-face advertising that doesn’t help anything.  This type of advertising, I think actually makes things a lot worse for consumers and for the site owners.

Bad adverts force users hand into thinking twice about using a website and a loss of users means less ad revenue. So it is in the interest of everyone to have good adverts.

What adverts are the worst for user experience?

Auto-Playing videos are the worst. Especially full-screen ones, I find a lot of the worst offenders are app developers looking to make a quick few quid from the audience. More often than not, I have been disturbed during the middle of an experience by a full screen, automatically playing a video which you are unable to skip. Newspapers and Magazine websites are following not far behind.

Better Ads coalition examples of bad adverts on desktop.

These are followed closely by modal adverts, or the new fangled pop-up advert, on websites where you are requested to download an app or sign up for a newsletter. Not only is this bad design, it’s also bad for the users experience on your website and has forced me away from websites on numerous occasions.

News websites seem to be the worst offenders with these advert types and they don’t seem to care too much about how it could annoy visitors, they just seem worried about how many views they can get on the advert. Of course this is just my opinion, I’m happy to be shown otherwise but this is how it comes across.

Bad mobile adverts list, courtesy of the better ads coalition.

So how do we fix adverts?

Simple. We need to be thinking not just about advertisement spaces on websites a bit more clearer but we also need to think about what the adverts are going to show, how are adverts designed, what do they do when the user sees them and will they become an annoyance?

Thinking about advertisements in this way will make a better user experience but, might even increase the all-important click-through rate on embedded adverts.

We also need to think about the quality of advert that is coming out. Rather than intrusive advertising, it would be good to think about what the advert says, who the advert will be targeted at and what is most likely to make them click on an advert which lies at the side of a website.

With these steps we can improve the digital landscape and turn away from adblockers, which on some websites I have now started using because I am that annoyed at the types of adverts I see now.

I’ll end this here and turn over to you, for your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below.