Those Ads Taking Over Your Website Are Ugly and Offensive to Readers


Dear Internet,

Can someone point me in the direction of the study which conclusively proves that the more imposing, oppressive, tiled and hideous an online advertisement is, the more likely a reader is to click it? Because otherwise, creative really needs to buckle down and help us all out before the entire Internet looks like a pornography site circa the year 2000.

Are we all just so dumb and desensitized that huge fonts and videos that play automatically are the key to getting our attention? Not that the Internet is exactly a haven for beauty or subtlety, but must we be force-fed a Double Down every time we download an mp3?

This is the kind of thing I’m talking about:

[Note: These are sites that I enjoy very much and read every day. (Some I contribute to!) This has nothing to do with the editorial product, or even site design. I’m simply wondering about the style and effectiveness of these egregiously ugly advertisements.]

Sure, I could turn on some sort of advertising blocker, but I would like to see the site as most of the world does, and maybe even click on something if it looks enticing, so as to do my part to help everyone involved. But it’s like an assault on my eyes every time I read the Internet — aka all day, every day. Can we do better than this? Are aesthetics just an afterthought or is this what works? I’m genuinely asking.

And please (to my bosses especially!) know that I’m not purposefully or blindly biting the hand that feeds. I realize that like all other online cretins, I’m only as good as my latest pageviews. CPM, reader demographics, uniques — I get it, I get it. But I’m wondering in earnest if this is the best way to go about it. Sure, if a company offers to give you money to fill the blank space on your site, you pretty much take it no matter what. But why not work together to make something that looks good? Maybe more people would click and your website would look less like a Nascar vehicle.

One would assume that the bigger the ad, the more it costs, but at a certain point it’s too much:

Or it can create unfortunate juxtaposition:

And sometimes, it’s hard to know it’s even an ad at all! Take, for instance, this site takeover ad on Time‘s site. Though it looks like a hack or malfunction, it’s actually something Acura paid for:

!!! ??? It’s nonsense. ??? !!!

Let’s talk through this and figure something else out, eh? Someday maybe we’ll look back on all of it and laugh, like with Geocities or Lycos. But in the meantime, we should try to stop the bleeding. From our eyes.

Just Online Everyday