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Salon's new strategy: make the banner ads AS ANNOYING AS HUMANLY FUCKING POSSIBLE.
March 21, 2001 10:29 PM   Subscribe

Salon's new strategy: make the banner ads AS ANNOYING AS HUMANLY FUCKING POSSIBLE. Now it's either the subscription model or horrifying Flash ads that take up more column inches than the articles. Are they on crack, or merely dumb?
posted by solistrato (42 comments total)

 
It's nothing we haven't seen before: News.com's been doing it for months now. They look to be about the same size as the new Salon ads.

Although, when I went to the Salon link the second time, I got a popup ad. Now that's bad.
posted by pnevares at 10:39 PM on March 21, 2001


Popup ad: Same here. They might be tracking cookies so that they don't serve the same ad too often.

Personally, I can't stand the new ads. At all. When will it hit the point you have to click through the ads to see the article?
posted by Neale at 10:46 PM on March 21, 2001


Jakob says it's only a matter of time before people start ignoring the new banners too.

Does anyone else notice that Jakob's main claim to fame is simply stating the obvious? Does anyone not think people will learn to ignore 300x300 flash banners like they've visually filtered out 468x60 ones?
posted by mathowie at 10:47 PM on March 21, 2001


Someone has to come up with a metric for branding instead of click through - it's nonsensical.
posted by owillis at 10:50 PM on March 21, 2001


i dunno, i kinda like the new ads. for one thing, you can get information out of them without having to leave the page you're on. that, to me, is less intrusive.

i think people are being far too reactionary about this new format. we've put up with advertising of larger sizes in newspapers, magazines, and far worse on tv, for decades.
posted by titboy at 11:21 PM on March 21, 2001


> Does anyone else notice that Jakob's main claim to
> fame is simply stating the obvious?

Yes. But sometimes you have state the obvious to the oblivious.
posted by pracowity at 11:22 PM on March 21, 2001


Stating the obvious can make one a lot of money in a world where most people ignore the obvious. And the more I read of Jakob's stuff, the more I think he's got the right idea. Design for design's sake doesn't work for web sites that want to get maximum hits (such as most any commercial venture); it has to be usable. There's a reason Raygun magazine folded, and it wasn't the quality of the writing.

And my eyes have already subconsciously learned to ignore the new ads. Only banner ads of true creative brilliance will ever be successful, and we all know how little actual creative talent there is out there in agencyland.
posted by aaron at 11:32 PM on March 21, 2001



Jason Calacanis of SAR makes a powerful argument that something like WebWasher - which allows you to seamlessly kill this stuff is going to be breaking big sometime soon.
posted by artlung at 11:52 PM on March 21, 2001


Hell, I'm just considering uninstalling my flash plug-in for my regular browser. How much do you need flash everyday?

>i think people are being far too reactionary about this new format. we've put up with advertising of larger sizes >in newspapers, magazines, and far worse on tv, for decades.

Yeah, but we don't have to like it.
posted by Hackworth at 12:20 AM on March 22, 2001


In a few months you'll mind these ads about as much as you minded the traditional banners at the top of the page. They're ads, they're meant to be noticed. I'd rather deal with them than have to pay for internet content. I like being able to link directly to articles I fancy.
posted by captaincursor at 1:02 AM on March 22, 2001


I think users have been incredibly, incredibly spoiled by all of the free content out there (dwindling though it is by the weeks and days).

I personally find radio and television commercials far more intrusive, as well as being forced to cough up the bucks anytime I want to read "older" content at nytimes.com.

I think Salon should offer two site versions: a subscription version that is ad-free, and then a free version with ads so that users can pick their own poison. It would be very interesting to see how many thousands of users opted to pay just to avoid ads.
posted by pupper at 2:51 AM on March 22, 2001


Gosh, people still *read* Salon?
posted by methylsalicylate at 3:45 AM on March 22, 2001


Alas, the prophesy comes true.
posted by lagado at 4:18 AM on March 22, 2001


No free lunch but at the soup kitchen. And there someone else foots the bill.
posted by Postroad at 5:01 AM on March 22, 2001


Owillis - Zeldman suggested at SXSW, sites get sponsors, like PBS, for for funding rather than ads to which nobody pays attention. You may have HBO sponsoring the entertainment section in Salon for example.
posted by vanderwal at 5:19 AM on March 22, 2001


ding still reads salon.
posted by ding at 5:22 AM on March 22, 2001


Matt - I think that Jakob is largely correct. But, why? The adds on websites are unimaginative, the slowdown in ad buying has limited those willing to pay, therefore limiting the variety of ads. Ads on the web are not really targeted at least as much as in print and television. Also, the Web provides far better metric than print for understanding how people interact with ads.

Should the print world be able to tell how little attention their ads in magazines and newspapers were getting, we would be talking about them too. Personally I think the ad world in general is on shaky ground and the Web is a test lab that easily shows how little attention people pay to ads.

Conversely, if an ad is good people will flock to Ad Critic to watch it.

This leaves us with the ad firms not performing for their clients. Ads would not be annoying if it was something we, personally, were interested in and if we found them entertaining. Poorly placed dull ads have sunk the use of ads on the web (and in print, radio, and TV too). The ad world does not seem to understand it is all about the user.
posted by vanderwal at 5:36 AM on March 22, 2001


vanderwal: sponsorship deals -- like Plastic, you mean? (Which is Up Shit Creek, if my sources are correct.)

Anyway, AdSubtract just updated its free version to block these enormo-ads. Recommended, if you don't want the rigmarole of installing Junkbuster.
posted by holgate at 5:59 AM on March 22, 2001


The WashPost has a take on this today.
posted by vanderwal at 6:09 AM on March 22, 2001


people have been talking about sponsorhip for a long time and it's something that developers seem to think is a good idea yet haven't, for any number of reasons, been able to sell. sponsorships has implications of something far less "in your face" than the large tuna they're attempting to hit us over the head with at the moment. if we've managed to ignore the banner ads so successfully, won't it be as easy to overlook sponsorship?
posted by heather at 6:13 AM on March 22, 2001


I really like webwasher, I have found it through another comment and installed it. It's marvelous, I don't know how I've put up with it so long, no more banner ads at all, not even the large cnet ones. GREAT.
posted by tiaka at 6:28 AM on March 22, 2001


For everyone who is complaining about the big ads and subscription fees - what do you suggest content sites do to earn $ and stay in business? (This is not an attack, I'm really asking.)
posted by quirked at 6:42 AM on March 22, 2001


They're trying to make a buck, like everyone else. I'm not offended, not even bothered, and I'm hypersensitive to obtrusive ads. When Salon starts using pop-up ads that open in a new window, then I'll remove Salon from my reading cycle every day, but till then it's just another ad.
posted by swanson at 6:44 AM on March 22, 2001


When will it hit the point you have to click through the ads to see the article?

Kinda like on TV how you have to click the FF button through the commercials? You'll get over it.

When Salon starts using pop-up ads that open in a new window, then I'll remove Salon from my reading cycle every day

They already do, in my experience, every once in a while.

Personally, the huge flash ads are kind of hard to ignore thus far. They've stopped me from reading News.com anymore (not that I miss it, anyway). The best solution to this problem is to just click right on through to the print versions. Someone had a text-only version with links straight to the print version didn't they? Where's that link?
posted by daveadams at 7:04 AM on March 22, 2001


My problem is not with Salon trying to make a buck. I wish them well in trying to find new and exciting ways to scam money - I mean, increase revenues.

What jarred me was the complete lack of design that the placement of the ad showed. After spending years trying to get a uniform design and user experience, they plop this monstrosity of a Flash movie in the middle of their column, completely disrupting the flow of the text.

Blech. Blech blech blech.
posted by solistrato at 7:26 AM on March 22, 2001


I always thought Treeloot.com had an interesting way of getting your attention: making it so their banner eats up most of your system resources. Can't help but notice it then.
posted by chesuta at 7:31 AM on March 22, 2001


quirked: I've been thinking about "voluntary subscriptions" where you say 5% of the visitors have to contribute an average of $7, in order for things to continue. Not exactly panhandling, but not having obnoxious ads...
posted by owillis at 7:53 AM on March 22, 2001


Usually newspapers are the last folks to catch up with the latest Web trends, but check out this big, honkin' ad (a house ad, no less) from the Billings, Mont., Gazette. Yikes!
posted by thescoop at 8:18 AM on March 22, 2001


Whenever I go to a place like Salon (infrequently - LOL) I use the Opera browser and turn off image loading so only the text comes in. It's FAST (not necessarily pretty, but functional) and I don't even know what I'm missing! *grin* And Opera doesn't "do" popups - they just open another window that doesn't overlap the one you're currently reading. I wonder if that qualifies as a 'view' to the sites who sponsor the ad? Hmm.
posted by thunder at 8:35 AM on March 22, 2001


For everyone who is complaining about the big ads and subscription fees - what do you suggest content sites do to earn $ and stay in business? (This is not an attack, I'm really asking.)

I think that's the big problem everyone is working with here. How can you run a site and make at least enough to maintain that site?

It seems that a lot of these big business guys that got on the web assumed there was Big Money to be had and now they're doing everything they can to try to squeeze that out of us (the users, the eyeballs, etc.). With the exception of e-commerce sites, I don't think a site can make Big Money. I don't think most of us are here to buy things, we're here to learn and connect and discover (excuse me for the Utopian visions). I know that I, for the most part, am not here to learn about new products, connect my wallet to a corporation, or discover new ways to blow my money (except for the occasional new gadget...I can't resist). The Web runs contrary to Big Money, it think. Am I just fooling myself?

What will we have to do to keep our favorite sites running without having to pay for everything?

I am not opposed to paying for some content, but I can't afford to pay for everything (I look at a lot of sites!).
posted by csovine at 8:37 AM on March 22, 2001


> For everyone who is complaining about the big ads and
> subscription fees - what do you suggest content sites do
> to earn $ and stay in business? (This is not an attack,
> I'm really asking.)

They should go out of business. There's never been any shortage of content on the net -- either the pre-ad www or the pre-www internet (free Usenet message boards, free ftp archives, Gutenberg free etexts, etc. etc.) or fidonet or local BBSs or any other flavor of network I've ever tasted -- all of it put up for your viewing/downloading pleasure by people who are satisfied to be "paid" for their effort by the fun of participating in and acquiring prestige in a community of online folks of similar interests who are qualified to judge them. I remember a note from the programmer in a readme file accompanying some piece of free software: "Don't want money. Got money. Want admiration."

Commercial www content providers are basically trying to sell sand at the beach. Boneheads. The only thing it's reasonable to charge for is the basic connection; i.e. the ISP business model makes sense. 99.9999% of the others are scams or wishful thinking, and they can't dry up and blow away fast enough to suit me. (But they should try anyway...)
posted by jfuller at 8:46 AM on March 22, 2001


"Don't want money. Got money. Want admiration." That's great, except what if you don't "Got money?"

I work for a small, family-owned newspaper group. This is not big business thinking we should be making big money. There are some legitimate content providers out there trying to get by with real people just trying to make a living. We offer unique content (local news) and do it with a very small department. One day the "paper" newspaper will be gone and either we figure out how to make some money in the electronic version, we won't be here and there will be no local news. But hey, I guess no one cares unless it is their job.
posted by quirked at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2001


When I first got online, about six years ago, I had believed that the Internet was the beginning of the greatest communications tool ever built. I saw it as the beginning of the 21st century library of Alexandria; the facts, thoughts, and opinions of the world at your beck and call 24/7.

I've spent time in usenet; and the very next time I need to ask somebody's opinion about growing begonias, what they think Xena will do with Gabriele, find out what the people's favorite Steely Dan album is, or wax the pole to a half kazillion nekkid pitchers, I know where I'll go back to.

I've spent time at SUNET archives. BBSes as well. Extremely valuable for old game cheat codes, and scanned pictures of Wonder Woman. I don't think I'll be expecting much from that area about current events. They pretty much belong with the people who still play with citizen-band radios.

There are MANY MANY Independent content sites out here that are useful and insightful. There are also ten billion of them that are focused on 'My Pet Hamster', 'The Bay City Rollers Fan Club', 'My Family Photographs', etc.

Commercial content sites provide current, updated content on a regular basis, creating an anchor in most surfer's daily trek. In a way, I would not mind at all seeing every commercial site grow a backbone overnight, and go subscription. No more CNN.com. No More Weather.com. Hell, no more Yahoo.com, either, since they rely on ads. Eight-tenths of the sites listed here in metafilter locked out unless people decide to pony up some cash. I'd love it.

Do you suppose people would then get all boo-hooey about how they can't afford to surf the net... while they watch their cable TV? Would the ranks of noble homebodies spill foward to re-key the daily news and weather onto free sites every couple of hours, so they can be admired? And who would feed these outlaw pioneers?

Fact is, folks, one way or another, we will pay, we will accept ads just like in magazines, newspapers, radio and TV, or we will lose. On the bright side, I think 'Moby Dick' has been transcribed to the Gutenberg. That should make up for the hole, I guess. ~SIGH~
posted by Perigee at 10:01 AM on March 22, 2001


i hate when people say 'anyone can write.' because most people, well, can't.
posted by maura at 10:17 AM on March 22, 2001


I'm with vanderwal who said:

The ads on websites are unimaginative

I think this is key. I want my content to remain free(naturally) so the sites will probably need advertising. Those large flash ads on Salon are pretty attractive at the moment and I don't mind them so much. At least it's not the goddamn "punch the monkey"!

I do hate pop-ups, though. They slow me down and make my user experience pretty unpleasant.
posted by amanda at 10:20 AM on March 22, 2001


i hate when people say 'anyone can write.' because most people, well, can't.

Oh yeah. Most people can type, is what people really mean when they say that.
posted by kindall at 10:34 AM on March 22, 2001


> i hate when people say 'anyone can write.' because most
> people, well, can't.

Not that much new here...

What phrenzy hath of late possessed the brain!
though few can write, yet fewer can refrain.


- Samuel Garth, 1661-1719
posted by jfuller at 11:10 AM on March 22, 2001


jfuller: >They should go out of business.

If you think the sites should go out of business, then don't visit them! The net effect would be the same, wouldn't it?
posted by lacal at 11:34 AM on March 22, 2001


Anyone else notice that at 2:30pm ET Thursday SALN is down 30%?
posted by kokogiak at 11:36 AM on March 22, 2001


> If you think the sites should go out of business, then
> don't visit them! The net effect would be the same,
> wouldn't it?

The question (which I quoted) was "what can content sites do to stay in business?" My answer is "There isn't anything they can do. The best business decision they can make is to cut their losses instead of prolonging the agony." This remains the correct answer to the question whether I visit any sites or not. The web is a great give-away but it doesn't sell.
posted by jfuller at 1:57 PM on March 22, 2001


kokogiak, 34 cents a share pretty much says it all. Maybe the editor-in-chief can take his $226,000 salary and do a half million share buyback. As Charles Mackay wrote about another bubble: "[the schemes resulted in] the impoverishment of many a fool, and the enriching of many a rogue."
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 3:08 PM on March 22, 2001


Simple.

To run flash, my browser (IE5.5) has to ask me unless the site is put into the trusted category. Salon.com is not one of them, so every time it wants to show flash I press esc and there is no flash loaded. Of course, if a trusted site does something like that on me, it will be in the "Restricted" zone in a blink of an eye...

So Salon will really have to fuck off on this one...
posted by azazello at 5:27 PM on March 22, 2001


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