Who’s the most important person or organization involved with your website?
a. You, the person or organization behind the website
b. The person who builds your website
c. The advertisers who advertise on your website
d. None of these
If you answered d. None of these – you are correct.
The most important stakeholder for your website is the reader, also often known as the customer. Therefore, the most important thing your website should be doing is keeping your customers on your website, either consuming your content or buying your products. Unfortunately, websites in the late 2010s have morphed into a landing page for serving invasive advertisements or for launching readers into a social media platform. This is the first in a series of articles that will explore ideas surrounding development of better alternatives for readers and content creators.
Killing the Golden Goose
Readers have grown weary with the constant barrage of full-screen advertisements, particularly on smartphones and tablets. My wife was recently browsing a local television station’s local news website for an update on a story that had caught her interest. The news site loaded partially before launching an ad that involuntarily took her away from the news site with no option of going back to the article. The only options were to tap on the ad or close the browser tab. She closed the browser tab and now takes in news through other avenues. The local television station lost a guaranteed website reader and a potential set of eyes on the channel itself. Instead of gaining a potential customer, the customer has fled for good.
Pay rates for ad clicks are hilariously low, usually just a few cents per click. The idea is to get millions and millions of clicks on ads to generate significant revenue. The problem is that most readers aren’t looking to click on advertisements – they’re looking to consume some content that has been provided. The reader has an interest in an article or product provided by the supplier, but the supplier is looking to make some extra revenue to help cover the costs of doing business. This is not an indictment of businesses trying to make money. If a business doesn’t make money, it’s unsustainable and will go out of business. But apparently the main goal for the online presence of many businesses is to trick readers into tapping or clicking on an advertisement with no regard to the consequences of such trickery. Many people react the same way my wife did and simply turn to another platform in hopes of finding information with far less invasion.
I hope the local television station doesn’t spend that four cents of ad revenue all in one place.
These full-screen ads that completely overtake devices have led angry web users to employ the services of ad-blocking software. This software blocks any advertisements that may appear on the reader’s screen which in turn has an adverse effect on ad revenues. Some sites have turned to limiting or even completely blocking content that is served to users of ad-blockers. Other sites have granted ad-free experiences to their readers in exchange for a monthly fee – sometimes as little as a couple of dollars per month. Still other sites have become even more aggressive in their advertising practices in an attempt to circumvent ad-blockers altogether, which punishes users who do not use ad-blockers.
This all seems so backwards. Why are content-makers insistent on beating ad-blockers? Why not study the reasons readers use ad-blockers in the first place? And then – more importantly – why not use that information to deliver a more reader-friendly website experience that accomplishes both the goals of the business and the wants of the readers?
At RömHead, we will deliver whatever the paying customer wants to serve to their clients; however, we will also strive to help content providers understand the importance of taking care of the most valuable stakeholder in a website – its readers.