The problem with ads, and how to do better

Ads, we all know them, we all hate them. They can be extremely meaningless, and extremely annoying. Everyone seemingly agrees on this, but why do ads still exist then?

In today’s day and age, everyone expects everything to be basically free. Free apps, free software, free movies, free information and even free education. Because of this desire for free content, content creators and app developers have to make their content free to get people interested in it. Since they aren’t able to sell their product, and instead have to give it away for free, there have to be found other ways to get paid for the hard work. And the most common solution to this problem is showing ads. It’s not a good solution, neither a user friendly solution, but there doesn’t seem to be a good alternative either.

But of course, there’s a solution for every problem, and to most people the solution for those annoying ads is called Adblocker. Ads don’t get shown, problem solved, you may think. But that’s actually not the real truth, when ads don’t get shown, the creator loses his money. As a result, he may decide to stop investing time and resources in his product. The product that you love, you won’t be able to use it anymore. It’s like buying a bread without paying for it, and expecting to get another bread next time when you stop by the bakery shop.

In the real world, this is unacceptable, but on the internet it seems pretty normal.

I just compared Adblock with stealing a bread, but actually it’s not completely that way either. The problem is that developers on one side, and the users on the other side don’t completely understand each other. There has to be a way of showing ads that are useful to the creator and the user, instead of serving a page filled with ugly ads.

Here are a few ideas on how you might implement advertising that’s worthwhile. This list is not limited to the ideas I mention though, keep your creativity flowing!

  • Implement interactive advertising.
  • Well designed ads on the background. TheNextWeb does this.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 21.48.03

  • Let users pay a small fee if they want to disable ads. This is used frequently in app development.
  • Ask users to disable Adblock and explain why.
  • Show relevant ads from trusted advertisers.
  • Be transparent, don’t try to show off ads as real content.
  • Make sure that your app or webpage is not cluttered with ads.
  • Create a free ad-supported version, as well as a more advanced paid version of your product.
  • When working with video ads, don’t autoplay sound.
  • Add subtle animations or nice but simple drawings to get the attention of your visitors. Don’t overdo it.
  • Offer visitors something in return from the advertiser, like a coupon.


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