Let’s admit it. Ads are annoying. How many of us like to be interrupted by ads while enjoying our favourite content (either on TV, radio or on the web)?
The average editor or content producer may argue this and that’s fine, especially online content producers. I understand the idea of supporting a phenomenon that pays your bills, monthly. Perhaps, how long this continues to keep the lights should be the major concern.
Unlike TV ads, online adverts are easier to block. Modern browsers and add-ons are beginning to add the option for users to block ads or even entire images while surfing the web. One of such is Adblock Plus which is a browser extension that allows users block ads. The future is not so far away, where these features would have become mainstream. The future of the web will continue to place more power and control in the hands of the users, not the producers. A critical part of control will be the ability to determine what we see as users per time.
This makes sense for the users for many reasons. They cut distraction and ensure they focus on the exact content they want to read. Asides that they also consume less data (text only view means less data). Other people have other reasons such as privacy issues and the likes.
Content producers on the other hands are beginning to feel hard done by the fact that users are blocking the ads that’s keeping the lights on for them. That’s how exactly how Martin Bryant (Editor-in-Chief of The Next Web) feels in this article on TheNextWeb. Fair enough, considering that ad revenues form a critical percentage of total revenues of most websites.
Admittedly, online content is difficult to monetize beyond banner placements. That notwithstanding, I believe this generation will figure out more innovative ways of monetizing content only if we shift paradigm and start preparing consciously for the future of the web we’re going to server our content on. That includes both web and mobile. While others complain about stingy online readers, smart startups are beginning to experiment with some of these innovative ways. For instance, Disqus’s story suggestion feature allows advertisers promote their content (usually articles) and appears as suggested readings for readers while also sharing revenue with the publishers (i.e. site owners). A badass win-win situation for the three parties. Models like this and smarter and more innovative ones are what will dominate the future of the web.
It’s 2015. It’s too late to start having debates on whether online banners are here too stay or not. Believe it or not, content monetization will take a different shape in the near future. A radically different shape.