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Don’t Pollute Your Web Site with Advertising

Before I ruffle too many feathers, let me start with a brief disclaimer.  What follows is specifically directed to people with web sites that don’t generate their primary means of revenue from advertising.  News web sites are a prime example of web sites that use on page advertising as a primary revenue stream. They publish content to attract visitors and pay for expenses with their advertising revenue.

Advertising Pollution
Advertising_Pollution A few years ago I was introduced to a unique term: advertising pollution.  If you want to see or hear advertising pollution just turn on the radio, watch TV, open a newspaper, or get online.  We’re so inundated with advertising that it’s easy to get lost in the almost useless myriad of marketing.  When I was doing extensive usability testing on web sites one of the biggest user red flags was confusing on site advertising.  Test users would ask, “What does this (banner or ad) have to do with this web site/company?”  The test users were frustrated by the advertising. The consensus was, if it doesn’t specifically support the company don’t have advertising on an informational site. High quality information first, everything else should be a very distant second.

Don’t Pollute Your Site
Too many web sites run advertising just to run advertising.  I’m willing to bet if you look at their web stats they probably don’t get enough traffic to generate any decent advertising revenue.  If you have an event web site or a business web, don’t cloud the user’s search for information with advertising pollution.  Visitors come to your web site for information about your event or your business. It’s in your best interest to focus on your user’s needs.

Internal Advertising
There are some rare exceptions to the recommendation.  I am a proponent of internal advertising on web sites. If you have a product or service that can truly help someone, then you owe it to your potential customer and yourself to advertise on your web site. Wikipedia for all its faults is a pretty good example.  They have a donation banner on top to support their operation. To the best of my knowledge they haven’t sold out their page space to unrelated third parties to generate revenue. Ultimately the advertising has to truly help the user.

Make sure you put your information before any advertising on your web site.  You’ll have happier users and most likely make more money.

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