Disrespecting users with advertising

12 02 2010

On Justin.tv, and countless other sites, there is advertising. This is nothing new. Since almost the beginning of the web’s use by the common public, advertising has had a presence and has faithfully generated revenue for those sites so that they can stay up. This has created something of a meritocracy, where the sites with more traffic earn for money.

However, there is a phenomenon that has reared its ugly head and that is offering for-pay, premium accounts that lack advertising. Initially, I simply justified this as the site’s owners getting their income from another source, the user, rather than another organization buying space. On a recent episode of MacBreak Weekly, Merlin Mann stated that he felt paid, advertising free accounts were an abuse of the users and the advertisers. This was such a revelation to me that I felt it was worthy of a blog post.

Essentially, a site with advertising regards ads as a nuisance and a means to get money out of their regular users. They therefore are deliberately trying to annoy their users in order to elicit money from them. This has the added effect of treating advertisers as not partners, but tools for creating annoying, useless content. It also makes users despise ads and click through them, rather than pay attention to them.

Justin.tv does this and it is an abhorrent web design practice. It disrespects users and advertisers who choose to support the site in question. Any site that charges users money to make ads go away deserves neither money nor users. Speak up about this practice to any site admin that does this.

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2 responses

18 02 2010
MeCaudle

Have you been to deviantaART? They basically practice the same thing you mention but do it in a way to make unsubscribers feel like utter trash. Not only do you have to deal with advertising with a free account but they basically limit your ability to use certain features on the site…which when you look at it aren’t worth the prices they offer. One of the biggest debater the site has had is over whether or not free uses should be able to use the critiquing system, a system that allows for people to give more detailed reasons as to what they think about the art that you have submitted. Making this a subscriber-only feature is basically a slap in the face for their ‘community’ stand point as unless you are a subscriber you can not participate in this feature, thus your work is often looked over because people have their heads too far up their butts to critique WITHOUT using the brand-new ‘awesome’ feature.

22 02 2010
patrick42h

I haven’t been to to deviantART in a while. I just checked it out. Maybe I am just so numb to banner and column ads that I didn’t know they were there until I started looking for them.

It is amazing that they would treat their community worse than their users. Comments and ratings are not a user-focused feature. They are a community-focused feature. If your social site does not have a loyal community surrounding it, it is pretty much useless for the few who do use it.

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