Thursday, March 7, 2019

What Is The Leading Cause Of Death Of A Website?

I find myself limiting, more and more, the websites I visit and the publications to which I subscribe. This includes most national newspapers and magazines. I avoid their online sites largely because they have become so bloated with ads and video content that their pages take too long to load or are utterly impossible to load. More and more sites bury their otherwise good content among so many pop-up advertisements that readers are forced to piece the post or article back together one word at a time. I also avoid those sites which are inundated with videos that automatically play as soon as I arrive. I refuse to waste time trying to shut the videos down. I simply leave the site. I also leave sites where an article has been broken up across multiple pages, forcing me to keep clicking page after page. It's called click-bait content. Yuck. And finally, I avoid pages with those horizontal rows of photos at the bottom that carry over-sensationalized and misleading headlines. They're just more click-bait. I'm allergic to click-bait. 

While there's nothing out there statistically to show that ad bloat is the leading cause of death of websites today, I suspect it will one day be recognized as the leading cause.

I find sites that offer few or no ads more appealing. I bookmark those. I read their posts and articles. I revisit them. If they have a donate button or a sponsor button, and I have something to offer for the article I read, (usually a dollar or two) I'll send it their way. I prefer to patronize or subscribe to sites that don't waste my time, that slow my computer down, and that haven't, apparently, jumped into the deep end of the 'monetization' pool so as to put their visitor at risk of drowning in ad bloat.

On this blog, and others that I maintain, I will occasionally link to stores where I have purchased things, or to pages showing information on products that I like and buy. I make no money from those retailers or manufacturers if you visit their site. I am not an affiliate marketer.

I know that print publications, newspapers, magazines, etc, need some ads to help their revenue stream. They need print ads and they need online ads. But, they really should put their websites on an ad-restrictive diet and get rid of the bloat. It's unappealing.

I appreciate our local papers that run ads from local service businesses and retailers. I appreciate the fact they display books by local authors in their office for visitors to browse. I pay attention to what they print. I click links on their websites. The ads they run are for local products and services I use or that I am seeking more information about. I support their writers by reading the articles they write, and I read some online, and occasionally share a link via online messaging. In the non-virtual world, I buy their paper at the newsstand, through a mail subscription, or an online subscription. They are still content rich in comparison to the ads they carry. Nice balance.

Last year we reduced our print subscriptions by a couple of magazines. Why? Because the ads within them outweighed the content, by a wide margin. I recently received a renewal request from one of them. I pitched it in the trash. I'm paying to read articles, to look at photographs, and to learn something useful. I do not subscribe to print in order to read ads. I do not subscribe to online sites to read ads. If the publications we abandoned had an ad-free or ad-limited site, I might consider renewing that subscription. Unfortunately, they're far too deep in the monetization pool, and going down fast.

When I think about it, advertising has overtaken everything, television, radio. newsprint, magazines, and now the online environment. Because of that, I very rarely listen to the radio anymore. I very rarely watch television. I can avoid the ads in print publications by simply not looking at them. And, I can avoid the online ads by limiting what sites I visit.

It's sad it has to be that way. As an author, I should advertise my books, but I have found that having happy readers, who recommend them to their friends, is better than any online advertising I could secure. In a way I think it still is the best means. And, I am happy to point readers to the locations, online and in the non-virtual world, where they can acquire my books.

To that end, I maintain an informational website with links to my books on Amazon. It's a form of advertising, but oh so limited. I post an occasional link to that site, when I am out and about on the web. I hope others, if they like my books, will share information about them. That's it. When existing readers or potential readers visit my website, they will find it content rich and ad poor. As on this blog, I have drained the monetization pools on those sites. 

I may, eventually be adding a 'donate' or 'sponsor' button to my blog or websites, for those who wish to sponsor my writing. And, I might -- might -- someday add a static sponsor's list to my site(s). But, as for me, I have opted out of running banner ads, video ads, etc. I have also stopped buying ads for my books. I hope that makes my readers happy. That's the ultimate goal in writing anyway, to make my readers happy.

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