Emotions are running high on the interwebs these days. No, not just because of the FBI vs. Apple and the backdoor encryption issue. Sure, that’s bad but it’s not in your face as much as good old online advertising.
The past decade has brought a barrage of advertising to the interwebs and some of it isn’t exactly pretty. Ads are huge, they move, they talk, and they’re taking up residence in your face. The user and reader backlash could have been predicted and perhaps avoided, but thanks to the effects of greed and competition, publishers and advertisers have to contend with a growing ad blocker problem.
How are they fighting back? And how is Apple helping them?
Word on the streets tells us Apple’s new News app for iPhone and iPad is getting a facelift which should improve both the user interface and the revenue stream for advertisers.
It’s not so much in your face advertising as it is embedded advertising. Embedded? Yes. Advertising that looks, feels, reads, smells like an article but it’s an ad, designed to blend in around and within content.
This is nothing new but it is becoming more commonplace. Here’s a good example. Yahoo! Check the Yahoo! Home page and scroll through the headlines and summaries (don’t make a judgement on what constitutes ‘news’ these days; that’s another issue). What you will see is headline after headline of link bait articles with little substance and less value, but interspersed among the so-called articles headlines are sponsored advertisements.
If you look closely you might see the Sponsored tag, usually in a gray color barely visible, but it’s there, However, the advertising headline matches nearby content article headlines so it’s easy to get sucked into an ad unless you read the fine print. Fine print? The word Sponsored isn’t exactly glaring at you is it?
Again, this technique to obscure the ads presence and allow advertising to take up residence within actual content is nothing new. Newspapers and magazines have done the same thing since forever. Television and radio are similarly guilty and often treat infomercials as content, or embed ads within radio talk shows as if part of the entertainment or information.
Why are publishers and Apple doing this?
Publisher are hurting for revenue and profits are nearly non-existent thanks to the Internet and the disruption that has occurred to content makers, online publishers, and traditional media in the past few decades.
Apple may be tossing a bone to major publishers but something has to be done to keep them in business. Advertising is what greases the wheels of information and entertainment creators and despite the rapid growth of online advertising expenditures since the Internet went public back in the mid-1990s, the pie is sliced much thinner these days.
Here’s the problem. It’s getting worse and will continue to get worse. Look around at a few of the major Apple oriented websites and you’ll see webpages stuffed with advertising, both blatant and subtle, but even worse there’s a growing trend of promotions in the form of product reviews and information. You can read about a product, click on a link to see more, and you’re being tracked online. If you buy, the publisher, as an affiliate of the manufacturer or distributor, gets a cut of what you pay.
Again, this isn’t new, but it’s growing and becoming more prevalent if less obvious. When will it end? It won’t. This is the clutter and fragmentation that the Internet itself– along with advertisers and publshers– have wrought. The future is here.