Advertising has always had a role to play in funding media. But for online media, the impact of advertising has exploded, turning into what many publishers would call a necessary evil – and what is often a total annoyance for audiences, as shown in the strong uptake of ad-blocker software.
But more than just annoying your audience, could advertising actually be turning them away?
Here are just five of the ways ads can prevent you from growing a bigger audience:
Competing for your audience’s attention
Advertising is designed with one thing in mind: to entice audiences. As the publisher, this means directly competing with you for your audience’s attention. Anyone who clicks on an ad, or stops listening to a podcast to go look up whatever company they just heard an ad for, is thereby driven away from your precious work. – And that’s hardly a good way to grow your audience.
Increased loading times
Did you know that advertising increases your site’s loading time, sometimes by more than 50 percent? Research shows that 53 percent of mobile visitors will leave if a page doesn’t load in 3 seconds – and this is often well before all the ads have loaded, leaving your content for dust.
Reduced editorial control and messy aesthetics
When it comes to online advertising, you have little choice over what is displayed around the edges of your publication, leaving you to fight for space with loud, compromising or unflattering advertisements.
As well as reducing your editorial control, ads take up a lot of space – whether on banners that run around the edges of your website, or in the precious seconds they take from your listeners and viewers.
Ads are often bright and garish in an attempt to steal attention, conflicting completely with your carefully curated theme and distracting your audience from your content. And pop up ads threaten to irritate website visitors to the point of them abandoning your page entirely.
Native advertising – ads that are made to look like the publication’s own editorial content – can offer a little more editorial control and minimize the impact on your aesthetic impact. But these can also come across as misleading or deceitful to increasingly savvy audiences who understand that you have relinquished editorial independence, reducing their trust in you and your work.
Tracking and privacy issues
As consumers become more aware of how their data is being used and sold, they’re also becoming more suspicious of advertising: how advertisers track them and what happens to their data.
Audiences have so many choices about where to spend their time online. Seeing that you allow advertising on your site can reduce your credibility and your audience’s willingness to spend time with your content.
Minimizing reader-to-earning ratio
When companies purchase advertising space, they pay a whole lot more than what you, the publisher, end up with. Tech giants like Google can help you sell ads, but they take a large cut of your advertising revenue and enjoy almost total control over the whole process.
One way around this can be to develop more personal, direct relationships with ad clients. But for small independent publishers, this often isn’t possible, as it takes so many resources away from producing the content itself.
A happy alternative
Still hoping for a way to fund your work, but one that doesn’t leave you compromised? Memberships offer a sustainable income and the chance to build deeper relationships with the people who really care about your work – your audience. Memberships can work in combination with advertising, too. Find out more.