Destroying the User Experience With Ads

When I started The Resurgent, my hope had been to try a new ad experience. I offered up site sponsorships for a week. For one week, for $5000.00, yours was the only ad on the site. It would be a static jpeg placed in three locations. Two square ads would appear on the front page. A rectangular masthead ad would appear at the top of each story. And a square would appear at the bottom of each story. The site loaded quickly, the sponsors were happy, and the users had a great reading experience.

For the first seven months of the site it worked great. But having been a vocal opponent of Donald Trump’s, his supporters started harassing anyone who sponsored the site and pretty soon I had no sponsors left. So I had to switch back to ad blocks using Google scripts. It has been a terrible experience and one might think Google, with all its soaring rhetoric about improving the internet, would help deal with the problem.

A case in point is the ads that try to redirect you to the app store. We have been plagued with those for the last few weeks and it has had an impact on our traffic.

The ad tries to tell an iPhone user he has won a gift card or it tries to direct him to the app store to download a game.

Each time these come up, I go into AdSense and block the URL that displays, but often it is a user other than me. They just get mad and go elsewhere.

If they try to hit the back button, it just repopulates again. There is no way out except clicking “Done” and backing out altogether.

Often, the user tries to click the link again thinking it was a fluke, but it happens again. There is no escape.

Sometimes the ad does not force one out to the app store or display a pop up. Rather it takes you to a new webpage. There is no pop up window, but a whole new site and trying to back out of that leads to the same result. You cannot get out without closing the window.

I have had this experience happen to me on numerous websites in the past month from major publications to smaller sites. It is some small measure of comfort that my site is not alone in having this problem.

The screenshot above is from a friend who was trying to read The Resurgent through Twitter. The one below is from my wife’s phone trying to get to The Resurgent directly through Safari.

Certainly ad blockers are one way around this, but most people are not technically minded and do not know about them. As a publisher, I feel obligated to go through and try to block any domain that does this. Over time I would like to think I could weed them out. But it depends on people sending me the URL to block in Google’s AdSense.

It sure seems Google could do a better job on its end too. It has a near monopoly on ad services for small websites. It is choosing which ads to populate on the website.

I would love to run The Resurgent with a sponsorship model using static jpeg files. I do not know that it is feasible to go back to that. But over the last month the ad experience has degraded the usability of the site and for that I apologize. We stripped out all the ad code three weeks ago, which naturally took revenue to zero. We have added it back slowly trying to avoid this problem. But the ads have come back with a vengeance.

I am certainly happy to take suggestions on different ad services or even methods of advertising other than Google. This is just wholly unacceptable for readers of my site and the other sites affected by it.