The future of cost-per-click is a massive worry for both advertisers and publishers in the online advertising world at the moment.
Have you ever deliberately clicked on an advert on your mobile device before? I didn't think so. There are two issues with mobile:
Firstly, if the content is small, you zoom in, meaning you can't see the adverts anyway. This means that there is effectively no 'above the fold' as there would be on your desk-top. Therefore, advertisers paying per impression are likely to be wasting their money.
Secondly, if you do optimize your site for mobile devices, and take the time to make your design responsive, including the ads, the chances are that people will still click on the ads by accident.
The advertising world are calling this 'fat-finger syndrome'. All these clicks and no resulting purchases on advertisers' sites mean that, again, they are wasting their money. The advertisers now want to pay the publishers less CPC and the problem has really made a difference to many web companies.
Some time ago, I was told that the big difference in online advertising would be that the user gets targeted, and not the content. To explain the difference: If I read a blog about Thailand, then contextual adverts would read the page and show me an advert about holidays to Thailand. This may or may not be relevant to me, depending on what my purpose was in reading the article.
More modern versions of advert targeting would see me reading the same article, but then look into my browsing history. This would tell them several things:
- I am a female
- I'm in my 30's
- Which country I live in
- That I've visited some retail sites and which products I clicked into
They would then know which adverts to show me, based on all these metrics. This is likely to be the future of advertising as re-marketing - for example, having those shoes you like pop up in every advert for the next 3 days reminding you how lovely they are is proven to be 85% more successful than content marketing.
The issue with adverts that rely on your history, is that many people feel this is an invasion of privacy. If this concerns you and you don't want it to happen, you can always change your settings in your browser, use Google incognito, or use Firefox and tell it to never trace you.
I personally feel that merging text ads into content and getting accidental clicks from users, is of no use to anyone. The users get irritated at the confusion, and ultimately, the advertisers don't see any return for their campaign, and are less likely to pay for low quality placements in future. I think adverts need to be clearly adverts, but adverts with quality. Who doesn't enjoy some of the adverts on TV? 45% of people report that they enjoy the ads more than the programme they are watching - so maybe a bit more thought has to be put into capturing the audience.
A personal favorite of mine is the info-mercial. In the US two years ago, I watched a 7-minute advert about Proactive. It showed the person's bad skin, their daily routine and how their skin improved. That to me was like a mini sales pitch - I bought some and haven't ever regretted watching that ad. It was helpful, informative and presented me a product I needed to solve a problem. I therefore think ads should be contextual and a great source of information. Online, this could be a sponsored article, and video is showing huge growth at the moment.
Either way, this is definitely an issue that needs to be resolved. Less and less content is being provided online for free. Much is now hidden behind a pay-wall, as in the case of The Times. Also, many articles are plagiarised, regurgitated, or thrown together with some keyword stuffing, by a content house.
Google surveyed users and asked if they would rather
- Pay a subscription for content?
- Click on an advert/complete a survey?
Overwhelmingly, people voted for number 2. However, what people say, and what they do, are different. If you hate ads and block them, chances are that the content online, provided by a genuine site that gives you great, fresh content, just might not have the revenue to survive.
I don't have the definitive answer yet. As soon as I learn more, I will be sure to update this page.