How the Ad Recession Could Improve the Web

There’s an interesting quote buried near the end of the NYT’s article on the NYT:

Across the Internet, “we have a glut of unsold inventory every single day,” said Kelly Twohig, the digital activation director at Starcom, which buys media for clients like Kellogg’s and Nintendo. She said that could force major sites like to cut back the online ad space they offer, to keep prices up.

Absent editorial-side cutbacks, how does one reduce inventory? There’s one easy way, which all readers would embrace fervently: stop spreading stories over multiple pages.

In the early days of the web, in an attempt to goose pageviews, publishers started asking readers to click through two or three or sometimes even a dozen different pages to get through one story. It’s annoying and self-defeating, and I devoutly wish that a move to reduce inventory will kill off this miserable habit.

People read from one line to the next. If you can’t read the line above the line you’re reading, it feels odd, and you can lose track of the narrative. When you’re reading a book, it’s almost instantaneous to flip a page, but with a website, the time taken to click on the "next" link and wait for the page to reload is much longer. What’s more, all that finding the link and clicking takes you out of the narrative — and, of course, makes it much more likely that you’ll disappear off somewhere else entirely, just like newspaper readers generally fail to read beyond the jump.

The multiple-pages problem is so annoying, indeed, that many bloggers, including myself, make it a point to always link to a "single-page format" or "print version" of the article instead. That’s not always possible, however, and what’s more the print version often lacks important navigation, multimedia, and other hypertext components.

Most annoying, for a blogger, is when you’re quoting a bit of an article which is on, say, page three. Do you link to page three, or to page one? Neither is particularly pleasant.

Every time I go to a website like the NYT or The Big Money, the need to hunt around for the "single page" button and click on it and wait for the page to reload makes me hate the site just a tiny bit. For really gruesome offenders like Time, I simply don’t read a lot of their listicles, no matter how good they are, because the multiple-page format makes them all but unreadable. Now that the need to maximize inventory has disappeared, maybe this whole annoying thing will go away.

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2 Responses to How the Ad Recession Could Improve the Web

  1. fgdf says:

  2. fgdf says:

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    all in there.

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