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It's no secret that online advertising revenue has declined over the course of the past several months, several websites have gone out of business, and most of the rest of us continue to scramble to recoup lost income. It's also probably pretty obvious that we have always tried to be as unobtrusive with ads as possible to date, and those two situations ran into a headlong collision last night. This happened when we started running some ad script for a DVD offer that was one of those Flash dealies that I assumed would "just" be one of those noisy, animated embedded ads you see more of these days. As it turns out, it was a bit more: A semi-transparent overlay that sat atop the news page until dismissed, which, in a further twist, had a confusing enough label on the close button that some folks were having trouble getting rid of it at all. When I saw the ad, I thought that people would understand its intrusiveness--after all, as stated above, these are tough times for websites, and we've often had responses from readers about the state of the web saying if more ads were required, so be it. Well, we quickly were flooded with complaints about the situation, obviously fuelled by the multimedia-ness of the ad, but also probably partly my fault, since I was so quick to quash the couple of previous times pop-up ads occurred here (since they were without our knowledge).
I am concerned with the nature of some of the complaints about the ad. There were a couple of themes that came up repeatedly in the feedback: there were comments that expressed the hope that this isn't a new trend, and others saying how long the complainant had been a reader of the site, but if the intrusive ad went on much longer this would change. Now, the close button problem is a different issue, but aside from that, I just want to make the case for being more tolerant of occasions like this in the future... we are not looking at adding more conspicuous advertising out of greed, or we could have done so during the heyday of dot-commery and cleaned up... we are looking at making the site viable to continue to survive. If it really is just a die hard (no pun intended) fact that such ads are going to drive readers away, we are in a real bind, but I guess the reason I'm rambling on here is the hope that explaining all this will make any inconvenience from intrusive ads (whether we start running this one again, or others in the future, or if we just plaster the site with banners and buttons) more palatable by pointing out that they may well be necessary to keep bringing you all the carnage that's fit to post.
If we get a version of the ad with a fixed button, I'll put it online so people who missed it last night can see what I'm talking about, and see where this goes from there. However that turns out, in any event, the ad was not permanent, so if it comes back online, even if you hate it perhaps you can show it a little patience for the time it's here... it should be a great help to us, and any patience and understanding you can spare are greatly appreciated. By the way (sorry for going on so long here), not all the responses were negative, and so I want to also express appreciation to those who expressed understanding about the situation, as well as those who have always tried to support our advertisers by checking out their ads.
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