New ad experience – feedback welcomed

The number of paying Subscribers/Supporters have fallen on this site this year perhaps because I now only offer an annual option, so I had to re-vamp the site’s ad strategy with the help of my ad provider (Monumetric). They’ve tinkered with several ad placement areas and done so differently on both mobile and desktop. Indeed this was implemented alongside a visual change to the entire website which should also have delivered the benefit of making the site display properly on smartphones.

I would appreciate any useful feedback on how I can change the ad experience. It varies from visit-to-visit depending on your previous online behaviour so I can’t check the ad experience for everyone. Hence I would appreciate your help to get it right. ‘Get it right‘ probably means ‘only mildly annoying‘ rather than ‘makes me click away within 5 seconds

I stopped doing the monthly/quarterly Site Supporter options as the PayPal fees were disproportionately high. I still offer the Annual Supporter option and the ad experience for such Supporters should be greatly reduced for those of you who are kind enough to help there. FWIW If I got 5 new supporters a day I’d totally remove the ads and you might think that, with several million annual page views, I’d get that level of support…but I don’t.

I don’t particularly want to host ads at all but the alternatives to making up the loss in ad revenues don’t stack up as the vast majority of readers want free content. Ads are the consequence of that, as is short-form content. I would add that over the last 3 years I have experimented with a number of approaches to delivering the content in a way that makes it worth my while and the solution for me just simply isn’t to copy somebody else…you get where I’m going with that comment, I’m sure.

Please remember that I DO want to give a good reader experience but that my time resources are highly limited compared to larger media sites.


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18 thoughts on “New ad experience – feedback welcomed

  1. EDIT: This thread has been moved from a different post. this post attempts to address this issue as raised below

    Man, what is going off with this site! Been a reader for a long time, but its getting bad.

    This is not a review, but you are using keyword spam to drive traffic. The entire site is full of spammy ads and the sites UX is all over the place. Navigation is terrible and it’s full of pop ups!

    Since the redesign the focus has been 100% about making money at the expense of the reader experience. It’s like another person has taken over.

      1. Missing the point, not saying you can’t generate cash. But not at the expense of the reader exp. I suspect these are not Adsense or the account would be suspended by now.

        It’s the pops and scrollovers that block the content and make it impossible to nav the site. Without clicking on them. Then the random ads that break the site layout. Try navigating the site on a mobile, it’s terrible, it’s just disorganized.

        The final point, the “review schema” you are using is deceptive. This is not a review, but you are using it and similar keywords in the title and url. All in a hope to rank higher, You do realize google looks out for this and gives penalties around incorrect use of schema.

        I have been a reader for 4 years now and the past few months it’s been getting worse. With the amount of traffic you get (or did) you could make a nice pay cheque!

        Serious get someone to look at it for you before google hits you with penalties and action due to the slow speed, poor UX, ads and schema deception.

      2. my ads were changed quite recently by the company that provides them. the UX seems alright to me when i look on mobile; as you know ads are shown differently for each visitor. I will revisit it, thank you for the heads up

        FWIW I do mostly understand SEO and this article is *FAR* FROM SEO-OPTIMISED, nor did I intend it to be. Probably the sole reason it might have ranked highly for the keyphrase you typed was because I published it a day late, hence it scores more highly in the Google algorithm on the ‘newness’ front. It will fall down the rankings soon enough unless I add in detailed review content over time (which I intend to)

        Edit: I’ve made some changes to the ads. Let me know if it seems better. I think I have stopped most ads appearing inside the content that is being read. These in-content ads should be hidden from paying supporters in any case.

      3. I never said it was SEO optimized, you are right, it is far from it as it only appears on page 3 of

        Optimized SEO is not the same as SEO deception.

        The point I am trying to make. You are using REVIEW SCHEMA when the said article is NOT a review. You have even populated the Review box with scores, which as you well know will appear in Google and help optimize the article for rankings.

        The title has the word review
        The url has the word review
        The article has review scheme
        The article has a review score

        How can you give the article a review score and use scheme when it’s not a review? This is clear deception and because you have said you understand SEO, you know 100% what you are doing.

        For me, that is no better than keyword spamming in the footer. Ultimately, you can deny this, but Google will catch on and that will crush the site.

        In terms of ads, it’s not the ads in the content. It’s the ad widgets that show for both mobile and web versions that break the layout. Then the annoying Read More pop up! It’s come up 3 times when I was writing this comment

      4. I think we’ll have to politely disagree, I do understand what you are saying. it does count as a review as it is an informed assessment of the product. It might not be the content you want and the content might not be what you want it to be informed on, nevertheless, it is a review and Google will for sure find it acceptable.

        thank you for the feedback on the READ MORE pop up thing, i’ll revisit that as it should only appear once and then never again for a considerable number of weeks…which i thought was reasonable behaviour as found on other sites.
        i’m not sure what you mean by ‘widgets’. the wordrpress-widget ads appear to the right of the content on desktop and below the content on mobile (using the wordpress definition of a widget)

  2. On a PC, the ad that hovers at the bottom seems invasive, but other than that, the other ads seems reasonable.

  3. Maybe I’m a bit more naive than the other person commenting, but I really don’t find it particularly intrusive myself. The ads aren’t difficult to avoid. The fact you are seeking out feedback suggests to me that you genuinely are trying to strike a balance; I suppose in and of itself that doesn’t make any difference to the reader experience, but its nice to know.

  4. Regarding the comment about it being a review. You may want to read up on google scheme. The article you wrote is an opinion article. Which should have scheme appropriate for it.

    You have some well written reviews that are very detailed on this site . Which makes me laugh out loud, you try and pass the wahoo article as a review. It’s not a review. You know it and I know it. It’s not about if it’s the content I want, it appears in google (although page 4) with review scheme and it’s deceptive to the reader.

    We can disagree all you want, makes no diff to me as it’s you that wants paying for the time you put in. But if you get hit with a penalty for the issues I have pointed out, you won’t be making money. Doing a little more digging into the traffic history, it looks like you might already have as you have taken a huge drop. Which happened abruptly, which points towards a google penalty. Although this could just be an algorithm penalty, which are harder to bounce back from.

    Like I said, been a reader for 4 years and I know what I am talking about when it comes to google and SEO. If you want to make money then do it clean. If not it’s going to be a painful lesson if you get hit again

  5. You say that you’ve stopped the monthly subscription via PayPal, but money is still going out monthly from my PayPal and has been for over 2 years with no action from me (last one was 3 May 20). I assume I need to cancel that?

    On another note, the ads are just properly crazy now. Just as I was writing this post, one popped up over my iPad keyboard; it’s properly annoying now 🙁

    1. After a couple more days, I’m really finding the ads are way too aggressive and intrusive on my iPad in particular; and that’s whilst logged in as a supporter and I’m supposed to get less ads! The ads are continually popping up over the top of articles on the home page and are hard to dismiss. It’s making it all pretty miserable visiting this place now; which is a shame, as the content is great (why I’ve been a paid supporter for the last 2 years).

      1. thank you for the feedback and support. I made some changes to mobile, i am having problems with continual changes to the underlying software coupled with very little time to review those changes.

        a screenshot of a specific example would help me narrow things down, as we all see different ads on any given page

      2. ha ! yes that’s the one on the left side.
        that is a new industry-wide thing that google have introduced. i have tried EVERYTHING to get rid of it whilst displaying ads but can’t.
        i’m going to have to go back to the provider and see what they say.

        eesh – in-image ads have also started appearing

      3. right, that should now be gone. it’s called a PILLAR ad and hopefully shall be no more.

        with the supporter side you can cancel the older monthly/quarterly ones at any time and resubscribe to the annual one if that’s what you’d like. thank you for your continued support and welcomed feedback from time-to-time!

      4. Yup, that’s definitely cleared things up thanks. I’m happy to stick with the existing monthly thing, rather than setting something new up; as long as the money is going to you to help run the site and not in to some PayPal vortex.

      5. Got it. I’ll change from the the monthly if it’s just lining PayPal’s pockets.

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