It is more than a little frustrating to click on an interesting link and begin to read the article it links to only to be interrupted five seconds by a blacked-out web page and a pop-up box asking for my email address or to send money. That’s especially true if the box moves so it’s harder to close it, or how to close it is cleverly disguised so it takes awhile to find it. I will not go back to a website like that nor will I pass the link along to others because the owners of that site have made it clear to me that their real product is me! They want to sell my eyes to advertisers or my email address to purveyors of junk mail.
Isn’t it enough to provide compelling content and know that if people want to follow you they will find a link for email updates or alerts? Why do you think your obnoxiousness will endear me to you or your advertisers? It does not. I’m sure the research shows more people will sign up if you’re obnoxious about it, but is it really worth it when you lose so much crediblity about your concern for your customer?
I do not have a problem with people selling their products or services on a website, or even advertising the goods and services of others to help offset their costs of providing content. That can all be done in a comeplling, responsible, and appropriate way, where you guide people to your services, rather than manipulate them so overtly. The need to maximize the monetary value of a website or its statistics by manipulating unnecessary “clicks” has reached such ridiculous proportions, that I’ve decided I will no longer vist websites that…
- Confront me with a pop-up window to block their page, either to show me an ad or try to harvest my email address.
- Automtically start video or audio without my selecting it.
- Have so many ads around the content they they remind me of NASCAR.
- Have a flashing “donate now” button prominently on the front page, unless they are a charity raising funds for other people.
- Promise something for free, but then require my email address to get it.
- Require multiple clicks to view simple information
- Use false or misleading titles that don’t actually reflect the content of the article.
- Intentionally confuse the “continue reading” button with buttons that link me to their adverisers.
All of these set my Yuck Meter off, and even more so when these are found on websites that present themselves as helping people find their way in God’s kingdom. Don’t they trust that God will provide for them and if not why do I want to partake of their teachings?
Provide me with great content that is relevant to life and I will beat a path to your door, subscribe where I want to and even make a contribution if that’s how you roll. But websites that use the above tactics clearly demonstrate that instead of providing valuable content that are exploiting me for their own gain. Visit them if you want, but I don’t have the time to navigate through all the garbage unless the content is truly stellar, and it usually isn’t or they wouldn’t have to resort to such tactics.
Yes, I feel a bit like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, so call it my one-man rebellion against inappropriate exploitation of the Internet for commercial purposes. But if others adopted the same policy those websites would have to change. If you instantly leave any website that is overly manipulative and they will see it. I click away as soon as they block my view of the site for an ad or email sign-up. If I have a hard time finding the content I want for all the ads that surround it, I leave too. Those kinds of websites track such things and they will change when they discover people are taking offense to them. It’s a bottom-line industry and it’s not your bottom line that they care about. Refuse to be manipulated by these tactics and your world will grow simpler even if they never change. And what’s more, you won’t miss their content anyway.
In fact, we can do that with lots of things. When you feel manipulated vote with your feet and whether or not that changes the world, it will change your world. Life is too short and time too precious to let others demand more of you than you are willing to give.