Clutter is killing online media. Today’s digital experiences are often a jumble of conflicting messages. Multiple ads fight with poorly presented content leaving viewers confused and this leaves the medium misused and devalued. Giles Ivey explains why it’s time for the internet to clean up its act.
The fragmentation of media is often seen as a nightmare for brands trying to pin down their target audiences. But the reality is that there has never been a greater opportunity for these brands to engage more deeply with the right consumers, in the right place, at the right time. This is because there has been an explosion of media on the internet covering every conceivable subject, from tech to interior design.
Whatever your interest, somewhere there’s an online community dedicated to it. The best examples of these have passionate and loyal followings, and this presents an ideal advertising opportunity to the appropriate brands. The problem is that the value of online advertising for many brands is being seriously eroded because of the cluttered, ineffective design of most websites. The growing disorder makes the content increasingly difficult to digest, turning off consumers, which in turn repels advertisers, and shrinks revenues. The reality is there are few opportunities for brands to present themselves appropriately or to stand out online in today’s context. This inferior offering has created nothing more than a direct response medium and restricted the value of much of online advertising to a little above “free”.
In their clamour for revenue, many online publishers have gone for quantity over quality and in doing so have undermined the content that they produce – most of it is hardly readable amidst the mayhem of conflicting commercial messages. This is bad for content creators, advertisers, consumers, and ultimately bad for the internet. Audiences are finding online content increasingly difficult to consume, while more advertisers are fighting for attention and context.
Do and don'ts
-focus on creating strong content
-engage with your audience
-stay true to your authentic voice
-Don’t be tempted to sell every space and over-saturate the site with ads
-force the ad experience
-be afraid to take chances and try something new with the layout
The solution is simple: redesign sites to create clean, clear, legible content with a small amount of prime real estate where brands can really stand out. This encourages advetisers to promote themselves online effectively as they can engage with consumers and deliver their key messages. Audiences are attracted to beautifully presented content and these consumers, given the opportunity to share and discuss, will spend more time with the online content as a result.
This isn’t just some idealist nonsense without any basis in fact. Research has shown that sites with multiple flashing and blinking banner ads at the top, bottom and sides of the page detract from the content and drive audiences away. Ultimately, by creating environments in which display advertising can thrive alongside valuable content, consumers will spend more time on sites, and advertisers will be willing to pay a premium for highly engaged audiences.
Two sites that are managing this sift extremely well are xojane.com and remodalista.com. Both sites have gone for fewer, larger and more engaging ad formats, giving the content they produce more space. The effect is an environment which is easier for readers to navigate and discover relevant content and products. Designs like this are really raising the bar on online publishing.
The key things online publishers to understand is that cutting the online clutter does work.
Giles Ivey is the EMEA & APAC MD at SAY Media