I hate playing Whack-a-Mole with ads!

Advertisers are getting more and more clever these days, unfortunately they may also be driving visitors away from sites.

I visit a lot of websites each day tracking down stories, looking for ideas or just surfing to pages that catch my fancy. But there are some sites that I simply refuse to stay on once I’ve seen the types of ads they serve.

We’ve all seen the banners, the popups, the interstitials, the videos you can’t close, the ads that start playing when you simply scroll past them, the bottom banners and the boxes that simply won’t go away. And you’ve probably clicked on an ad by accident because they make their buttons look like a ‘next page’ icon. And there are ads that look like message boxes with ambiguous options so you don’t know whether clicking ‘OK’ means close the box or go to the advertiser’s site.

All of these ads are annoying and intrusive and in some cases they are so frustrating they are actually driving visitors away from sites.

One of the most annoying types of ads I’ve seen recently are the ones that are embedded smack in the middle of an article and expand when you scroll past them to play a video that you can’t stop or close. When the video expands it pushes the text down off the bottom of the page so you have to scroll past the ad window to continue reading while the ad plays. When the ad finally stops the window shrinks again and the text gets pushed back up again so you have to scroll up to finish reading.

Scroll down, scroll back up, find your place and continue reading. I hate those pages and I’ve gotten to the point where I simply close the site and go someplace else even if there is something interesting on the site. It’s just not worth fighting through the ads.

And then there are the slideshow articles that are broken up into several pages. And each page means reloading a dozen different ads, more popups, more banners and more frustration.

Finally, the ads these days never seem to put the close button in the same place (and sometimes there is no close button). It’s like playing a game of Whack-a-Mole. An ad pops up that prevents you from reading the content on the page and you search for the close button, click on it, read a few sentences and another ad pops up with the close button in a different place. Sometimes the close button is in the site’s top banner, sometimes it’s on the left edge of the ad, sometimes in the lower-right corner, sometimes in the upper-right.

Whack! Whack! Whack!

And playing this insidious Whack-a-Mole game is even worse on a portable device or smartphone where the close buttons are smaller than pin heads.

Apple and Microsoft have gone to great lengths to try and insure that software and interfaces have a consistent ‘look and feel’ where ‘close,’ ‘expand’ and ‘minimize’ buttons are always in the same places, but ads completely disregard these conventions.

In many cases the sites have no control over what kinds of ads appear on the site. They simply sign up for a service that serves ads to sites. But there are some sites that purposely make it difficult to avoid the ads and even disguise their own navigation buttons to trick people into clicking on ads. These are the sites that I hate the most and as soon as I see something like that I leave.

And you should leave too because the only way that advertisers and websites are going to change their tactics is when they begin to realize that their techniques have become so intrusive that they are actually driving people away rather than generating real leads.

So ask yourself the next time you see an ad like these “do you really want to buy something from a company that serves ads that are designed to frustrate, deceive and force you to watch something you don’t want to watch?”