What a great weekend in sunny Vienna at WordCamp Europe. We were really happy to be around the WordPress community. And of course to hear all the talented speakers do their thing.  From talks on basic WordPress to customer services, design and more advanced topics, there was something for us all.

Making Ads Great Again was the Donald Trump inspired title of Adam Silverstein’s talk on the future of internet advertising. His perspective on the state of web advertising and how it can be improved was as entertaining as it was insightful.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

He began with the question: ‘Who actually likes web ads?’ Silverstein’s answer… ‘nobody’. For different but equally valid reasons, not the site visitors, designers, publishers, developers or even the advertisers themselves.

His comparison of web ads with those in print media did a good job of highlighting one of the main problems with web ads. Firstly, they are generally ugly and uninspiring. They just are not in the same league design-wise. Secondly, they are usually annoying too. This is a theory easily backed up by the sheer volume of people using adblock extensions.

He suggested that the following types of web ad are the most annoying:

  • Fullscreen popovers
  • Scroll-jackers
  • Pushdown ads (which cause huge amounts of page movement)
  • Clickbait
  • Wallpaper / Interstitial ads

Making Ads Great

It is not all doom and gloom for web advertising though. Silverstein gave some useful examples of ways that you can create ads that (probably) won’t drive people to installing an adblock:

  • Yieldmo’s Hyperscroller which ‘leverages the natural behavior of a user scrolling down a mobile webpage. This format uses a patent-pending technology called “position aware” to detect where it is on the page and deliver 20 frames of animation.
  • Teads Native Video ads, which ‘are entirely respectful to the user experience. They make the decision to watch or to ignore the advertising’.
  • And more generally, native advertising on the whole. It can be creative and unobtrusive, while still being transparent about what it is.

Silverstein went on to propose a best-practice advertising checklist for your site:

  • Preserve UX (never degrade your site for money)
  • Use fewer more valuable and targeted ads
  • Place ads strategically with a consistent and simple layout
  • Use batch requests
  • Have responsive DFP ads

In conclusion Silverstein provided a quick summary. He emphasized that you should get ads in design early, and you should look at the various ways they can be placed. You should always stand firm against bad UX, and spend a lot of time on trying to discover as many creative solutions for native ads as possible.

About the Author

I'm relatively new to the WordPress ecosystem, but I have always been an avid writer. It feels amazing to do something I love and learn so much at the same time. Outside of work I'm usually reading novels, watching documentaries or feeling disappointed with Newcastle United.