Paginated articles and slide shows drive me crazy - a quick rant

Paginated articles and slide shows drive me crazy - a quick rant

I understand that many news and magazine/blog sites paginate content so they can oversell advertising - which is another topic all together. And I know that slide shows and list articles are very popular. But with the advent of mobile - time and time again, when I visit paginated or slide-based content - it doesn’t work correctly.

Desktop users are not your only viewers

In a few years, we’ll likely look back and recognize that 2014 or 2015 was the time when mobile browsing overtook desktop viewing. And still, sites are failing to optimize their user experience for mobile browsing. If you’re going to paginate or incorporate slideshows - make sure it works easily and smoothly on mobile (of all sizes).

Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of paginated content and usually advocate against it. Personally, I often leave sites or abandon reading pages when I scroll down and encounter a pagination link within an article. Sometimes I’ve simply lost interest in the content, but usually it’s because on mobile the pagination link is too small or doesn’t work easily. So I just leave.

I block advertising on desktop and abandon mobile sites inundated with it

One of the most frustrating aspects of the online world is how ugly it is when you’re not blocking advertising. And yes, I recognize that advertising enables content to be “free”. But it always confounded me when the bean counters opt for volume over scarcity. If you overwhelm visitors with advertising, three things inevitably happen.

One, savvy users install ad blockers to avoid the garbage. Or two, frequent visitors learn to simply ignore the ads - such as with banner blindness - and ads become less and less effective and resort to more and more intrusive techniques to standout. And/or three, the ad rates drop through the floor as your click rate drops due to one and two.

The converse, have one or two ads on a page… and your ad rates will be higher, visitors will be more amenable to viewing them, and they’ll likely be more specific to your target audience - since only smart advertisers that match your readers will pay the higher rates. The Deck ad network does this for creative outlets - and I actually unblock the sites that utilize it - since I know there will be only a single ad per page and that ad will likely be of interest to me (since it’s highly targeted).

But alas, cheap CPM-based impression ads still rule. And as their revenue has dropped, sites have added more and more ads which take up more space than their content at times. Even Google is trending in some categories to show more ads than content when displaying search results*. And now, as ad rates crater, more insidious native advertising is entering the fray.

Which brings me back to the start; paginating articles and slide shows - or injecting ads in the middle of a slide deck - only tends to alienate your visitors. Especially when things don’t work for them. I wonder if a publication will ever simply be brave enough to opt for scarcity pricing. Like super bowl advertising - if there were only limited, exclusive spots available, the pricing would be higher. Though… and here’s the catch 22… the level of your content would need to be super interesting and unique to draw people in.



Nov 30, 2014

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