Monday, March 7, 2016

Usability of Online Advertisements By Amulya Gururaj Siddavanahalli

The impact of online advertisements on users is a very interesting topic as online advertisements are the main source of income for all the websites. Ads are a frequent in websites nowadays some of them have positive impacts and some of them are a useless thing which wastes the users time. Different websites have different kinds of ads, hence I have considered some websites and showcased how ads are used in them. I have mainly studied popular websites like wired, Spotify and Putlocker.

Video advertisements that are used in YouTube have also been considered. Users like me respond to different ads differently.differently. Until now I have not come across any website that gives good advertisement with relevance to the content present on the website.

The topic to be discussed here is the usability of online advertisements, since it is an essential means of marketing products and targeting potential customers. 

Most advertisements according to me have a negative effect on users as they annoy the users and prevent them from revisiting the websites. Pop-ups are considered to be the worst form of advertisements, followed by pop under ads and lastly inline ads. Pop up and pop under ads open up on new tab while inline ads are present within the website.  Nowadays ad blockers on browsers such as Google chrome prevent pop-up and pop -under ads along with inline advertisements.

In this blog I will be illustrating the presence of advertisements on Microsoft edge which is without ad blocking feature and Google chrome which has ad blocker installed.

1. Pop-up advertisements -  While I was using Microsoft edge browser  which does not have the ad blocker I came across the existence of pop up ads. These advertisements open on a new tab blocking the use of the initial website. These kinds of advertisements are mainly designed to attract users attention and also get the email address of users by asking them to register on the pop-up page.

a) Microsoft Edge
  • Firstly I went on Microsoft edge and typed Putlocker which is a website for watching movies and series for free.

  • Then I clicked on the first link shown from my search results which directed me to the website,

  • After I entered the Home page, I wanted to search for a movie and hence clicked on Enter Movie name, as soon as I clicked on that field it directed me to another window with an advertisement, The advertisement blocked me from going back to the previous website and forced me to press the ok button and I was not allowed to exit the new window as well.

  • Once I clicked on the ok button it kept me on this window and when I tried to close the window and get back to the previous window it showed me another pop-up dialog box forcing me to perform an action,

  • I was provided with 2 buttons which where leave the page or stay on this page. I had an option to stay on the ad page or leave it by clicking on leave the page. But when I clicked on leave the page it did not exit the window and kept showing me the pop-up dialog box. finally I realised that I had to check the Don't let this page create more messages and this allowed me to exit the page.
  • Once I exited this window and went back and tried to see the action that caused the website to divert to the advertisement I wasn't able to figure it out. There was no action on click for opening up an ad which lead to opening of new window. 

  • Then I goggled the reason why pop-up ads appear and I discovered that the reason for this is the presence of scripts on the page. Then when I relooked at the source code I discovered that the page had many scripts. These scripts all contained diversions to other pages. Mainly the first src script present on the head section of the html. There is also the presence of an Inline ad.

b) Google chrome
  • I repeated the same steps as I did in Microsoft edge where I first searched for Putlocker on Google search engine and then clicked on the website. Here I have Google ad blocker installed. Hence all of my ads get blocked. Now when I click on enter movie name which I had done previously I do not get the popup as it is blocked.

  • Here 2 inline ads have been blocked and this is internally handled by Google. I also noticed that there is no script present in the header which was present in Microsoft edge. This is the reason why the popup appears in Microsoft edge and not chrome. In chrome there is only presence of inline ad and not the general src script for popup.

2.  Pop-under advertisements - These are the advertisements that open in a new window and appear in the background. These are less annoying when compared to pop-up ads. The reason is that they appear in a new window and do not disrupt the users work on the current website. Pop-under advertisements are not very common anymore. I was not able to find pop under advertisements in Microsoft edge  and Google chrome hence I was have taken a screenshot of how the pop-under ad would look.

3. Inline advertisements - These are the kind of advertisements that appear within the websites. They can be in the form of audio or video and also appear as text ads. These ads can be located at any part of the webpage but by practice they are on top and right hand corner. These advertisements can be opened when we click on the ad, on click the ad opens in a new tab. It is considered to be the least intrusive kind of ad as it does not block the user from their normal goals.  
 a) Microsoft Edge
  • I have opened wired website on Microsoft edge and was able to see inline advertisements on the top and right hand corner of the website. There were no pop-ups encountered on this website.

  • These type of ads are text ads that will open up once you click on them. I further noticed that the top ads and right hand side ads open in different formats. Sometimes the top ad moves to a new tab and sometimes stays on same tab.
  • The right side ad opens in a new tab next to the existing tab and the control moves to that page,

  • On the developer tool I was able to find that these ads appear in an inline block under div.

  • The ad on the top opens up in this case on a new tab, but I also noticed sometimes it opens up on the same tab as that of the website and moves control to ad page.

  • The top ad appear in a img section, the src link is present so that on click it can be transferred to that page.

b) Google Chrome
  • I opened the same website on Google chrome, there were no ads on the top and right hand side.

  • The reason for this is the presence of ad blocker, This had blocked around 9 ads.

  • The adblocker has blocked around 8 websites as seen on the developer tools,

  • Now I can disable the ad blocker on this page by going to ad blocker and clicking on don't run on this page,

  • Once I click on don't run on this page ads get visible on the page as follows,

  • The user can allow the presence of ads if they want or they can change it back to removing the ads by clicking on enable Ad Block on this page,

  • Hence on Google chrome for all the web pages we have the choice of allowing ads or disabling the ads.
 c) Inline Video advertisements
  • There are many websites which have inline ads that appear in the form of a video and start playing once we enter the website,

  • This mainly happens with websites where there are inline ads which when we clicked on pops up on a new tab , The ad on the next page has an embedded video in it which takes control of the volume and starts playing the video along with audio. This kind of ads automatically take control and annoys the users.

  • The only way I can stop this video from playing is to click on the close button which gives rise to the pop-up dialog box where I need to click on leave this page.
4. Video ads on YouTube - YouTube embeds ads along with the videos, it appears in the beginning of the video and can be skipped after 5 seconds. Some ads which are small do not give the option of skipping the ad and also on Google chrome these ads do not appear as they are blocked by ad blocker.

          a) Microsoft Edge
  • I tried to listen to a song on YouTube when I click on the video to watch it there is an embedded ad which continues for 13 seconds. as you can see on the left hand bottom of the video.

  • As you can see the ad takes control and continues for 13 seconds before playing the song I want to watch,

  • During the 13 seconds I cannot even fast-forward the ad as the fast-forward button doesn't work. Total control is in the hands of the ad. The source for this is below,

b) Google Chrome
  • I tried to play the same song on a different browser Google chrome, and there was no ad visible it just started playing the song as there is the ad blocker present.

  • When I inspected using the developer tools I understood Google ad blocker blocks these kind of ads and directly allows the user to play songs without any interruptions,

c) Mobile phone Iphone
  • When I tried to play the same song on my Iphone I got an ad, and had the option to skip it after 5s

  • I am forced to see the ad for 5 seconds before I can skip it and start listening to my song, After 5 seconds the skip as button appears which when clicked skips the ad and directly takes me to the song I want to watch. I was not able to investigate this as I do not have developer tools on my Iphone.

  • Once I click on the skip ad button I directly skip the ad move to the video I want to watch , This is giving the user partial control and choice of watching the ad or not after the first 5 seconds.
5. Sponsor ads on Spotify - These are the kinds of ads that appear on Spotify app which allows the user to listen to music for free for a certain period of time before the next ad shows.
  • Sponsor ads appear on the top of the app that is installed on the desktop or phone,

  • Drake zone on the top is a sponsored ad which allows you to listen to free music  for certain time, Once I click on the sponsored section it opens a popup on Microsoft edge.

   6. Google Ads
  • These are the kind of ads that appear on the Google search engine. I like the way Google has differentiated the ads in our searches

  • The ads in the search results appear have Ad written on them on the left hand side of the link. A user can clearly distinguish ads results from non ad results and select the appropriate option. 
There are different kinds of ads that are available online and are annoying to the user as most of the ads do not have any relevance to the website and annoy the user. The most irritating part is that the control from the user is taken and the flow of the users goal on the website is interrupted and hence the users flow is disturbed and sometimes the presence of these ads make the user take decisions of not visiting the website ever again.
 One more important thing to consider here is that the presence of ads varies on each of the browsers. If you use Microsoft Edge you are faced with many ads as there is no ad blocking option. While If you open the same website on Google chrome with ad blocker enabled it blocks unwanted ads and gives you an uninterrupted experience of the website.

It is also noticeable that Google ad blocker has removed inline ads apart as well as pop-up ads. While I started writing the blog I was under the impression that pop-under ads still exist but now it is clear that they do not exist.

Tips for Less intrusions of advertisements:

 1. Use Google chrome,Safari or Firefox web browser
2. Make sure Ad Blocker is installed on Chrome browser and is enabled on all websites.
3. Never turn of the Ad Blocker option.
4. Never click on the advertisements which are inline on website if using any other browser apart from Chrome.



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