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What If Paid Content Meant No Annoying Advertising?

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Earlier this summer I wrote a post about how I would be willing to pay to not have to look at an ugly shingles add every time I clicked on the NYT.com homepage (not to mention the walking, talking Mac ads). I speculated that ads such as these were merely a surreptitious way for online publications to annoy us so much that readers would beg to pay to get rid of them. And I’m still not convinced that’s not the larger plan, because as the Internet gets more tech savvy, the progression of online ads is feeling increasingly intrusive! I will not be surprised if someone soon begins to create ads that are able to follow me around from site to site like some sort of Energizer Bunny 2.0.

Case in point. Two, actually. Today’s NYT.com business section is sporting an ad for a Canon color printer that suddenly turns the entire page black and white before the proper page folds down to inform you “everything is better in color!” (But not before you are induced into having a minor panic attack that your logic board had suddenly and finally gone haywire.) Now, does this inspire you to buy a Canon printer, or does this inspire you to click elsewhere in hopes of finding an unfettered (unfrozen, depending on how updated your browser is) reading experience?

Then there’s Politico, which of late has opted to let you load most of the page you are aiming for before diverting you to a full page ad. Which is basically just enough time to decide if the reason you were going to the site in the first place is worth your time after all.

What to do. Viewers are accustomed to being interrupted by commercials when they watch TV, but readers are not accustomed to regularly being interrupted from their content by walking, talking, randomly loading advertisements. It is infuriating, and one imagines accomplishes the exact opposite of what ads are intended to do, which is give the advertiser money! Perhaps every paper should dip its toe into the scary paid content ocean by opting to let the reader pay a fee to have an advertising-free experience. That would (increasingly) be worth my money.

Related: Apparently All Things D’s Peter Kafka had a similar experience this morning.

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