ZDNET's Deceptive Ads
By Dennis D. McDonald
In Fake News Is Not the Only Threat to the Internet I discussed why I avoid some web sites because they embrace deceptive advertising practices.
I ran across an example of this this morning when I clicked on a link to a ZDNET article. This is a screenshot of what I saw on my computer screen:
The top half of the screen display the start of the article I was after. But slightly more of the screen is actually taken up with what looks like another, totally unrelated article. That's odd I thought -- why display two articles including one that's appears totally unrelated?
It turns out, of course, that the bottom half of the screen is a link to a totally separate advertisement -- but you don't find out till you click on that link and go to the full ad. The link on the original target page is an example of ads deliberately masquerading as "news," unless you already know what that little "EverQuote" icon means.
It's publishing practices like this that make using sources such as ZDNET on a smartphone a frustrating experience as responsive design algorithms slide text, images, and ads around as you attempt to scroll without touching an active link to a totally separate web site.
For me the lesson is pretty obvious: think long and hard about clicking on a link to a ZDNET article. More importantly, think even longer and harder about recommending a link to a ZDNET article since it's difficult to tell what the user experience will be for someone who follows that referral based on your advice.
Again, I'm not against advertising. Well done and informative ads are useful and helpful. But employing deliberately deceptive ad placement services shows contempt for readers -- and potential customers.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald