Some words on the Advertising on the Verge.
Over the last 3 weeks I've noticed the advertising on The Verge and was surprised that there was no discussion around it. Nothing bad, nothing good.. so these are my initial observations.
Lots of advertisers are looking to reach a more tech savvy audience, they want to target M18-49 with display ads for bigger ticket items (autos, computers) and the Verge is certainly a great place to do that. But how they are doing it, in my opinion is the best part about the way The Verge operates- it never gets in the way!
The Noise Factor (or Lack thereof)
Ever notice that on The Verge users are not bombarded with ads? The stacked frontpage/hub design presents the biggest opportunity to run multiple blocks of ad space. See below:
Rather than overloading the site, there is about 2 display ads per story page (leaderboard and square banner) they also launched w/ branded content which gets featured on the homepage.
The Verge could add in twice as many ad spaces on their front page, and who knows? They may do so in the future.. but for now I find the ads to be non-intrusive and actually work well with the rest of the site. On an episode of the Vergecast Josh mentioned that Hubs were built around the idea that advertisers could 'own' these sections.. something which we haven't really seen done yet, though its a fine idea.
The only thing I would critique at this time would be the amount of times the ads are shown- I've been seeing the same ads for Sony, Alienware and BMW about 100 times.. that level of exposure can't always be great for brands.
Compare this with other tech sites.
Techcrunch finds extra space for ads on every story page- notice the Small 200x200 squares beneath the content and the "Sponsored Links" in the right sidebar.
Engadget gives a somewhat similar experience though Skyscraper banners can be found at the bottom of the right sidebar (in addition to their leaderboard and square display ads at the top).
Whoa there! A huge Sony ad blocks space in the right content section of Gizmodo, something that is not usual over there. Ads next to ads.
CNet has one of the cleaner experiences, but notice how the social media icons follow you all the way down the page.. and beneath the story there is more ugly text advertising.
On Branded Content...
I find the branded content to be a clever way for companies to tie themselves into stories or lighthearted pieces. These hybrid units are somewhat innovative and non-invasive, taken too far though and it could detract people from reading a particular column. Interestingly enough, even these types of integration cannot stop AdBlock. With Adblock running the BMW logo and all other units disappear.
Expandable Rollovers, such as BMW.
I remember on launch day (maybe it was just me) but the BMW ad was set to auto-expand on rollover, and it was something that really got in the way. Anyone else experience this? I'm happy to see that this was fixed somewhere along the way.
I find the BMW 'click to expand' unit to fit well within the design of the site and it looks much better than having the leaderboard posted at the very top of the page above the navigation.
On The Verge and The Vergecast
Anyone else noticed that neither the Vergecast or On The Verge video show feature ads? Not only that but you will not hear Josh or anyone else touting this ad-free experience the entire time, which makes it that much more satisfying. Have I died and gone to tech heaven? Isn't this what we all want? Its pure content. I listen to other podcasts, mostly on the TWiT network and I really hate having to fast-forward through the ads. The Verge is quality.
The Verge could make millions of dollars each year through Advertising alone.
Of course the actual amount will likely never be disclosed, and revenue is largely dependent on the sales team armed with traffic data- but I have no doubt that they will continue to bring in major brands as advertisers and ultimately become a cash cow for VOX.
Thank you to the Verge staff for keeping the ads to a minimum. I hope moving forward you will continue to keep ads to a minimum. I might suggest running branded contents like gadget giveaways. Please do not allow homepage billboards, or completely branded sidebars. Video ads and audio rollovers are also annoying. It'd be great to learn what the future will be for Verge advertising- would you let a company sponsor the frontpage?
You may only think of advertisements as a source of revenue or "something that has to be there" but to us average users, they are also part of the experience. Which so far has been marvelous.