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(The Atlantic)   The pernicious myth that slideshows drive traffic   (theatlantic.com) divider line 72
    More: Interesting, Nick Denton, The Atlantic Wire, myths, traffic  
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6881 clicks; posted to Main » on 08 May 2012 at 9:27 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-05-08 08:57:40 AM  
For a time, people measured site 'traffic' by the number of page views on that site.

Yes they did. In 1996.
 
2012-05-08 09:29:30 AM  
I always thought the Pernicious Myths squatting in the elevators were scary.
 
2012-05-08 09:30:15 AM  
As you can see by slide 347 of our amortized scheduling of assets, the assets are amortized. Now if you will flip to slide 348 we can proceed.
 
2012-05-08 09:31:48 AM  
The Pernicious Myths were awesome. I saw them back in '94. They played that fan-favorite, Slideshow.
 
2012-05-08 09:32:41 AM  

sharkbeagle: As you can see by slide 347 of our amortized scheduling of assets, the assets are amortized. Now if you will flip to slide 348 we can proceed.


I read that in Ben Steins voice. It just makes more sense that way.
 
2012-05-08 09:36:20 AM  
As if we needed any more, this article provides yet more evidence that the WaPo has slide from excellent to good to mediocre to pitiful in record time.
 
2012-05-08 09:38:46 AM  
Hard coding your website font size so you have ridiculous amounts of whitespace on a laptop screen and I have to hit the zoom just to be able to read your ridiculous story = I hate you so much with nuclear rage.
 
2012-05-08 09:40:37 AM  
No, I don't f*king think so.
 
2012-05-08 09:41:13 AM  
img0.fark.net Why use slideshows, when you can just split every article in two?
 
2012-05-08 09:41:43 AM  
The advertising networks have to maintain a large inventory of available ad impressions (opportunities to show a new ad) because it takes thousands of impressions to get just one click for an advertiser (who normally pays per-click). Therefore, sites need to generate more page views, which means more ad impressions, which slideshows are able to do effectively.

Say you go to a site and it's a nice, easy to read, 1-page piece of content. Great for you, but for the site/advertiser, they can only show you 1 set of ads. If the same site presents the same content in a slideshow, even if most people only look at one slide and then say "fark this", they were still able to deliver the same amount (1) of ads. But some people will look at more than one slide. And, if it averages out to 2 slides per person, the site has doubled it's available inventory of ad impressions to sell.
 
2012-05-08 09:43:42 AM  
I'm maybe a bit jaded. I'll click once or twice and if it's not a good PHOTO GALLERY then I'm done. I don't even click on crack(ed) links anymore because I'm sick of clicking through stories.
 
2012-05-08 09:45:13 AM  
I'm not sure why this is a hard concept to understand - advertisers buy based on page views/ad views. Slideshows drive that metric up. Therefore that metric will continue to be the most important, because the money from the advertisers is what pays for the site.
 
2012-05-08 09:50:00 AM  
A certain unnamed sports site that gets greenlit here way too much and is full of crappy slideshow "articles" shall not be named.

You know who I mean, though.
 
2012-05-08 09:53:20 AM  
Don't forget the other reason for not putting all the content on a single page: dialup.
 
2012-05-08 09:55:20 AM  
None of you are wrong, but you're missing the author's point. He's saying the move is short-sighted. You'll get a bump in page views today... but those people are less likely to come back or be amiable towards you and your advertisers.

The alternative suggested is that a site focused on convenient, higher-quality content will increase their page views though increased unique visitors, which would almost certainly mean higher click-through rates, and a better return on investment for the advertisers.
 
2012-05-08 09:58:21 AM  
They may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away.
 
2012-05-08 10:01:49 AM  

Jerkwater: The advertising networks have to maintain a large inventory of available ad impressions (opportunities to show a new ad) because it takes thousands of impressions to get just one click for an advertiser (who normally pays per-click). Therefore, sites need to generate more page views, which means more ad impressions, which slideshows are able to do effectively.

Say you go to a site and it's a nice, easy to read, 1-page piece of content. Great for you, but for the site/advertiser, they can only show you 1 set of ads. If the same site presents the same content in a slideshow, even if most people only look at one slide and then say "fark this", they were still able to deliver the same amount (1) of ads. But some people will look at more than one slide. And, if it averages out to 2 slides per person, the site has doubled it's available inventory of ad impressions to sell.


Except for when...

The Irresponsible Captain: I'm maybe a bit jaded. I'll click once or twice and if it's not a good PHOTO GALLERY then I'm done. I don't even click on crack(ed) links anymore because I'm sick of clicking through stories.


Now you have 0 ad impressions.

The question is did you get enough doubling or quintupling of ad impressions prior to pissing your users off to make up for them giving you no ad impressions in the future?
 
2012-05-08 10:04:03 AM  

digidorm:
The alternative suggested is that a site focused on convenient, higher-quality content will increase their page views though increased unique visitors, which would almost certainly mean higher click-through rates, and a better return on investment for the advertisers.


But that's all work, and it's not the advertising kind of work that generates immediate revenue, the only kind of revenue that matters when your CEO is ready to do a header out the window with his golden parachute at the first sign his stock options are decreasing in value.
 
2012-05-08 10:05:35 AM  
"Pernicious Traffic Myth" would make a decent band name... Could name their first two albums Confirmed and Plausible, then split up and release Busted: Greatest Hits of Pernicious Traffic Myth.
 
2012-05-08 10:06:33 AM  
I can't say that I really resent slide shows or the people who employ them -- as I close the window I just feel a vague regret that I won't be able to read whatever it was that I wanted to read when I went to the page in the first place. I get the same feeling when I click on an article that I think is going to be interesting, only to find that it isn't an article, it's a video about the subject of the article -- I close the window and shrug. All of that aside, I'm still pretty stunned that click through advertising works at all. I doubt I've intentionally clicked an ad since the days of Netscape, Lycos, and Yahoo.
 
2012-05-08 10:08:56 AM  
Someone web-publish a novel, one word to a page, as an experiment.
 
2012-05-08 10:08:58 AM  

roncofooddehydrator: I'm not sure why this is a hard concept to understand - advertisers buy based on page views/ad views. Slideshows drive that metric up. Therefore that metric will continue to be the most important, because the money from the advertisers is what pays for the site.


But IMO the average website visitor probably spends less time on a slide in a slideshow than on a proper article, so your clicks per visit from a slideshow is going to be lower than the clicks per visit from a written article. That lowers the attractiveness of your site to advertisers, and thus the fees that they're willing to pay for placing ads.
 
2012-05-08 10:09:20 AM  
The only thing I hate worse than slideshows is having to run 2+ scripts just to see the text of an article and 4+ to see images and videos. If you design your site that way, you're deliberately being an asshole, but unlike slideshows, you get away with it, because most people don't even know you're doing it.

*cough* gawker *cough*
 
2012-05-08 10:18:34 AM  
I don't mind slideshows, but if you have to click "More" on every slide just to read the caption, that's what really pisses me off.
 
2012-05-08 10:23:19 AM  
There's only two type of slide shows I'll tolerate. One is a Boston Globe Big Picture slideshow. The other involves hot women in little or no clothes.
 
2012-05-08 10:24:18 AM  

imontheinternet: The only thing I hate worse than slideshows is having to run 2+ scripts just to see the text of an article and 4+ to see images and videos. If you design your site that way, you're deliberately being an asshole, but unlike slideshows, you get away with it, because most people don't even know you're doing it.

*cough* gawker *cough*


I can say, without a doubt, this is the most frustrating aspect of many websites. If by script 4-5 I cannot read your article, see your video/pictures...I am gone and never coming back. Having to allow that many scripts in order for me to view your site is inexcusable.
 
2012-05-08 10:27:28 AM  

Litig8r: All of that aside, I'm still pretty stunned that click through advertising works at all. I doubt I've intentionally clicked an ad since the days of Netscape, Lycos, and Yahoo.


This bears repeating from now until the heat death of the universe. The combination of people being able to "tune out" advertisements and ad block should have rendered pay per click obsolete years ago.
 
2012-05-08 10:31:18 AM  

Litig8r: I can't say that I really resent slide shows or the people who employ them -- as I close the window I just feel a vague regret that I won't be able to read whatever it was that I wanted to read when I went to the page in the first place. I get the same feeling when I click on an article that I think is going to be interesting, only to find that it isn't an article, it's a video about the subject of the article -- I close the window and shrug. All of that aside, I'm still pretty stunned that click through advertising works at all. I doubt I've intentionally clicked an ad since the days of Netscape, Lycos, and Yahoo.


Bears repeating. (The classy way to say "this")
 
2012-05-08 10:32:00 AM  

Endive Wombat: imontheinternet: The only thing I hate worse than slideshows is having to run 2+ scripts just to see the text of an article and 4+ to see images and videos. If you design your site that way, you're deliberately being an asshole, but unlike slideshows, you get away with it, because most people don't even know you're doing it.

*cough* gawker *cough*

I can say, without a doubt, this is the most frustrating aspect of many websites. If by script 4-5 I cannot read your article, see your video/pictures...I am gone and never coming back. Having to allow that many scripts in order for me to view your site is inexcusable.



Bears repeating. (The classy way to say "this")
 
2012-05-08 10:43:37 AM  
I loathe slideshows and actively refuse to click through 99% of them. Once in a blue moon I'll come across one that I'm actually interested enough in to bother, but only after looking elsewhere for the same set in a non-slideshow format.
 
2012-05-08 10:48:05 AM  
Take away the slideshow (and the ability to steal hundreds of pictures off the net) and you would kill 98% of Bleacher Report's "content".
 
2012-05-08 10:50:14 AM  
 
2012-05-08 10:53:57 AM  
I'd have no issue with Fark never approving any link with a slideshow, even with the "warning".
 
2012-05-08 10:55:05 AM  
I dont mind slideshows. As long as every slide doesnt refresh the entire page and the [Next] button doesnt jump around every page.
 
2012-05-08 10:55:48 AM  

Resolute: Take away the slideshow (and the ability to steal hundreds of pictures off the net) and you would kill 98% of Bleacher Report's "content".


No one should be reading that crap, anyway. My phone gives me Bleacher Report links under my hockey news tab, and it took me about 3 visits to conclude that it was staffed by idiots. It's like reading what a teenage fan thinks of his team.

"Team A is good because they are better than others. Therefore, they are good and will win stuff."
 
2012-05-08 10:58:10 AM  

swahnhennessy: Resolute: Take away the slideshow (and the ability to steal hundreds of pictures off the net) and you would kill 98% of Bleacher Report's "content".

No one should be reading that crap, anyway. My phone gives me Bleacher Report links under my hockey news tab, and it took me about 3 visits to conclude that it was staffed by idiots. It's like reading what a teenage fan thinks of his team.

"Team A is good because they are better than others. Therefore, they are good and will win stuff."


Isn't it just a site of user submitted articles? It's like if people were linking to fark posts about a news event.
 
2012-05-08 11:02:04 AM  
FTA: But I don't think this is a sustainable long-term strategy

Well duh. Here's the issue.

No one is LOOKING for a sustainable long-term strategy.

Know why?

1) Long term strategies are more work with smaller (or no) immediate rewards.

(CEOs do not give a fark what happens 5 years after they are gone.)

2) Long term strategies usually require some form of investment. Usually much larger than a short term crappy strategy.

(CEOs look for the quick boost so they can go out on top, with lots of dough)

3) Long term strategies are a gamble and can fail.

(CEOs want to look successful, so "tried and true" is the rule, even if it means the corp goes down in flames, that's the NEXT guy's problem).

We've created a system where there is not only no incentive to think long term, but that a CEO would actually have to act AGAINST his own best interest to think long term. How many CEOs do YOU know act against their own best interest? Hint: None.
 
2012-05-08 11:02:18 AM  
Yugoboy
Endive Wombat: imontheinternet:
The only thing I hate worse than slideshows is having to run 2+ scripts just to see the text of an article and 4+ to see images and videos. If you design your site that way, you're deliberately being an asshole, but unlike slideshows, you get away with it, because most people don't even know you're doing it.

*cough* gawker *cough*

I can say, without a doubt, this is the most frustrating aspect of many websites. If by script 4-5 I cannot read your article, see your video/pictures...I am gone and never coming back. Having to allow that many scripts in order for me to view your site is inexcusable.


Bears repeating. (The classy way to say "this")


If you guys use Seamonkey or Firefox, you should check out the PrefBar add-on .
One thing that you can add to it is a combobox to switch between freely customizable user-agent strings for your browser (I'm sure other plugins provide similar functionality, but prefbar is what I use for this and lots of other stuff).
As those sites still want Google to index them, adding a string for Google's "GoogleBot" and switching to it gets around a ton of crap like that:
Gawker will send you a version of its sites working without Javascript , a lot of sites redirecting to "please enable cookies and javascript" placeholders will work and especially with newspapers there's often no need to register to read the full article (e.g. New York Times) or access an archived one if you pretend to be Google.
 
2012-05-08 11:05:39 AM  
Vermicious Knids!
oi45.tinypic.com
 
2012-05-08 11:10:15 AM  

LDM90: The Pernicious Myths were awesome. I saw them back in '94. They played that fan-favorite, Slideshow.


I loved their set when they opened for Menopausal Sorrow.
 
2012-05-08 11:12:23 AM  

Litig8r: I doubt I've intentionally clicked an ad...


Bears repeating

MAYORBOB: There's only two type of slide shows I'll tolerate. One is a Boston Globe Big Picture slideshow. The other involves hot women in little or no clothes.


Bares, repeating
 
2012-05-08 11:15:51 AM  
You know what gets zero ad impressions? Ads that I've blocked, because I don't want to see your stupid music-playing, light-flashing, punch-the-monkey ads.
 
2012-05-08 11:17:28 AM  
Cyno01
I dont mind slideshows. As long as every slide doesnt refresh the entire page and the [Next] button doesnt jump around every page.


I don't mind those so much if they have a fallback which works without Javascript (which would refresh the whole page, but I don't care).


/ the amount of hidden requests to e.g. tracking services etc some of those not-refreshing-the-whole-page slideshows do can be impressive
// wish I remembered that site where each click on "Next" triggered 25-35 requests
 
2012-05-08 11:18:13 AM  

W C Feels: Don't forget the other reason for not putting all the content on a single page: dialup.


Baloney. The amount of data pushed to view a slideshow is much higher vs. a single page. If the reader bails out, sure, they drink less data, but if they stick it out, they've consumed more.
 
2012-05-08 11:20:40 AM  

imontheinternet: The only thing I hate worse than slideshows is having to run 2+ scripts just to see the text of an article and 4+ to see images and videos


Another noscript/notscript user I see. It's maddening trying to intelligently figure out which sources are going to do the trick.
 
2012-05-08 11:21:29 AM  
It's a fact that slideshows DO drive traffic... Away.
 
2012-05-08 11:23:47 AM  
MAYORBOB
There's only two type of slide shows I'll tolerate. One is a Boston Globe Big Picture slideshow.


There are Big Picture slideshows? Aren't they all on one page, one image+caption under the other?
 
2012-05-08 11:31:18 AM  
In before the "AdBlock is Murder!" trolls...
 
2012-05-08 11:32:13 AM  

W C Feels: Don't forget the other reason for not putting all the content on a single page: dialup.


What is this die..all..oop you speak of?
 
2012-05-08 11:32:57 AM  
JackAssHole
W C Feels:
Don't forget the other reason for not putting all the content on a single page: dialup.

Baloney. The amount of data pushed to view a slideshow is much higher vs. a single page. If the reader bails out, sure, they drink less data, but if they stick it out, they've consumed more.


The dialup thing is a valid point.
Not so much the total amount of data, but not having to load all the images at once.
 
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