“Wow, that was a cool ad” is not something I say often. But I was recently browsing Wookiepedia, a Star Wars Wikia site, and when I clicked an external link it popped up a half-screen interstitial for 15 seconds before redirecting me to my destination. Instead of cluttering its site with more ads, Wookiepedia let me bounce around internally for free, but “charged” me to leave. And I was impressed.
Advertising is the lifeblood of the consumer Internet. It finances content and utilities so they can be free and widely accessible. But too much advertising and the user experience degrades. No one wants to sift out value from a sea of marketing.
Exit traffic ads seem like an elegant solution. They can take some ad strain off of a webpage and encourage more intra-site browsing. Depending on their implementation, they’re not that obstructive. On Wookiepedia, at least, you can click a “Skip this sd” button to go straight to your destination. Otherwise you can ‘x’ an ad out or click “Want to go back?” to return to the page you were browsing. You can try it yourself by going to Wookiepedia and then clicking one of the “Official Friends” links at the bottom.
Some people are going to hate these because they throw up barriers too open web browsing. I understand that. But I think they give businesses design freedom, so they can create a pure on-site experience by offloading the clutter.
I want to see more of these exit traffic ads. I feel like they’re a smart alternative or complement to standard display media. They can be big and glossy, and the format ensures they’re noticed unlike most banners. It feels like a fair value exchange, too. A site points me towards something I want to check out, so I don’t feel so bad seeing one of their ads for a few seconds on the way out. I like them a hell of a lot more than the entry traffic interstitial ads that roadblock many content sites (*cough* other tech news blogs *cough*). It might even encourage sites to link externally more often.
I can imagine exit traffic ads finding a place on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. These sites are obsessed with design and the onsite user experience, but are keen on new monetization strategies. This ad format could reward them for being content discovery engines, and make them more willing to open gates out of their walled gardens.
[Image Credit: Love And A Sandwich via Craftster]