- Ted Gill is the Chief Product & Innovation Officer at Fandom powered by Wikia. Do you have any questions or feedback for him about the future of advertisements on Fandom? Read this blog (Part 3 of 3) and then leave a comment!
We've talked to you a lot about advertisements this week and how they should be better on Fandom. In our first blog, we gave you a basic overview of how ads work on the site, to set up the concepts we would be talking about in this conversation. Our second blog took it a step further and talked about how we have already made improvements to programmatic ads, the most common form of ads online. Today, let's talk about direct ads—where we work directly with clients rather than third party ad exchanges—and our vision for how to improve ads on Fandom even more this year.
Quality Over Quantity
As previously discussed, we are shifting towards having more direct ads on Fandom pages. Direct ads are consistently higher quality than programmatic ads because we work with our clients to create a better experience. Where programmatic ads are sent to us by ad exchanges, direct ads are most often created by our internal Design team in collaboration with the advertiser. We want the best possible ad experience on our site, and our clients understand that great ads mean that more people are likely to see them, delivering better results. Just like on a wiki, collaboration generally leads to better results.
Direct ads also tend to earn more revenue for Fandom. As a result, having more direct ads will allow us to have fewer total ad placements on a page. These custom-built direct ads are often larger and high-impact, taking a larger portion of the screen when they initially appear or present a video front and center. That's one of the reasons they bring in more revenue—ensuring users see an ad is one of the most important things to an advertiser.
By removing a number of programmatic ad placements in favor of direct ads, the balance between content and advertisements, as well as the technical performance of a page, is improved. As time goes on, we will have fewer programmatic ads on our pages. The combination of better technology and more rigid partnership selection, which we talked about in our previous blog, allow for more attention to the total impact of each ad placement.
Programmatic ads will never go away completely, of course, especially in countries and regions where it's more difficult to arrange direct advertising. It all depends on where we have a direct ad business, which we're continuing to expand. Even so, there are high quality ad exchanges that do an outstanding job of screening out bad ads and have an increasingly global reach. Google's ad networks, which have banned Flash ads and continue to enforce other high standards of quality, are one example. Other companies, like Rubicon, have also emerged as leaders with regard to quality by exploring new ways to allow users to communicate with them and better curate their own ad experience. Fandom will also continue to use its leverage as a Top 100 site and make it clear to all partners that our users deserve the best possible experience.
We'll also explore new ad experiences to determine what might be viable alternatives. For example, what if you could watch a single video and then have an ad-free experience for the next 24 hours? That is one of many tests we want to run and understand what makes the most sense. Evolving our ad experience is a top priority, and we'll continue innovating to create a better user experience.
Making a Commitment to You
Fandom is making a commitment to improving the ad experience in 2017. Right now, there are too many ads on the site. We want to stand out as a site that delivers value to advertisers without sacrificing the user experience. It's possible to do it, and it's something that's overdue. Your outstanding content deserves no less than the best possible venue.
We know that it takes more than just words on a blog to do that. We have to deliver on this commitment. So we do ask for your patience and open minds as we continue to push this effort forward. We look forward to checking in on this throughout the year. Please also let us know when you encounter an ad that causes you problems, and encourage your community to do the same.
Acknowledging the Reality
Throughout the week, we've had great conversations with you in our previous blogs. Some of you mentioned that you don't like some of the direct ads that we use, such as video ads or banners that expand to cover some of the page. That's understandable—there's a reason they're called "high impact" ads, after all—but it's important to stress that these types of ads are the standard in the ad world. They are also the way forward in cleaning up the ads on Fandom. Without direct ads like these, in order to maintain our revenue, we would have to clutter the page with programmatic ads of varying quality and performance standards. If you're thinking about page performance, as we are, then that level of programmatic advertising would only serve to decrease page performance. It would also continue to be a cluttered experience, with too many ads littered across the page. That's exactly what we want to avoid.
It's also important to acknowledge that the existence of ads is a fact of life for free-to-use websites like Fandom. The use of ad blockers is increasingly common, and it's a challenge for the entire ad-supported web world. Recently, we have done some small-scale tests of messages to users who are running ad blockers to see what types of appeals are most impactful. But we're very aware that users who disable their ad blocker, only to find the experience no different than what they began blocking, will remain wholly unconvinced. So this is another area where we have to deliver on our promise.
How does all of this sound to you? Do you have any questions or feedback about the direction we are heading in? We're all extremely proud of your communities and we're excited to chart this path forward with you, so please continue the conversation in the comments!
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