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Finding Balance Between User Experience and Web Ads

In a post at Publishing 2.0, Scott Karp compares the advertising value propositions of Google and Facebook:

With Google, the value to users and the value to advertisers is perfectly aligned. Everybody wins.

With Facebook, if you read between the lines, it’s really the same value proposition as traditional advertising — advertisers forcing themselves on users, in a way that creates little or no value for the users.

As Karp notes, Google found a way to automatically “opt in” users by serving contextually-relevant advertising with organic search queries and individual Web pages. Value is automatically established because readers are seeing ads connected to their chosen topic.

Expanding on Karp’s point, there are two aspects of Google’s text ads that have always struck me as innovative:

  1. Simplicity — On the Web, a short and relevant message delivered at precisely the right moment holds far more power than a flashy ad banner.
  2. Lineage — The DNA of AdSense and AdWords is closer to editor-picked related links than the broad brand campaigns of traditional advertising.

Google used algorithms to establish advertising dominance, but the fundamental advertisement-user balance Google employs is a mechanism all content creators should keep in mind as they develop their own ad-based projects. Ultimately, effective Web advertising boils down to one simple question: How can ads enhance the user experience?

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