This is my annual venting blog post. Hopefully everyone will agree.
I think it’s clear one of today’s largest fads is the obsession with online lists and surveys. Who doesn’t want to see the “Top 15 Cutest Pictures of Cat Anuses” or take a survey to find out “What Is My Spirit Animal”?
Unfortunately, some sites are taking peoples’ obsessions and turning them into self-serving piles of greed.
Now, while I totally understand the need to make money – we all have bills to pay – these sites take ad serving and self-promotion way over the line and should be ashamed of themselves (you know who you are):
Suggest.com is starting to pop up more and more with lists such as “15 Harry Potter Stars – Then and Now.” I admit I kill time with that stuff. It’s entertaining to see Neville Longbottom all suave now. It brings joy to guys like me who were hideous as young teenagers.
Going through the list should be fun, but this is what happens on Suggest.com.
A. You click the link and arrive at their site.
B. A million ads load around the title of the article.
C. You click “Next”. A million other ads load and 1/2 of the first item appears.
D. You click “Next”. A million other ads load and the other half of the first item appears. Suddenly, a video ad starts playing – with sound. You’re not expecting it and you yank your headphones off, shrieking.
E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z, AA, BB, CC, DD, EE, FF, GG, HH, II, JJ, KK……… By the time you’ve reached the end of the list, you’ve clicked at least 30-50 times. No exaggeration.
For those of you who have been annoyed by this but don’t understand why companies do it, here’s a quick run-down:
Sites such as Suggest.com get paid every time they present you with an ad. If you click 30-50 times, they get to load 30-50 ads – and get paid – every single time. Therefore, they’re making money at your expense. Boo.
2. US Weekly
A few days ago, I saw a link to Meghan Trainor’s new song. Yes, I was addicted to All About That Bass (stop laughing!). I mean, I have vivid memories of Mom telling me that people want a big booty to hold at night.
Naturally, I clicked the link and arrived at a page with a picture of Meghan Trainor and a “Play” button over her. I clicked it.
Instead of her song, an ad video started. The song never played.
Confused, I reloaded the page and clicked “Play” again. Another stupid ad. No video.
After analyzing the page, I realized they’d overlapped an ad onto the Meghan Trainor video. It was almost invisible, but clicking the button clearly launched the ad instead of the song. I clicked around a bit and could never find the spot to play the song.
That is one of the SHADIEST, CRAPPIEST ways to trick people out there. US Weekly is a gossip mag, but I’m still surprised they’d stoop so low just to make a little extra money.
Odometer.com presents fun lists related to cars. They had one recently about redneck cars literally taped together. One pic depicted shoes jammed into the tire well.
That’s as far as I made it. It took me 5 clicks to get to the second picture.
This site was very similar to Suggest.com. Ads load all over the place. Videos play – with sound – and wading through the experience is like pushing through a horse’s butt (not that I know what that’s like).
Ooohhh this one irked me, because you didn’t get the shadiness until the end.
By now, I’m sure everyone has found out which Friend they are (I’m Chandler), what color they represent (Red), and what their IQs are (a million!).
I needed to find out more about myself, so I took another quiz on a site called Vyped.com.
When I finished the survey, I got the following message:
Enter your e-mail address and we’ll send you your results.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you freaking kidding me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So you have to give them your e-mail address just to see your results (which virtually no other sites make you do)… SHAME ON YOU, VYPED.COM.
For those of you who don’t know, let me tell you why it’s shady.
By providing them your e-mail address, you’re giving Vyped.com – and their affiliates (which could be anyone) – the right to send you e-mails. By going through the seemingly harmless act of typing your e-mail address to see your results, you’re opening yourself up to tons of e-mails from different vendors. And it’s technically not SPAM as you gave them permission.
UPDATE: I have to give Answers.com some credit. Because they sort of began it, they must be the first to see how terrible the “annoy visitors” model is. And they’ve probably experienced a fair amount of backlash. I bet the drop-off rate of these sites is enormous (meaning people get tired of clicking so many times and just leave… and they stop coming back).
I say this because I recently noticed answers.com giving you the ability to “view all” so you can see the entire list without clicking a thousand times. They still get to serve me ads and make some money without ruining my experience. Kudos Answers.com!