According to the Wall Street Journal, some publishers are now adopting a "less is more" approach when it comes to the ads they host across their sites and that stripping out the most annoying ad formats can increase consumer engagement and actually increase revenue.
For example, LittleThings, a digital media firm specialising in content for women, decided last year to remove at least one ad format from its site every quarter.
These included autoplay video ads, content recommendation ads as well as interstitial ads – those full screen ads that cover the interface of their host application – leaving the company to rely mostly on display ads, user-initiated video ads and sponsored content.
Justin Festa, Chief Digital Officer at LittleThings, told the Journal that having fewer ads helped boost the performance and value of the ads it had kept.
What's more, revenue generated from each user's session grew 38% in June, compared with the same month in 2016. "Users view more pages, share more content and are generally more engaged," he said.
Festa explained that LittleThings decided to remove content recommendation networks from its site entirely, partly because they contained increasingly "shocking and disturbing images".
The company has also done away with outstream video ads, which can annoy readers by playing between paragraphs of text, after concluding they confuse users and have a negative impact on engagement and sharing rates across the site.
Dotdash, formerly About.com, said it is taking a similar approach to LittleThings across its six sites and, like its counterpart, has stripped out autoplay video ads and content recommendation ads.
"We are leaving money on the table on an individual visit basis but, overall, being thoughtful about things like this we think is a material driver of the growth of our brands," said Neil Vogel, Chief Executive of Dotdash, in reference to the company's belief that creating a better user experience will increase revenue in the long run.
Meanwhile, Adam Singolda, CEO of content recommendation network Taboola, likened websites with too much advertising to the cluttered billboards of Times Square. They've become "at times as chaotic and disorienting," he said.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff