Make Your Application Look Broken For Extra Ad Revenue

Here’s a slideshow on Wired featuring old stewardess photos. Want to see the uh oh?

Here’s the home page:

First image, slide 1
Click for full size

A standard usage pattern would be to click the next image link, would it not?

Slide 2
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So far, so good. But notice that the URL is not only tracking slide number, but also slideview. This number increments when you view a slide, regardless of which slide you view.

Now, click the next image button until you get to the tenth slide. Okay, good, here it is:

The tenth slide
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Now, click that next image link one more time:

Magic number 11
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What’s that? No image, only an ad? The right panel describes the image that you should see. The links at the top are to the same slide, with the slideView reset to 1. Clicking them will display the image. Clicking the thumbnail of slide 11 will display the image (probably, but more below):

Slide 11 as seen from the thumbnails
Click for full size

So what gives?

Well, apparently, someone has designed this slideshow application so that the user sees an advertisement after every tenth slide (slideView=11).

However, as they slavered after the 1 clickthrough in 50000 impressions, they failed to take into account the fact that there’s no feedback to the user that this ad is intentional. Notice that the right sidebar contains the text and the crazy links at the top both link to the image the user should see instead of the ad. However, instead of something comprehensible indicating this is a planned ad, the user sees something wrong with the application. Instead of looking at the advertisement (that 1 guy, I mean), the user looks to figure out what’s wrong and is distracted from the marketing that the slide show is sloppily serving up.

I spent too much time trying to figure out what’s going on here. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do, but what it’s supposed to do is stupid and ill-conceived. Someone should have thought that through, but I guess that costs money, whereas confused users are free.


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