Microsoft Research looks at how annoying display ads can turn off web surfers

When you surf over to any website, the chances are good that you will encounter banner or display ads that serve not to attract you to to click on the ad but rather to turn you off from the product or service they are trying to sell you. In fact, according to a new paper co-authored by members of Microsoft Research, really annoying banner ads might prevent some people from going back to the website that displayed them in the first place.

The Microsoft Research blog has a summary of the paper, The Cost of Annoying Ads, that was co-written by Dan Goldstein and Siddharth Suri of Microsoft Research New York City, alongside Preston McAfee of Google. Part of the research involved a study of people who were asked to give their opinions on a series of real banner ads.

Here's a shocker: The ads above are considered annoying by most people, especially if they are animated.

It's not a surprise to learn that the ads that most annoyed the people who took part in the survey had a lot of odd animations and movement. The paper's authors state, "Complaints about movement or animation and how they distract from the content show there is a cost to users and publishers." Ads that look cheap or appear to be a scam were also not ranked highly, as were banner ads that contained graphics that did not relate to the product or service, " ... such as a dancing wizard in an ad for online classes."

But do showing these ads actually cost website operators money in the long run? The authors used Amazon's Mechanical Turk online labor market to select users who would be asked to categorize emails for a per-message fee. Microsoft stated:

Participants, who were free to quit at any time, were assigned to one of three different pay rates and were asked to categorize emails as “spam” or “not spam” in the presence of no ads, annoying ads, or innocuous ads.

The basic idea was for the researchers to find out how much money the participants would make if they saw emails with annoying ads compared to those who saw none and those who saw ads that were not annoying. Microsoft stated, "In the experiment, the authors found that they needed to pay people more than a dollar per thousand impressions to make up for the lost traffic caused by annoying ads, compared with showing innocuous ads or no ads at all."

This kind of research could lead to better ways of both creating banner ads as well as pricing those ads. However, we suspect that weird animations in display ads may be around the Internet for some time to come.

Source: Microsoft Research | Image via Microsoft Research

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Seriously, guys. You have GOT to learn that weird trick that an Austin, Texas mom discovered and insurance companies don't want you to know!

Skwerl said,
Seriously, guys. You have GOT to learn that weird trick that an Austin, Texas mom discovered and insurance companies don't want you to know!
lol I bet you read all about that from top to bottom.

Advertising is fair enough, as long as it is non-intrusive. Sites and apps don't pay for themselves.

What gets on my teats are the popup surveys which now appear on many many sites (Microsoft is a prime offender here). Seriously, **** right off.

I make it a point to purposely avoid any vendor that dumps adds on a page. Our local news station usually has about a paragraph of a news story surrounded by at least 15 ads on the page. I do the same for any company that advertises with overlays on my favorite TV shows. Some stations have so much crap over-laid that you can barley see the show you're watching. We really don't need 1/3 of the screen covered with your station logo!!! We KNOW what channel we're watching and STOP advertising upcoming shows to the point you stop watching the one you tuned into in the first place.

</rant>

I hate any and all advertisements! Most web ads are also animated, which is even worse. I just use Adblock in my browser along with a custom HOSTS file for Windows.

Does anyone ever click on ads? I think I have only once (accidentally). I've just naturally evolved to ignore them.

68k said,
Does anyone ever click on ads? I think I have only once (accidentally). I've just naturally evolved to ignore them.

That's what I was just going to post here.

I've been through the 90's popup hell, the epileptic fit inducing, the geo located adverts. This research isn't anything new. Google replaced their visual adverts long ago with text adverts and it worked great, and continues to do so for them. Microsoft here are just researching what Google have already been doing for several years now.

Still, I naturally tend to ignore them and if I try to think what was the last advert I saw... I can't honestly remember. I can't say I've clicked on one with an intention of clicking it for years now.

Even youtube's adverts on the videos, I'll click after 5 seconds without even bothering to or watch the advert and for the adverts I can't skip, I mute and switch to another tab. The video is pre-buffered and ready to go by the time I get around to the video again.
Other then that, there are sites like MSN.com, who's videos force you to watch a 30 second advert with no option to skip even though most of the videos there are taken from 3rd party news websites. I stopped watching ANY videos on MSN now as it takes more time to watch them then visiting several other websites and seeing them 'free'.

sagum said,

Even youtube's adverts on the videos, I'll click after 5 seconds without even bothering to or watch the advert

This is exactly what i do too and im sure many millions of other people, but the ad people continue to use conventional adverts, as in most of them dont even show you the brand or product in the first 5 seconds so it renders it completly pointless. Hopefully they stick to their backwards ways and die out

Google has image ads too, very annoying ones actually.

There are a lot of people who enjoy Google ads, and use them. And a lot of people are happy with these personalized ads.

However I'm getting sick of seeing a GODDAMN woman on her period talking about what tampons to use....
Or the unskippable 30second ads, an ad every single video almost. I always liked Youtube, but recent year(s) it is getting so horrible, I try my best to use alternatives...
but unfortunally, people all use youtube, many people are supporting this raping of the internet..
NO GOOGLE, not everything you do has to be for profits, you earn MORE then plenty. Sharing some of these profits back their users is a big NONO for Google. Giving us the YouTube of 3+ years ago would be great, but noooo, Google does what it can to make YouTube profitable.

I dont have those issues with Bing Video's, the only ads i see there are the ads of the video hoster, not Microsoft's.

I like how Microsoft uses ads, 90% of the time its about their own products anyways.
No ads during reading or writing emails on Outlook.com is something i certainly appreciate.

So says the company that put ads in apps in their latest operating system.

Other than that irritant, Ad Muncher for the win.

I consider the GIANT ads on top of Neowin extremely annoying. I can't tell what causes it but it seems to be caused by updates to the boards or Neowin's main page but it is very frustrating that I get logged out and have to see the ad.

I don't mean to sound like a complainer, but to be honest - it was fine, until someone introduced the pop-up ads on the login page... the place where your subscribers have to go to login after being logged out for whatever reason

Chsoriano said,
I consider the GIANT ads on top of Neowin extremely annoying. I can't tell what causes it but it seems to be caused by updates to the boards or Neowin's main page but it is very frustrating that I get logged out and have to see the ad.

I don't mean to sound like a complainer, but to be honest - it was fine, until someone introduced the pop-up ads on the login page... the place where your subscribers have to go to login after being logged out for whatever reason

Ad*****

Mr Nom Nom's said,
I agree; on this page alone I can count 6 advertisements - is that really necessary? really?!

Does this include the text-popup ads in the articles?
Those are the worst IMO, especially since it wont close when you move your mouse away from it.