When you type a URL into your browsers address bar, you expect to go straight to its homepage, right? Thats why it drives me nuts when I encounter an advertisement first (see screenshot below). This is happening more and more lately. I even have seen this several times when visiting the New York Times homepage, though its somewhat unpredictable as they must use a more sophisticated cookie approach than Cnet.
On the other hand, ads that pre-load media content dont bother me. Below are two examples, one from Cnet and the other from Hulu. Both videos load an advertisement first, but what I appreciate is that they also provide a time countdown to when the video you actually want to watch will begin. Knowing that I only have to sit through a few seconds of ads at the outset makes me much more likely to wait.
With Hulu content, the longer the video, the more ads the viewer must watch. Notice that on this screenshot, the white dots that appear on the videos timeline indicate when the show will pause for a commercial. I find this completely tolerable, but I wonder if it is because Ive always associated commercials with television viewing. One thing that gets bothersome with longer content is that Hulu plays the same commercial over and over again throughout the video rather than varying sponsors. Hopefully theyll work this minor kink out. If you have to sit through commercials, variation makes the experience much more tolerable.
Going back to the first type of ad, I wonder why I have such a hard time with them but not with the pre-loading ads on Cnet or Hulu? I think the difference is that if I click a link to an individual piece of content, like the video review on Cnet or the TV show on Hulu, Ive made a specific type of decision where my expectation for the content is higher. However, if I simply go to a website, even if I go there regularly, Im not certain that there will be any particular content Ill want to experience until Ive had a chance to scan through the page. Im pretty likely leave if nothing interests me, which is why encountering an advertisement before Ive even had the chance to scan for content of interest is frustrating. I hope this is an advertising practice that dies out quickly.