Imagine you are reading an article about drone strikes in Pakistan, or about some other initiative of the American government against terrorism, and you are deep in thought about those problems. You keep on reading and occasionally you encounter a few buttons, yes buttons and not hyperlinks, that point you to some book about the subject on an online retailer’s website. They don’t appear on the sidebar or in some organized manner. They appear inside the article along with the text. Personally, I’d close that annoying ‘racket’ asap and switch to some other website which provides similar content without bombarding me with ads.
It seems the Washington Post has been experimenting with some similar advertising methodology recently. But if a statement made by a spokeswoman for the Washington Post to DigiDay is to be belived they have been embedding ‘buy-it now’ links in articles for many years.
I don’t know about you, but I have never encountered a similar embedded ‘But it now’ button in any of the Washington Post articles before. I might have missed out their ‘experimentation’, but surely someone would have noticed this kind of advertising if the practice has been going on for years, right?
The image on your left is a screenshot of an article titled ‘What divisive ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ cover says about books and readers’ (it could be found here) posted under ‘Style’ category on the Post’s website. I took that screenshot last night and when I went over to that article today, the button was gone!
I tried to find similar articles on the Post and I assumed since most of them (all of them as of now) would be pointing to books, why not look for book reviews on the Post? I mean, if they are really going to advertise about books, targeting book reviews would be their first choice. But it turned out I was wrong.
I looked at a number of book reviews and literature articles whose titles clearly indicated their content was going to be about books. But I couldn’t find any of the Buy It Now buttons in those articles. Such a shame.
Then I went over to Pando’s report, which could be found here, and it pointed me to another link where ‘Amazon button’ was embedded. It’s about a book called ‘Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé,’ by Bob Stanley.
So, this is really happening. It is not known if those buttons were/are being embedded by the Washington Post team or if the Amazon team has taken over the web presence of the Washington Post and are planning to eventually use it as a front for their ‘smart advertising’.
I have nothing against ads, they are necessary for dough-generation on teh netz, but this kind of advertising is just repulsive. The entire reading experience is tarnished when the reader is bombarded with embedded ads. It’s the Washington Post we are talking about here, when people visit that website, they expect quality content and not quality advertisements.
Do you like advertisement methodologies like this? Do you believe such ads will eventually start ‘affecting the content’ they appear in?
Remember, smart ads are called smart for a reason *wink*.