The Case for Web Ads Killing Themselves – When It Makes Sense To

While stuck on an Amtrak connecting bus, the not-so-intelligent person next to me managed to pull out a sandwich he undoubtedly brought over eight hours ago. Being a perpetual mover, I have seen this before… oh, so many times. The gleeful person thinks that they’ve accomplished something by keeping the biohazard of a stale sandwich with them all this time, and now intends to reap the rewards.

As they unravel the sandwich, the pungent odor of spoiled mayonnaise and meat instantly fills the cabin. Gag reflexes ensue – to all around – except for the owner… who is tripping on the dopamine high of knowing that they will enjoy that disgusting thing, that used to be a sandwich. I’m just glad the diarrhea sets in long after I’ve disembarked.

Why am I telling you this? Because as this was happening to me, I tried to pull out anything short of a flask, that would dull this experience. Having only my phone and a set of earbuds with me, I tried to crank iHeartRadio to 11. I had an EV-DO (3G) connection, so things should be good, right?

Wrong. The experience was ruined by a web ad that couldn’t play, because the connection wasn’t measured in megabits. I had a strong enough signal to stream radio. But not enough to stream the mandatory web ad. The app then hung there, for minutes until I force closed the app and relaunched it.

Stuck sitting there was an obnoxious still frame of Bank of Whoever. What do you think I feel about Bank of Whoever at this hour? Not great, I can tell you that.

Now, I know it’s not Bank of Whoever’s fault. It’s iHeartMedia’s fault for not doing a bandwidth test – and skipping the ad because of a poor connection.

And that is my lesson to app developers for the day. Ads can backfire, and your app can stink, if you try to cram too much through a narrow pipe. You can do connection speed tests in real time. If the ad won’t work – don’t crash the whole experience to try and make a buck. In the end, you might lose a customer… and you certainly will irk a customer way more than the penny or two that ad play would have gotten you.

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