Online Advertising After the Bust
If you think today's Web ads are in your face, wait until tomorrow's barge in. In 2001, when I was an editor for Inside.com, I proposed a column on why Web advertising didn't work. My boss approved the column, but by the time I'd written it, Inside.com had gone under, in part because it hadn't taken in enough advertising. Usability experts have been heralding the uselessness of online ads since at least April 1997, when Jakob Nielsen wrote -- and gave evidence showing -- that only the top 0.01 percent of websites could take in enough advertising to make a business of it. "Banner blindness" was what worried online advertising agencies back then. It's six years later, we've seen boom and bust, yet one thing has not changed: Advertising is still the overwhelming source of revenue for many sites, even profitable ones like the highbrow NYTimes.com and lowbrow Drudge Report.