Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

It’s Always Adverts

As millions of users scramble to see where to place our social alliance in the next wave of locked platforms, there is an opposite movement. Existing social networks are investigating how to attract new users but seem destined to put their foot in it by ruining their service. One after another, services change major features, or their whole app, searching for revenue. Forgetting everything that set them apart in the first place and ruining lots of the user experience. All in desperate need of ad revenue.

You don’t have to look very hard to see how much can be generated by showing your users tailored adverts. Despite every user hating them, gigantic companies with ridiculous income are built on the back of them. The king of the hill and the admiration of others in the market is Facebook, who rakes in more than $110billion a year, with all of it being, bar a minimal percentage, from adverts.

Although social networks that don’t and won’t show adverts exist, such as photo sharing app Glass, there is no denying that showing adverts is vastly more profitable. You only need to look at Netflix and the realisation that ad supported users provide more income than paid ones. As soon as this becomes reality, the service is destined to be ruined beyond recognition and dissolve into a regular TV network, over the internet.

Social media upstart from 2022 BeReal is in a bit of a tailspin and currently testing the ability for users to post twice more a day. A move no doubt motivated by the reduced time that their users interact with the app per day. The max two-minute scramble to post during the allotted time is simply not enough time to sell users things, and that cuts the earning potential down dramatically. In return, turning their app from something different and quirky with a unique take, to a worse Snapchat.

While we’re on the ephemeral messaging app, it seems they are loosing themselves in the pursuit of ad revenue too. Once Snap employee and current stockholder Ellis Hamburger tells their tale of fighting the good fight inside the company. As they put it, “trying to make Snapchat different from every other social media app” only to become aware of the thirstiness as a death knell to what makes it great. As they search for more and more engagement, to show you more and more ads.

This isn’t exclusive to mobile apps, either. Adverts have ruined the web as a whole for as long as most of us can remember. Why did we bring this print-based mentality to the web? Covering every inch of spare space on your nicely designed web page like you did the spare inches in the editorials. And the news stories. And the buildings. And the beaches.

Like an invasive species, adverts ruin everything. They take up space where they shouldn’t be, they track everyone around the web. They try to sell you things you don’t need, and now they are changing your favourite apps and ruining services because they pay the most money. Advertising dollars are like a siren’s call that cannot be avoided. You can tie yourself blindfolded to the mast of your ship as long as you like, but once you succumb to their call, they strangle the life out of great things and make them suck.

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