Oh internet advertisements. Never particularly been something people have been thrilled about (does anyone ever like the idea of a commercial?), but still so many terrible ones exist online. So here's a quick guide of sorts to some types of ads you probably shouldn't be using on your websites if you want to maintain respectability and get a significant amount of traffic a day.
1. Pop up ads
Yeah, everyone knows this by now, but it seems far too many webmasters are more obsessed with quick cash than the happiness of their visitors and use them anyway.
If you need a good reason why not to use them, how about this Alertbox column? It's pretty old now, but it's still accurate enough in regards to how many people hate pop up ads:
That's literally that 95% of people asked said they responded to pop up ads either negatively or very negatively. Do you really want to annoy 95% of your audience?
Yes people have better internet connections, and no they still don't want an annoying pop up opening a new browser window the minute they enter or exit a page. You do this, people will leave your site and never return.
Is the potential of a little bit more cash that important to you that you'd be willing to lose most of your visitors?
2. Interstitial ads
If you don't know what I mean here, basically it's something akin to this:
Above: Logo removed to protect the innocent
In other words, whenever you go on a page, you randomly end up seeing a whole page ad you have to wait through/click past to view the content you actually wanted to see.
Do you really need a reason this is a bad idea?
Well here's one. People online want information quickly. They don't have infinite time and they don't like their precious time being wasted.
If someone has to wait for an ad or click past a filler page to reach the content they are actually looking for, there is about a 90% chance they'll just go elsewhere. If so, congrats. Guess who won't probably join your forum or click on your advertisements.
So yes, don't use these, they merely drive away otherwise interested visitors and potentially lose you more money and activity than you'd otherwise get.
3. Ads that hover over the page
Or just cover up the actual content until you find and click a tiny X icon hidden about a mile off screen.
Again, people go to websites for information, or to be part of a community. Anything that gets in the way of the content is completely counterproductive to this and will annoy a significant portion of your members.
Want to know what I mean? Here's an example:
Above: I go to a website to read interesting content. I don't like giant objects covering that content.
And there are a million more things people will find annoying. Ads that cause the whole page to 'peel' away via some annoying flash based gimmick. Ones that literally move across the page from one side to the other with animation. Any flash banners which cover up the whole page if you accidentally hover over them. They may apparently make money, but I severely doubt that's from people liking them. No, I honestly bet most money made from these ads is people mistakenly clicking on them when they wanted to click on a link on the actual page or something.
Don't use them.
4. Talking advertisements
Oh God, I absolutely hate these types of ads when I'm browsing a website. I'm just going along looking at random content, heck maybe it's about eleven at night and most of the street's asleep at the time when all of a sudden:
Hi, I'm the president of [boring company name here] with an offer you cannot resist!
Our brand of washing up liquid can help sort out your broken down dishwasher!
Or if someone really hates their visitors:
Go compare! Check it out go compare!
And all of a sudden, the whole house is now awake, your neighbours are probably muttering about how that rude so and so next door has woke the up in the middle of the night and the dogs howling due to some stupid commercial that started auto playing at will!
You know exactly why these things are a bad idea and will drive away visitors. Namely:
A: People often have music playing or another video going on in a second or third tab/window. They don't want your lame commercial interrupting it without warning.
B: Browsers make it a pain in the ass to figure out which tab or window the sound is coming from and cause extra annoyance as the person has to not only find out the sound's source but also how to disable it.
C: People have a life outside of the internet and don't want it disturbed by unprovoked sound effects.
So no, don't ever have advertisements that start automatically playing sound the minute someone loads the page.
Oh, and one more thing. This video is a good example of exactly why auto playing sound effects are a terrible idea:
Above: Keep in mind that unwarranted auto playing sound effects can lead to someone being killed or seriously injuried.
Admit it, you can think of at least fifty ways someone viewing that site could end up in trouble.
5. Fake windows alert boxes and prompts
You know the ones. The type often used to try and trick unwitting internet browsers into installing malware on the PCs, and that often say something like 'your PC might be at risk, click for a free scan!'
Above: Examples of bad banner ads, from MSN
It should be obvious why these are a bad idea (association with illegal content and viruses and the fact they're designed to trick people into clicking them), but you should also keep in mind these are actually illegal in some regions.
For example, I'm fairly sure that these types of ads are illegal in the European Union and court cases have been brought against companies that use them in the US. You do not want your site to be seen as allowing this kind of banner ad or advertising in general.
In addition to this, don't use the stupid 'are you sure you want to leave this page?' alert whenever someone tries to leave the page, because I can tell you now that most people will never, ever return to a website that does that.
6. Ads awkwardly mixed into the site content
I already mentioned this point in my previous article on what not to do on your website, but I'll state it again. Don't try and just mix advertisements in your site textual content.
It isn't convincing, and it makes you look like a spammer.
Above: Do either of these look like they belong on reputable sites?
People don't buy it. Instead, people will just go somewhere else where they can read the same content without having gambling ads shoved in their face every two seconds. Don't use this kind of advert on your website or forum.
7. Advertisements with immature or adult content
Doesn't it really make the site professional looking if you browse random pages and find pictures of half dressed women staring at you from the side of the page? Or maybe when you see a giant banner ad saying something like 'shoot the ducks for a free iphone!'
Above: The mark of professionalism
No, no it doesn't. There's a reason Evony is seen as the joke of the gaming world, because it advertises with just this style of trashy banner ad. And merely hosting this kind of ad makes you seem like a shady, unprofessional individual running a trashy website due to how often these are seen on scam websites and others with often illegal subject areas.
Maybe they're okay if your site is actually dedicated to adult content, since at least they'd be somewhat relevant, but generally you should avoid using anything that's not work safe in your site's banner ads unless you want your image to be seen as well, crap.
Avoid them. You ideally want your forum to look somewhat professional and these ads do the exact opposite of that.
So yes, those are seven types of ads not to use on your website or forum if you want to look professional and avoid driving away your visitors. Admittedly ads aren't as big a deal as they used to be, seems most webmasters now have learnt to stop using many of the annoying ones shown above, but it doesn't excuse the fact a stubborn few still put them on their sites and annoy away much of the activity as a result.