Ok, we get it. Banner ads are how you pay the bills for hosting your site, and the rate you can charge for them has been dropping year after year, which means you need to show more ads for the same amount of money. Which brings us to the latest trend: articles that could be all on one page, split up over 20 or 30 pages so that the user has to click next every couple of sentences (or even after one picture with a one-sentence caption).

The Page One extension for Chrome and Safari replaces the broken up pages for some popular sites with the single page version.

The Page One extension for Chrome and Safari replaces the broken up pages for some popular sites with the single page version.

Stop doing this.

First off, it doesn’t work. Sure, some people are going to click through the entire article and you’ll get to show all 30 of your ads (otherwise you wouldn’t be doing this). Other people are going to click in, see the “page 1/30”, and click back. You got your one ad impression, just as if you’d put the entire article on one page, but you’ve also ticked off the user, who isn’t going to even think about linking to your content. Do it enough times, and users are likely to start actively blocking content from your site.

Second, it doesn’t work. If you’re irritating a large portion of your users this way, your click-through rates are going to drop, which means the amount you can charge for call to action banners will drop, which defeats the purpose of splitting up the article in the first place.

Third, it doesn’t work. Writing this post, I’m trying to recall what the last banner ad I saw was advertising…and I can’t. I don’t have an ad blocker installed (popups are another story); like most users, I just barely notice them. Even when I do, they’re generally either irrelevant or for something I already purchased –¬†after I bought a cat tree a few years ago, I got advertisements for the model I’d picked (on the site I bought it from!) for the next month. Advertising can be useful to the user (and thus profitable for you) but random Google ads on a page with almost no relevant text probably aren’t.

If you have a 20,000 word article, fine, split it up into pages – that’s actually helpful in case I need to bookmark the page and come back later. But 20 words on a page? Throwing a big picture next to the words doesn’t excuse you for creating a poor usability experience.