If there’s one thing that brings the internet together, it’s hating banner ads. Mobile banner ads, in particular, inspire the kind of rage in readers only matched by Philadelphia sports fans (they booed Santa Claus, what more do you need to know?). When I see these mobile ads, it often feels like Best Buy is trolling me through my iPhone.
That’s why it was so awesome to read today that Yahoo, the godfather of banner ads, is ditching mobile banner ads to go all-in on native ads – “stream ads” in Yahoo speak – that live in its editorial feed.
In an ideal world, this switch would lead to a future where the only advertising on Yahoo is high-quality, brand-created content. But that’s not the case, thus far. Simply put, most of Yahoo’s current “native ads” are really display ads in sheep’s clothing. Here are two examples that just popped up on my phone:
You could easily argue these aren’t even native ads, since displaying ads for app installations differs from Yahoo’s standard article-driven feed. Paid content distribution widgets like OutBrain have quality controls to ensure display ads don’t just get dressed up like articles, so it’s curious that Yahoo is embracing this deceptive tomfoolery.
It’s a bad move, and I bet Yahoo will eventually realize reserving their stream ads for high-quality branded content is a win-win. Right now, Yahoo’s stream ads are cheaper than its display ads, which is absolutely insane and a direct result of their lack of quality control. If their editorial product improves, they’ll be able to charge much, much more for them.
Regardless of what Yahoo does, here’s hoping other publishers follow their lead by ditching banner ads for native ads, but actually do the smart thing and fill them with high-quality content. With any luck, banner ads will soon become a distant memory from the internet’s awkward phase, just like AOL chatrooms and Gunther.
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