• Category: Latest News
  • Written by Rick Ellis

This Is Why People Hate Your Website: TV By The Numbers Edition

While TV By The Numbers began its life as an independent website, it was purchased by Zap2It, which is owned by Tribune Broadcasting. I mention all of this because this type of ad-crammed disaster of a page is usually reserved for sites hawking nutritional supplements or tips on how to make $5,000 a day from the comfort of your home.

My criteria for picking a site to feature on "This Is Why People Hate Your Web Site" isn't scientific, but it does reflect an average person's experience in visiting a web site. I have a Windows 10 netbook I use when I'm working at my local Panera Bread. If a page is so filled with video, ads and other crap that it locks up or slows down my computer to a painful crawl, then something is very wrong with the user experience of the page.

I won't get into the relative editorial value of "Disney Channel Movie 'The Swap' Gets October Premiere (Exclusive)," but I will note that this a 129-word story on a page that includes about 50 paid advertising links of various types and sizes. Plus video. Lots of video.

The first thing you notice when you visit the page (see screenshot above) is that you can hear video autoplaying somewhere on the page. But where is the video located?

Surrounding the story are 10 ad units from Taboola, a company that is essentially a middleman between the people who run big web sites and the people who want to convince people to visit their shady web site de jour. A company like Tribune gets money from Taboola for including the ad units on the page and Taboola extracts money from advertisers who want access to the Tribune readers. Aside from the annoyance factor for readers (and as you can see in the screenshot above, the repetition of the ad units), many of the links are a bit misleading. 

For instance, the "Shark Tank Star" link takes you to this page on an "advertorial" web site called OneSmartPenny.com. The article quotes "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran, who advises readers to "take advantage of the cheap money!"

Star of the hit TV show Shark Tank, real estate expert Barbara Corcoran shares 3 crucial rules on how homeowners could save thousands of dollars and pay off their mortgage faster -- just by taking advantage of today’s "ridiculously low interest rate."1

Notice that "1" at the end of the paragraph. That's just one of the footnotes included in the article and it's telling readers that in fact the Corcoran quotes came an interview she gave to Yahoo. The story is just written to appear as if she's suggesting readers should take advantage of low mortgage interest rates by visiting another web site called TheEasyLoanSite.com.

It turns out that both of these sites are owned by Bills.com, a marketing leads generation company that makes its money by getting affiliate fees for each person it sends to one of its marketing partners. So to recap, TV By The Numbers has a Taboola ad that suggests Barbara Corcoran is giving advice on where to shop for mortgages, which then sends readers on several other web sites in an effort to generate a lead from a mortage company whose only qualification is that they are willing to pay for the lead.

I mention all of this primarily to show the dangers of using ad services such as Taboola. Yes, you're making some money, but you also have no control over where your readers are being sent.

But now let's get back to the ad load on this page:

Well, at least there are a few links to actual editorial content in the right sidebar. But there's also another round of ads, these in text form. The left column of links are the ads and the right column is links to other Zap2It content.

Ah, there's the auto-playing video ad. It's just below a Google Adsense ad and the video is a week-old 30-second clip about the closing of a Macy's store. It's not clear to me why it's on the page or who paid to put it there. But as an FYI, that box in the right-hand sidebar is also a video window, which seems to be set to play once at some point during your visit.

And then we come to another ad unit in the right sidebar, along with three larger Taboola ad units.

This section is five links to other TV By The Numbers pieces, along with another ad unit. The interesting part about this is that some of the links go to stories that are a bit old, which makes me think this section isn't updated all that frequently. For instance, the "Straight Outa Compton" link above goes to a story from July 19th.

More links and another video ad unit. Although I'm beginning to think they don't care if anyone even looks at the stories, since the WWE ratings piece is from June 28th.

And then the page finally ends, with a final Google AdSense banner.

One last thing. This piece isn't a reflection on the work of Rick Porter, who write the piece on this page. He's a fine journalist and he's not the person making the decisions on how much of an ad load should clog the pages of TV By The Numbers. I'm all for media companies being able to pay their bills. But not only is a page like this a terrible experience for readers, it isn't doing the advertisers any favors either.

"This Is Why People Hate Your Web Site" is a new feature that takes a look at some of the worst reader experiences we've found. Send your suggestions, complaints and comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..