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I used to think it was always my job to make forms and interfaces as unobtrusive as possible. More recently, I've realized it is sometimes necessary to slow the user down (within reason) especially when I want them to stop and pay attention to something that is crucial.

I've recently been presented with a challenge with a client who makes his revenue off the obtrusive ads on the site. I'm not a financial guy, so my first reflex is to clean up the ad space, and get the users right to their content. On his end, it's the entire point to put the ads "in the way" of where the user would expect to see their search results.

Of course, surprising the user in this way goes against everything I believe in as far as UI/UX goes. This clients' site is used in a way that users come searching for one thing, get it, and leave. Given this business model, what kinds of UX improvements don't undermine his bottom line?

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There's no reason for UX to be a part of this project. It anti-UX. –  DA01 Sep 13 '11 at 21:20
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The most obtrusive ads are the most visible ads, however many people have trained their eye to ignore flashing obtrusive ads, to the point where people would unconsciously ignore your site's content if you create a content that looks like an ad. In reverse psychology, if you create an ad that doesn't look like an ad; people can't filter them out.

Try interleaving the ad with the search content and a slight highlight, but add words like "featured search result" or "partners" or even simply "advertisement" in small type so you don't actually mislead users to think it's an actual content, just make the ads subtle enough so they do not filter it out.

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Yes, this was what I ended up doing. I stole the idea from torrents.eu and other sites. –  ajkochanowicz Sep 13 '11 at 21:13
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I totally get the "put the business needs first" idea and I'm behind it -- but

Obviously, if customers never see any ads, then the business can't make any revinue, and eventually lose the incentive or ability to offer value.

In the very same way; if the customer can't find the content they were looking for; the site stops providing them with value, and they will stop looking at the ads that the business uses to derive value.

So, obviously, the ideal is the middle way; users shouldn't find it too hard to get to the content they are after, and they should see sponsored content along the way that is relevant to them.

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"Obviously, if customers never see any ads, then the business can't make any revinue, and eventually lose the incentive or ability to offer value. In the very same way; if the customer can't find the content they were looking for; the site stops providing them with value, and they will stop looking at the ads that the business uses to derive value." That's an excellent analysis. I think those are the two extremes here. –  ajkochanowicz Sep 13 '11 at 20:52
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Put the content in the main column and ads in the sidebar. Make all the ads fixed positioned and make them always visible on the site even if the user scrolls. If the content is too long, you can put more ads in the text as well. This approach should let you expose ads as much as possible and let users reach content right away.

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