Thursday, April 24, 2008

I’m not your click-through monkey

I get that the business model for Yahoo! and their ilk is based—in part—on providing content to their users, serving ads along with that content, and charging advertisers for access to their users’ eyeballs. It’s no mystery, and I prefer it work this way than the alternative (the one where I pay directly).

Naturally, this model also means Yahoo! can make more money if their users visit more pages.

About a year ago I met a girl who worked for a site I won’t name and she discussed the site’s practice of revising news headlines on the fly in order to increase click-through rates. Maybe you’ve seen this yourself, when an article’s headline changes subtly to something potentially more compelling. No big deal, really.

That being said, this Pacman Jones teaser from yesterday’s Yahoo! main page is kinda ridiculous.

The “To which team?” link is such a blatant “click here” tactic. But this teaser is ridiculous mostly in that it so obviously helps them AT MY EXPENSE.

Sure, it’s a small expense. All they’ve asked me to do is click through and load the article, along with its ads. But the way they’ve handled it makes me feel like a piece of meat, present only to drive advertising revenue.

Why would a company purposely design interactions to make its customers feel this way?

The smaller teaser “Former NFL MVP released by team” is similarly annoying. Why not “Seahawks cut former MVP Alexander”? With both teasers, Yahoo! is intentionally withholding information—very basic information—that might allow users to make informed decisions about whether or not they want to click through to read the articles.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m growing increasingly fatigued with my Yahoo! mail account. The functionality of the latest version seems clunkier than ever. So perhaps I was already annoyed with them when this caught my eye.

Incidentally, I refused to click on the Pacman Jones teaser, assuming it was the Cowboys (it was) and knowing I’d get all the details from SportsCenter later anyway. And without feeling like somebody’s bitch.

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