Ads kill performance and Ux

I’ve been working with ads like any web/app/web app developer. I’ve seen how much it can harm performance and User Experience, and I wonder where big companies are on this point.

Permalink to heading Disclaimer Disclaimer

Privacy is such a big issue, but let’s skip it here. I’m considering only performance and User Experience.

Permalink to heading You said Ads? You said Ads?

By adding some third-party scripts to your website, you allow other brands to use your traffic for advertising in exchange for money.

It’s not uncommon to find ads in various areas: top, side, bottom, interstitial, skin ads, etc.

It usually consists of clickable images, animated or not. It can also be a video.

Google is a major actor with worldwide services such as AdSense, Admanager, or Google Tag Manager. They are ultra-dominant in this business.

I know it’s a bit more complex than that, but that should give an overview.

Permalink to heading Buzzkill Buzzkill

Ads are part of the business. The problem is the current solutions.

Even if you have a robust architecture, advanced frontend optimizations, static cache, and other performance leverage, ads will probably kill them all, loading tones of external js, unoptimized assets, and sometimes worse.

It’s not uncommon to open a website and get more ads than valuable content. Some websites even hide content if you have adblock enabled!

When you open the network tab in DevTools, you see many external requests and kilobytes of JavaScript. In most cases, it harms the scroll experience, and you lose focus.

Permalink to heading Where’s Google? Where’s Google?

Shockingly, Google does not push better practices for ads, while the same company deeply enforces perf requirements for websites and apps, for example, with its core vitals.

Using Google Tag Manager has a significant impact on performance. Of course, it may vary from one website to another, depending on the usage. Still, it encourages non-technical people to copy/paste scripts that the website automatically loads, which can quickly turn nasty.

I sometimes get the impression this business is the Wild West where everything is permitted, including the worst practices. At the same time, websites and apps must meet ever-stricter criteria to get a decent score in web vitals.

Permalink to heading Conclusion Conclusion

I hope it sounds like a rant cause it is. If big companies want to raise the general quality, that’s great, but please don’t neglect ads.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has accelerated the shift to online spending. A significant part of the global economy is on Internet, and while advertising is a thriving business, it’s a colossus with feet of clay.