Intentional Content Delivery Disruption on Large Websites

Every penny counts when it comes to online advertising, especially as you scale.  My friend Ala sent me a link to a “Quote of the Day” page on Time.com.  It was similar to these “photo of the week” pages where your friend sends you a link to one, and you end up looking at 10-15 weeks worth of photos using the next button.

But after I had read a few interesting quotes, I noticed that one of my pages failed to load correctly.  I didn’t get the quote, or picture displayed–only the banner ad at the very top.

A lot of the web is chintzy, especially sites like MySpace that have trouble scaling and sometimes do a poor job processing requests from users.  I think a lot of people have grown used to this and have no problem reloading or “clicking again” if it looks like something isn’t working correctly.

But what if this was orchestrated.  According to Alexa, Time.com averaged 2.7 million pageviews a day over the past three months.  What if Time decided to load only a banner ad, rather than expected web content on one out of every 1000 page views. That would be 2700 displays of pure advertisement, without expected content each day.

I would guess that the CTR (click through rate) on these pages would be far higher than on pages with the expected content.  The only stats that would need to be measured is whether people left the website from pages with intentional content delivery disruption at a rate significantly higher than they do normal pages.

Enough people read the site that the scheme could be targeted only towards users who have not received     an intentional bad page load.

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