(Project 365 Day 295)
So I was reading this WaPo article about "sworn virgins" in Albania, women who take an oath, dress and act like men, and thus gain the social status of men in otherwise traditional areas where women have few rights. Fascinating article, but that's not what this post is about. :)
There was a video link on the article, and I clicked it. I was presented with a 15-second "pre-roll" ad that I couldn't skip. Why are those so annoying? I hate them much more than banner ads or even interstitial ads. I hate more than TV commercials, too. I hate them so much that I'm liable to just close the window and forgo watching the video just so I don't have to watch the pre-roll ad. (And it's not just me.) It occurred to me that they remind me of button-based walk signals.
I grew up in San Francisco, where all the signals are on timers. When you arrive an an intersection, the signal sometimes says Don't Walk, but sometimes it already says Walk, or it's at least still flashing. Also, with few exceptions, the pedestrian signals are synchronized with the normal traffic signals.
I went to college in Boston, where most of the signals use those button-pushy things. Even when the light for cars is green, the walk signal is sometimes still red, because that allows cars to turn more smoothly. At many of these intersections, when foot traffic is light, the light is always red when you arrive. And I found this really annoying! Other people seemed to as well, because people seem to violate walk signals a lot more in Boston than they do in San Francisco. It seems only fair to have to wait some of the time when you get to an intersection, but it seems unfair to be forced to wait every time you get to an intersection.
I think my psychology is similar when it comes to pre-roll ads. With TV commercials, as I switch channels, I sometimes have to watch a commercial, but I usually don't. Most of the time, I get to see some content before I have to see a commercial. Imagine if, every time you switched the channel, you had to watch a commercial before you got to see any part of the program. Television would be a most frustrating experience then. But that's precisely the experience pre-roll-infested web videos present us with.