DF, among other notable examples, is living proof that advertising can be quick-loading, noticeable but un-distracting, and unrelated to the corrupting influence of pageviews.
I hold Gruber’s site in very high regard, but his assertion that ads from The Deck are living proof of an ad that is “noticeable but un-distracting” is pure hyperbole.
I reloaded that Daring Fireball article at least 50 times and grabbed screenshots of the page with every new ad shown — 14 in total. Of those 14 new ads, I tested each by looking at them one after another and I found that 7 pulled my eye immediately from the content to the ad. That’s not what I would call “un-distracting”. Fifty percent of the ads were distracting (albeit in a highly subjective test) — I think a better term for ads from The Deck would be: less distracting than any other ad on the web.
The problem that publishers face is that ads must be distracting to be effective. That’s why I hope Sullivan succeeds: he’s going paywall without ads. I wish more people had the balls to do that.
This is also where Gruber is getting tripped up with ads from The Deck: They are indeed great ads, mostly (there was one American Apparel ad that featured a nude woman only covered by a red bag — not offensive to me — but I’d be pissed if that was on my site) but no matter how great an ad looks, it’s still an ad. Ads are made to distract — even if just a little — it’s still a distraction.
So here’s hoping 2013 is the year that content becomes king and advertising is shown the backseat, or better yet, the door.