on Jun 28, 2011
This was going to be a post about a couple of sci-fi reviews on Blip.tv. After ten minutes of fighting with the site and watching the same ad over and over, I scrapped that idea and now I’m going to rant about the service instead, because if Blip is going to waste my time I’m going to pay them back in bile.
Blip.tv sucks. Blip.tv sucks in numerous, infuriating and unforgivable ways. It sucks in ways which are carefully enumerated in the following list:
- I couldn’t embed these movies like I wanted to. I put in the embed code offered on their site, and got a blank white square here. Why? Maybe both of the content producers I was citing (Sf Debris and Red Letter Media) forbid embedding? I doubt it, but in any case Blip should have warned me, or said something, or given an error. Nothing. No idea why. YouTube does not have this problem.
- The same ad. All the time. Every time. YouTube seems to have some sort of smart system where it can tell how long it’s been since you watched an ad, and only plays one if you’re “due”. Blip plays the same ad, every time. If you want to watch the movie ON Blip from an embed, you have to watch the ad, then click through to Blip, then watch the ad again.
- Their servers are crap. If the streaming stalls (which happens more often than seems reasonable in 2011) you have to refresh the page to get it going again. Which means watching the ad, again. I notice the streaming ads never fail, which makes this feel like something insidious. YouTube does not have this problem.
- Pop-up ads pop up too often. In addition to the video ads that start every show on Blip, there is these pop-over ads that appear on top of the video every few minutes. It’s the classic sleazy visual spam: Big box, minuscule close button, and when you close it it doesn’t really close, it just gets smaller. And if you miss the five-pixel close button, you end up sent to the advertised site. Hope you weren’t in the middle of watching anything! (And when you come back, the pop-up is still covering your movie.) YouTube has a far more mild version of this problem.
- Pop-up ads are too big. Half the screen? Really Blip? That is the most backward and primitive 1997 way of thinking about advertising. Why not just give everyone a red & blue strobe rectangle that says YOU ARE VISITOR #999,999!!! CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE!!! I can’t watch my show while half the screen is covered by an ad, and since these pop up while the show continues to run, these ads are conditioning me to HATE the product. YouTube isn’t nearly as bad.
- Pop-up ads punish the viewer. When I dismiss a pop-up, it pauses the movie. I have to click the play button to get it going again. What is the point of this? The ad is gone. This isn’t helping anyone. It’s just an annoyance. YouTube does not have this problem.
- Volume of ads is far louder than the content, and the volume button is wonky. You can’t click & drag the volume, you click to invoke the slider, and then click again in the narrow slider to move the volume. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I suspect this is a sneaky attempt to trick me into clicking on the video ad. (The volume appears over the video, so a mis-click hits the ad.) YouTube does not have this problem. Sometimes videos are loud, sometimes ads are loud. I understand that you can’t expect all content producers to match a set volume level. But on Blip the ads are always speaker-blowing loud compared to the content.
The #1 response to this is that people tell me to use an ad blocker. This makes me sad. I’m a broke, out-of-work loser, but I still take great care to keep the ads on this site as non-invasive as possible. I don’t want to give anyone a reason to block my site. (Trivia: The ads here are now a non-trivial portion of my income.) So it really makes me angry to see sites like Blip engaging in practices that punish, annoy, harass, and trick users. People eventually get annoyed enough that they will install an adblocker, and the default behavior of an adblocker is to block EVERYTHING, not just the jerks. Blip is foolishly poisoning the well, for themselves and for people like me.
This war has been going on for a long time. Banner ads. Then came FLASHING banner ads that hurt the eyes. Then came pop-up windows. Then came interstitial ads. Then came pop-over ads. The came VIDEO pop-over ads. With each step, users have found a way to block or avoid the unwanted content. I think trends show that most users are willing to tolerate some modest level of advertising. It’s even welcome, to a certain degree. (Once in a while I see something cool or useful, or simply amusing.) The web advertising model can work, if idiots would stop polluting the web. Most people will accept a Word From Our Sponsors. They aren’t going to learn about ad-blocking until the ads are more of a hassle than finding, downloading, and installing blocking software.
I expect this sort of thing from MLM marketing sites, spamongers, malware distributors, and other sketchy places. But Blip.tv is apparently trying to present itself as a reputable company, and needs to start acting like one. “Annoy your audience until they leave” is a shockingly bad long-term business model. Sooner or later they will fold, and in their place they will leave a giant hole: Tens of thousands of people who used to surf the web openly and now do so behind the shield of ad-blocking software. Blip loses. The people who put content on Blip lose. The people who suffered through blip ads lose. The people who advertised on Blip lose. (I now hate that friggin’ Mexican Restaurant that advertises on Blip. The first time I saw the ad I was hungry. The tenth time I was annoyed. The fiftieth time I vowed to take a job there and do a Tyler Durden in the food.) Pretty much everyone loses.
This video hosting battle is very quickly turning into something akin to the Digital Distribution platform wars. One company has a vast majority of the market share, and the competition is a mess of spam, aggravation, incompetence, bugs, and short-sightedness.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.