Content versus Ads

My wife and I have been season ticket holders for the University of Texas football team for years. No, I’m not here to talk about a 1-2 start and a painful rebuilding process.

I’m here to compare the usage of space between the real world and the online world.

Like most stadiums, Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium has a jumbotron. The current version was introduce in 2006, and measures 25 meters tall by 41 meters wide. For about a week, it was the largest high definition television in the world.

We quickly dubbed it Godzillatron.

The problem is that most of the screen is used for advertisements, not showing the game or replays. We began referring to it as Adzillatron.

Here’s a picture I took walking into the stadium before the BYU (I know. Don’t start with me.):

Click on the picture to see a larger version.

While this was taken before a game, it’s the same layout that’s used throughout the game. As you can see, much of the screen is taken up with advertisements.

I thought it would be interesting to compare it against a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). I choose the keyword:

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Huge city and very competitive keyword. Google would have no shortage of potential ads to fill the space.

My screen was set to 1280×1024, and I expanded my browser to fill the screen. Here’s the SERP that resulted from the search:

Then, I categorized each section of the each picture into one of three buckets:

Content: Directly of interest to the viewer/searcher. Either about the game or free search listings. I included the map as content.
Advertisement: Some paid to get onto the screen.
Other:: Everything else. Navigation, building name, etc.

Lastly, I calculated the number of pixels used for each of sections, totaled them up, and compared them against the whole.

Our beloved Adzillatron was 66.18% Content and 22.51% Advertisements. To be honest, I thought the ad percentage would be higher.

The Google SERP was 29.04% Content and 21.46% Advertisements.

So, as a percentage of the whole, each has about the same amount of advertisements. But the Google SERP has a great deal more space devoted to navigation and white space.

If you’re looking at content versus advertising strictly, Adzillatron is about 75% content, while Google is about 60% content.

So, what’s the point? Not sure there really is one, but I thought it was interesting to compare something that has so many ads that we make fun of it with something we see every day.

Adzillatron doesn’t seem to have so many ads, at least in retrospect. Maybe we should go back to calling it Godzillatron.

Note: Carousel results have much less space dedicated to advertisements. Perhaps that’s why they seem to be going away.