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Progressive intrusion to encourage registration?

I plan to release an application suite that will be ad ware supported.  This is a data analysis product, so it will take some time for the user to learn.

Ads will be displayed in the upper left hand corner, and the users will be required to click them once in a while to maintain the software's free usage.  Nothing gaudy, just noticeable.

There will be an alternate registered version allowing the user to pay a fee, thus releasing them of all ad click-through requirements (and suppressing the ad displays).

For those who opt for the ad ware version, their contributions requirements will slowly increase.  Over the span of 12 months, their click-through requirements may go from 1-2 ad clicks a week, to a max of 9-10 ad clicks a day (these are just rough estimates).  The user will not be informed that the ad ware version usage requirements may change.

There are several things that this model helps me to achieve:

1) The user helps support the software, even though they haven't directly registered it (by them clicking the ads).

2) The progressive click-through rate slowly intrudes more and more on the user's daily usage with the software so that hopefully they end up registering.

3) The progressive click through rate hooks the user in the beginning (the little time needed initially to maintain the click-through rate), but with the increased nagging of maintaining a click-through rate (after months of usage), it forces the user to think hard about registering.

Any thoughts?  I think that if the intrusion subtlety increments, it could be successful.

Thinking Hard.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Do you really need to use mandatory click-throughs?  That reminds me of those old "free internet" service providers (like NetZero) who either went out of business or abandoned that business model.  (Is there any software on the market today that still uses this model?)

A mandatory click-through requirement sounds like a great way to antagonize your users.  Also, my guess is that it won't endear you to advertisers -- if the user is clicking through just because he *has* to, it's not going to generate a sale for the advertiser. 

Have you considered just using ads without any click-though requirements, and then charging advertisers for every (non-coerced) click-through?

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, January 29, 2004

You want me to click on what to use what? No way. Showing me adds is one thing MAKING me click them is quite another.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Ugh.  Pass. 

Joe Blandy
Thursday, January 29, 2004

This sounds too complicated!  A user might not complain about having to view ads but the process will likely drive them batty.

Have you thought about embedding a browser into your application and showing the ads, as necessary, right inside the application (skipping the click part)?  You could do them like intersessional web ads.

Occasionally, pop an ad in front of the user.  At the top of the ad put:

"This application is unregisitered"
So they know why they are getting the ad.

"Please register to remove the advertising from this product and support its development."
So you can get some registrations.  Of course put a link or button to register the product right here.

"Click here continue"
So they can quickly skip the ad and continue working.

This might be more intrusive or it might be better.  I don't know.  Opinions anyone?

Almost Anonymous
Thursday, January 29, 2004

I agree with Joe. I find your scheme distasteful, and have no desire to help you execute it.

Exception guy
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Doesn't work.  Back when all of those products were the vouge, people found ways around them.  Myself and my Office mate when I was working in Redmond wrote a nice little Windows app that picked off the messages requiring click throughs.  If you're looking for messages, we'd simply send them to your client instead.  If your software is popular, everyone will have one of these.  It'll be a constant battle between the hackers and yourself.  Then the advertisers will get bored because they aren't making any money, and next thing you know, neither are you!

Take some lessons from Fog Creek.  As Joel quoted earlier, he estimates something like 95% of users download his trial application before the real deal.  Just make your trial application significantly useful, but crippled to the point where it makes the user want to pay for full functionality.  It's a delicate balance, but adware is as bad as spam in my book.  All it does is leave a bad taste in my mouth.  Not something I think you want to leave with potential customers.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Unless the application is an example of changing behavioural patterns of users by giving them negative feedback - i.e. they go look to use another program.

Then by all means do what you say.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

>> Occasionally, pop an ad in front of the user.

Almost Anonymous, you're just trying to run this guy. POP UP AN AD?? Really.

The user is getting his work done, and you pop up something in his face. How encouraging.

Thinking Hard: my thoughts

Don't make the ad frequency increase with time. The user will slowly build adversity. In his mind, "if this program keeps getting more hostile, one day it'll quit altogether, or refuse to save, or whatever. I should get my work done soon before it blows up in my face or something, and then uninstall the fucking thing."

I suggest a steady, unchanging rate: say one clickthough per day, period. AND the guy can click it ANY TIME he pleases during that day.

That way he knows he has a small chore he can *schedule* whenever he is free from work and able to take a minute. Hell, he might actually be interested in the website since there is no psychological discomfort.

If you show the user respect, he'll respect you back.

For crying out loud, exclude the possibility of flashing ads, it at all possible. If the advertiser provides an animated GIF, just show the first frame, or rotate them at 1/100th of the normal speed.

No popups! I swear if my life depended on a piece of software I'd still delete it if it popped stuff in my face.

Side question: how large a user base do you expect to make clickthroughs actually worth your while?

Nothing wrong with trying to make a living, good luck with it!
Thursday, January 29, 2004

One of the problems is this is also deceptive to the advertiser. These are FALSE clicks. Yes they're unique visitors to your site, but they're NOT people who were drawn by your ad.

Advertisers & users will be pissed.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

This sounds like the television model.

Did you know that ads now take up ONE HOUR out of everythree spent watching TV? Only 10 years ago, it was a mere 24 minutes.

I guess this is why I stopped watching TV without TIVO. TIVO good. Ad man bad.

Also, you'll get the same # of registrations as CBS gets free will donations from viewers.

Double Ug
Thursday, January 29, 2004 all depends on how valuable your application is to me....if your data analysis software would cost me $10K out there or give me something that I cannot get out there ('Eternal youth and a bill gates bank account to use it') and I can get it for free by clicking 7-8 ads it would probably be worth it.

For something worth under $500 I would not mind seeing ads but hell not I will not allow myself to be forced into clicking them. What if you decide to show only porno you think I should be forced to click through them>?

The schema you are proposing is more insidious for one reason that you do not want to tell the user that the click requirements increase as time goes by. Now if I have lot of data in your will lock me out if I do not agree to your progressively worse terms and that to me is a big no-no. I will not want by data locked in by someone in such arbitrary manner

Code Monkey
Thursday, January 29, 2004

If you were a jerk with this kind of click-to-use ad scheme, I'd have no compunctions with going to a warez site and finding the crack for your stupid software.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

">> Occasionally, pop an ad in front of the user.
Almost Anonymous, you're just trying to run this guy. POP UP AN AD?? Really."

Hehe.  Hey, if you think that forcing a user to click an ad is good (which will popup anyway) then I submit that it's slightly better, in terms of usability, just to popup the ad yourself!

What I do get is this: "This is a data analysis product, so it will take some time for the user to learn."

This sounds like a serious application and not something for the masses.  Nothing sends the message "unprofessional" more than ads.  It seems to me there should be a better way to handle a trial version.

Almost Anonymous
Thursday, January 29, 2004

> Nothing sends the message "unprofessional" more than ads. <

Good point, AA.  To the original poster, why not just dispense entirely with the ads?  At best it will annoy your users and add an additional layer of complexity to your software.

If the problem is a difficult learning curve, then just offer an extended "demo" period -- like three months instead of the customary 30 or 60 days.  Then make your users pay for the software.

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Give out demo keys rather than a fixed trial period.

I was evaluating a product with a 30-day trial period.  I installed it but I didn't get much of a chance to use it during that period.  It was easy enough to request another demo key and get another 30-day trial.  In case you are wondering, I did eventually purchase the product.

Make sure, when the trial expires, that you provide the user a quick means to request more time.

Almost Anonymous
Thursday, January 29, 2004

If this application is something that you actually want people to load and STAY at, you really can't provide links.

One of the biggest problems with links on web browsers is that people follow them, and once they've clicked, they keep clicking.  once you've lost someone's attention, there is zero guarantee that you will get it back.  Moreover, just by distracting them, you've already given them the impression that your product is very inefficient.

if your application is something that will be used in an office, I'm guessing that giving people an excuse to stop working WON'T play well with management.  taking it a step further and forcing them to stop working will do even worse.

if this is something that you want people to use in their spare time, asking them to leave and then come back may not be wise.  once you get distracted at work, how long does it take you to get back on task?  (I think this is a fair question if you're posting on forums :-P)  I bet you can be sure that most of your users don't come back quickly unless your product is *really* cool (ie: a multiplayer game with 3d graphics and/or a source of free money). 

the three best strategies that I've come across for registration purposes are 1. limiting functionality  (ie, you can't spellcheck until you get the real version), 2. 30 day trials, and 3. short click-through demos that don't let them use their data but show off functionality and look and feel.  The problems with #1 is that you're likely to piss people off because they'll feel entitled to use everything, and that you'll risk seriously wasting people's time (no matter what you do, LET THEM SAVE -- losing data breeds hatred).  The problem with #2 is that if your product is mediocre and/or overpriced, they probably won't come back.  The problem with #3 is that it takes time on your part, and you have to be clever to come up w/ sexy scenarios.... but overall #3 is my favourite. 

Personally, I think that using ads in business-related products is tacky -- I wouldn't trust or buy a product that did that.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The "drug pusher" business model: users spend ever-increasing amounts to get the same benefit.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

I just had a nightmarish vision.

I was working in MS Word and it had an animated gif at the top.

Every time I saved, I got this popup telling to register, and Ok and Cancel were always swapped.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

You can use Microsoft Office, but you must go though Clippy to do every task from making text Bold to saving your documents.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

that.... is.... hilarious.......
Thursday, January 29, 2004

>> Occasionally, pop an ad in front of the user.
Also, every once in a while, uninstall a random piece of software till they upgrade to the full version.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Thank you everyone for your comments. The adware model doesn't appear to be as good as an approach as I had earlier thought.

One point I failed to make; the product I am developing is an add-on product for another application.  Why is this important?  Because the base application already utilizes an ad-ware based model.  There is a minimum click-through that the end user has to maintain (it's extremely low). The userbase (50K+ a month) is already used to this model (most don't register; the author makes most of his money through advertising), so I thought it would be an easy transition for them. 

Thinking Hard.
Friday, January 30, 2004

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