December 5, 2021

Why We Shouldn’t Block Ads

(originally posted on Shoutwire, reposted here for archiving purposes)

It seems I can’t open up my RSS reader lately without coming across an article about online advertising. It may be simply because my job title has the word “marketing” in it, but it’s hard to deny that the talk about ads has been ever increasing.

Whether it’s ISPs inserting ads into Google or simply replacing ads on webpages with their own ads based on your browsing history, I’ve been seeing lots of articles pop up lately.

In addition to the naughty things ISPs are doing, there’s the whole debate over things like the adblock plugin for Firefox.

Some have even gone so far as to say that blocking ads should be illegal – that it interferes with what the publisher wanted you to see and deprives them of revenues.

Obviously this won’t work. How do we police ad viewing? Do we send cops to your house to make you watch commercials instead of going to the bathroom?

While I find this idea absurd, I do believe that users have an ethical reason for not blocking ads, as well as a personal greedy reason to view them as well. Lauren made this point in a comment on one of those links above, but I’d like to expand on it.

Wait, did he just say that it would somehow benefit me to view ads? Yes, yes I did. Here’s why:

I’ve long taken the position that Adsense is NOT a business model. In fact, I’m pretty against showing ads in a lot of cases (like this.) Anytime a 3rd party like Google can totally eliminate your revenue with a single key press, you’re better off looking for a way to diversify your business. It doesn’t make sense to (pardon the marketing speak) keep all your eggs in one basket.

Still, despite being a very poor choice of business model, many sites choose to adopt it. I can understand that too, as there is a lot of money made from ad based sites. I know, I once used that faulty business model to make about $50,000 /year for 15 minutes worth of work. Maybe that’s why it’s so tempting.

Regardless of why or how, that’s the way the web works now. Look at all your major sites (this one included.) Gmail, Youtube, MySpace, Facebook, etc. They’re all ad based.

That’s where the problems with adblocking or replacing come in. If ISPs continue to swap out ads, the sites lose money and seek out more extreme annoying ads, or start looking at other ways to make money.

The same goes for adblock. Shoutwire isn’t free to run, and you can bet you’ll see changes if the day comes that the ads stop making enough money to cover the site costs.

If Firefox and IE were to suddenly start shipping with adblock turned on by default, we’d see a web3.0 revolution. Every ad-revenue based website would go kaput.

We’d be left with a “pay as you go” web. You’d see companies charging per email you received. You’d see monthly subscription rates for Shoutwire, and Digg. You’d see signup fees for MySpace and Facebook, or possibly pay per bulletin.

Is this the web we want? Right now we have tons of content available to us for free, yet many still bitch about the advertisements they show. Sure, we’d like to get it all for nothing, but by doing so we may just be damning ourselves further down the road.

If you run a website, now might be a great time to explore a non-adsense based revenue model. For the rest of us though, I say it’s time we stop blocking ads and start shocking the monkey, exploring the benefits of the x-10 camera, and taking more perfect lover quizzes.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com

Comments

  1. Well thats friggin stupid.This is the worst article ever!Ads can be Porno-Related.So shut up and there bad for our computer.Good sites have now turned bad.Take Petitionspot for example.It was once a Good site for Petitions, know its a perfect place for Pop-Ups.