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Last post Author Topic: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking  (Read 19346 times)

Lashiec

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Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« on: March 10, 2010, 03:47:40 PM »
On Friday night, Ars Technica decided to set up a system to catch those visitors running "a very popular ad blocking tool" (presumably Adblock Plus), which in turn would block those users, not allowing them to see any content on the site. As expected, shit hit the fan once the users stopped freaking out, and found out what happened (kinda expected for a tech-centric site) with the articles. So, on Sunday, Ken Fisher, one of the site founders, explained everything about the experiment, and the reasons for doing it. Nothing new there, expect for the fact that ads on many Internet sites now are paid on a per view basis, instead of clicks.

While the post sounds very reasonable, and no one is threatening to cut access to those running adblockers, many people think otherwise, and express so in the post comments. What's more, now the debate spreads to the rest of the Internet, as the post gets slashdotted (and probably digged as well), and people starts weighing on the issue, ranging from John Gruber noting the complexity of the situation to Tech Dirt telling Ars that it's time to evolve and stop complaining. Other people, like Scott Wasson at The Tech Report side with Fisher, painting a situation very similar to Ars Technica.

Screenshot - 10_03_2010 , 22_43_28_thumb.jpg

One of the most ironic things about the whole situation is that the same Internet sites that are supposedly replacing newspapers as major sources of information are also struggling to find sources of ad revenue, and many say that their business model is 'dead' and they should be researching alternative models. So, are 'old' and 'new' media sharing the same dying model? Fun.

I should note that all the arguments 'for' and 'against' have been beaten to death, even here on this forum, but it's always interesting to see the affected business expressing their opinion on the whole matter. Now, if the ad companies said something as well...
« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 06:56:38 PM by Lashiec »

Stephen66515

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2010, 03:52:09 PM »
This has been a long time coming.  Sites are getting annoyed that they get paid on a 'per view' basis, and nobody is viewing their popups.

Personally I dont have any addon software to block popup's for me, but Opera does a pretty sweet job (hence me not having external software to do it).

Seemingly, we are going to get punished for not viewing the ads...

Quote
If you have an ad blocker running, and you load 10 pages on the site, you consume resources from us (bandwidth being only one of them), but provide us with no revenue

Nobody ASKED you, nor FORCED you to provide us with information, so stfu moaning and get on with your life.  You wont be missed by me if I get blocked from using your website ^_^

Whats next?  We going to get an electric shock when we go make a coffee during TV show Ad Breaks?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 03:54:27 PM by Stephen66515 »

Lashiec

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2010, 03:58:02 PM »
As noted by Fisher in the post, the ad system is extremely reasonable, since they only have two ads at all times, most of them are static or lightly animated banners, plus the occasional Flash ad, which also messes up with Flashblock and NoScript, something that many readers took an issue with. So they're not exactly intrusive. If they switched to an aggressive popup system, I'm sure the heat coming up from the readers hate would be enough to accelerate global warming exponentially.

Stephen66515

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2010, 04:04:00 PM »
Quote
My argument is simple: blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical, or makes someone the son of the devil. It can result in people losing their jobs, it can result in less content on any given site, and it definitely can affect the quality of content. It can also put sites into a real advertising death spin. As ad revenues go down, many sites are lured into running advertising of a truly questionable nature. We've all seen it happen. I am very proud of the fact that we routinely talk to you guys in our feedback forum about the quality of our ads. I have proven over 12 years that we will fight on the behalf of readers whenever we can. Does that mean that there are the occasional intrusive ads, expanding this way and that? Yes, sometimes we have to accept those ads. But any of you reading this site for any significant period of time know that these are few and far between. We turn down offers every month for advertising like that out of respect for you guys. We simply ask that you return the favor and not block ads.

His argument is simple, yet completely wrong.

How can a website, not having advertisements affect its quality?  I personally know plenty who do not run ad's and it doesn't affect them, sometimes ads are highly irritating (like: Watch this video, but we are going to FORCE you to watch a 5 minute clip about kids in Africa), Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for giving third world country's money, but, just like the comments in the quote, its completely irrelevant and not a good argument.

He seriously needs to get a grip on reality.

Advertisements do not make a place good, and can only ever make a place bad (not ALWAYS, only usually)

DC has NO ads, is completely VOLUNTARY DONATION driven, and has some of the best content (IMO) on the Internet.

Lashiec

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2010, 04:14:32 PM »
In this particular case, the explanation is simple. Several people work on Ars Technica full-time, and even more are paid for their regular contributions. A lack of revenue from their usual streams would force them to either resort to much uglier ad systems, or to simply sell out, and start making highly biased articles in favor of this or other company paying them some good money. Sponsored articles, which are quite common actually, only that there would not be indication of such sponsorship anywhere.

In any case, to me the whole situation is simple. Like the site? Get on with the program. You don't like the site or the program? You're free to do what you want. Making things more complex would only throw everyone into a rat race, and I think we already have enough with music, films and now books and videogames. You can extract several lessons from those fields to know how to improve your current business and make your readers happy at the same time.

Stephen66515

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2010, 04:18:08 PM »
In any case, to me the whole situation is simple. Like the site? Get on with the program. You don't like the site or the program? You're free to do what you want. Making things more complex would only throw everyone into a rat race, and I think we already have enough with music, films and now books and videogames. You can extract several lessons from those fields to know how to improve your current business and make your readers happy at the same time.

Agreed...If people block, let them, if they dont, oh well, but dont punish those who like ad-free experiences.  If you don't like that, then put your premium content locked behind paid membership areas.

JavaJones

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2010, 05:05:22 PM »
When oh when will a good micropayments system come around?

- Oshyan

Stephen66515

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2010, 05:09:40 PM »
When oh when will a good micropayments system come around?

- Oshyan

Flattr

JavaJones

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2010, 05:39:20 PM »
Flattr? Saw it, wasn't impressed. It's interesting but not what I'm looking for. The concept is unique, but it's too different and difficult to grasp to see wide adoption.

- Oshyan

Stephen66515

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2010, 05:55:23 PM »
Flattr? Saw it, wasn't impressed. It's interesting but not what I'm looking for. The concept is unique, but it's too different and difficult to grasp to see wide adoption.

- Oshyan

How about one like here on DC? (I can see Lashiec's post going completely off topic now lol)

40hz

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2010, 06:04:44 PM »
When oh when will a good micropayments system come around?

- Oshyan


I'm guessing it will be shortly after the widespread adoption of bulletproof paywalls makes the existence of a workable micropayment system a necessity.

Say about 2-3 years from now?

The only problem is that the payments probably won't be that "micro" once it happens since there will be service charges added to the actual payment portion.


« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 06:19:30 PM by 40hz »

40hz

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2010, 06:16:07 PM »
Nobody ASKED you, nor FORCED you to provide us with information, so stfu moaning and get on with your life.  You wont be missed by me if I get blocked from using your website ^_^

Harsh words Stephen...kinda hard to have a rational dialog when someone says "stfu." Ken Fisher may (or may not) be wrong, but he's made a case that deserves to be heard and debated. :)

And also not completely fair. If people are visiting a site on a regular basis, they are by default "asking" to be provided with the information regardless of the value they assign to it.

However, I do agree with those who dislike people running with a 'guilt trip' line of argument.

There's an old Zen saying:

"When walking - just walk. When sitting - just sit. Endeavor not to wobble."

So my feeling is, if you want (or need) to be paid for doing whatever it is you do - then require payment for your efforts. And if it's not forthcoming - stop doing it.

And if you're primarily doing it for love, then (just like love) ask for - but don't expect reciprocation.

But whatever you do - don't wobble. ;)



« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 06:18:50 PM by 40hz »

Innuendo

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2010, 06:20:00 PM »
Ya know....I used to buy Fisher's "I'm just a poor web site trying to struggle and make ends meet" story until someone came along and bought Ars Technica from him for a cool $25 million.

Yes.

Read it again.

$25 million.

No one's going to lay out that kind of cash for something unless the money is rolling in & there's an almost certainty they are going to make that money back over time.

40hz

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2010, 06:27:57 PM »
@Innuendo -

Spot on!  I actually liked ArsTechnica a lot more before it became 'successful'.

I supported it in its "green &orange" days. I hardly ever go there anymore.

doctorfrog

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2010, 06:28:17 PM »
As sympathetic as I am to the folks at Ars Technica, I wasn't too happy at being a guinea pig for them on the story they put up. I just figured that the story had been deleted, and moved on.

If ad companies hadn't saturated every possible square inch of space on or off the net with eye-catching ads, tracking cookies, and assorted dirty tricks, there wouldn't have been quite the arms race between them and those who are capable of blocking them. As it is, this little darwinian struggle has produced best-of-breed ad blocking that just about anyone can use.

It sucks that places from Ars Technica to the New York Times have been caught in between these two forces, but this is their opportunity to be a little creative about how they get people to sponsor their news.

Ars Technica is one of the best sources for decent tech news coverage, and I wish them well. But this cute stunt hasn't earned them much sympathy from me. As one of the Ars community members commented, "Why didn't you just ask us to whitelist you in the first place?"

Also, Ars is a Conde Naste property now, I'd imagine that they're under pressure to perform, but they do clearly have investors, and they're in a better spot than many a web site out there.

JavaJones

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2010, 06:31:14 PM »
So my feeling is, if you want (or need) to be paid for doing whatever it is you do - then require payment for your efforts. And if it's not forthcoming - stop doing it.

Wholeheartedly agree. If the ads aren't working, adjust your profit model. If that doesn't work either, maybe your content isn't worth what you thought it was. There are still "bubbles" around on this here Internet waiting to burst, and if the content can't flow free, you will quickly get to the clearest measure of the value of your content to your audience...

- Oshyan

zridling

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2010, 12:28:41 AM »
I certainly tend to hang out at ad-free sites, be they tech, political, food, chess, home improvement, or porn. If I must "pay" for content -- even by the simple action of a click-through -- I'll go somewhere else. Nor will I pay for content unless it's something worth my attention, such as a Linux Journal magazine subscription that includes the web content.

My personal hell is going to a store or restaurant with music playing. I don't need your music to buy a hammer or to eat a burger. I don't watch any sporting events live, instead I use the DVR to skip the 2.5 hours of commercials to see the 60 minutes of play. Same goes for sites with flashing and animated ads. (Heck, I even turned off avatars here at DC because too many people were using animated ones which I find distracting when I'm trying to read.)

clippy2010a.jpg
Necessary or not, web ads are as annoying as Clippy once was!

Nor do I need your ads to read your [ars] content. News, and in this case, tech news, is replicated in seconds and can be found on dozens of other sites. The NYTimes.com is more famous for its plagiarism and poor fact-checking than unique content. If I visit, Adblocker is on full slay mode. If you can't make enough money in other ways -- as harsh as this sounds -- find a new model or do something else for a living. I'd like to get paid to philosophize, but outside of a university (or Plato's Academy), I don't know anyone who would pay for it. If you want cash, just ask. If I have it and I want your content, I'll gladly share some coin.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2010, 02:40:53 AM by zridling »

J-Mac

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2010, 12:57:38 AM »
I don’t mind reasonable ads. But what's reasonable? Google Ad-Sense text ads are fine IMO. Small images don’t bother me either. What I cannot abide, however, are Flash ads or any larger ads that blink bright colors at me. They're distracting. I also won't stay on a page where the content is in a narrow column in the center and is surrounded by columns of ads on each side that take up more real estate than the content itself. I abhor self-starting videos, with and without the ability to pause or stop them. And I can't stand audio suddenly blaring at me from an ad somewhere on the damn page!

If content providers would refuse such ads I would turn off my AdBlock Plus on their sites. But they usually cannot or will not turn down the revenue and so I block. And if they in turn block me, so be it. I can deal with that.  :)

Thanks!

Jim

cmpm

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2010, 02:43:09 AM »
Sounds like their site is for the ads,
not ads for the site.

f0dder

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2010, 04:40:02 AM »
I've actually unblocked Ars Technica - it's one of the few decent sites with quality information. Imho their argument is reasonable, and "Nobody ASKED you, nor FORCED you to provide us with information, so stfu moaning and get on with your life." is imho a spoiled brat attitude.
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Bamse

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2010, 04:50:44 AM »
Not the worst site regarding ads but they made big mistake here since they join forces with stupid marketing based sites, like some newspapers! who won't even give access. Those who just don't understand or value users. Their point gets lost. White listing or not is a test of relationship between site and user, they should deal with it - expect losses.

I like Lifehacker which have mentioned adblocking methods many times. How-tos etc. Very relaxed. Some sites, forums don't even want this mentioned. All about the money, revenue so control of user behavior is high priority. The guy who make Adblock Plus is also open to more "fair" adblocking http://adblockplus.o...-to-fair-ad-blocking Dark forces are marketers and old timers ;) As Linus Torvalds say about Windows they should have been shot in the head 15 years ago :)

cmpm

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2010, 05:18:07 AM »
I can get on Ars Technica's site with adblock plus.
No problem so far.....

Lashiec

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2010, 05:22:31 AM »
D'oh, I knew I forgot something. The experiment only lasted 12 hours, so since then, Ars Technica content is available to everyone as always.

f0dder

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2010, 05:43:11 AM »
As Linus Torvalds say about Windows they should have been shot in the head 15 years ago :)
I'd rather have Linus shot in the head 15 years ago - perhaps then we could have a Windows alternative that didn't suck :-\
- carpe noctem

Josh

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Re: Ars Technica on the problem with adblocking
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2010, 05:52:17 AM »
I will gladly put a no filtering entry in any ad removal program I use for sites that I truly enjoy and have TASTEFUL ads. Betanews is an example of a site with tasteless ads. After removing their ads, the pages become so much more readable, less lengthy, and overall easier to work with.

DC is a site where, if ads were present, I would gladly put in a no filtering entry and let them display because A. I support the site, B. I know the ads would be non-intrusive and not slow down my work/browsing and C. I want to give back.

Some sites, I feel like I just being bombarded with ads trying to get me to spend money or earn the site money and I feel that is the only purpose. To that, I take offense. I feel like I am just another 10cents to them for the view and not a user of their website.