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"Half of our users block ads. Now what?"

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Relax. We're still friends.

Last month, I learned that the primary way we support Destructoid was quickly shrinking due to a browser plug-in: the ad-blocker. On the bright side, it brought some closure on why our ad checks never quite kept up with perky site traffic or growing bandwidth bills.

No, I'm not going to chainsaw your face for installing an ad-blocker. Chances are, though, you understand that blocking ads denies us some coffers and you probably feel a little bad about it, but all ads intrinsically annoy you. That's okay. Still, it is enough for me to say that it's a problem facing my site and other sites like it, and a few weeks ago, I started to appeal to readers to whitelist us -- that mostly failed.

Is asking for nickels the best way to future-proof a gaming site?

"Almost half of your readers block your ads. We don't think we're mistaken."

--- End quote ---

Read more here

To me, I think this is becoming a real problem for websites that rely on ad revenue. I feel this mentality of block all ads and force site owners to find new ways to generate revenue ties back in to the entitled generation, as I've called it in the past. People who believe everything should be free and that they are entitled to information, software, movies, games, music...all for free because it is their right or because they feel they are being "screwed by the big organizations/outlets".

Now, let me preface this with the fact that I am not referring to those who block ads on sites that are completely obnoxious, attempt to mislead with fake download now buttons, or require you to sit through 10-15 seconds of an ad before you can proceed. I am talking about sites that legitimately put up non-intrusive ads and adhere to a set of ethics with regards to how ads should be displayed to the users. I routinely allow sites to display ads to me that I support, that do not attempt to mislead or annoy me, and whose content I find to be reputable and valuable. That said, I will not unblock any site that performs any of the aforementioned things.

What do you think? Are the days of online ads numbered? Are we moving to a content-based society that will result in subscriptions for basic information? Yes, there will always be the free news site, but eventually, as they gain in popularity, the need for funding will arise and I am certain that the thought of ad-based revenue will be discussed. Heck, even donationcoder/mouser has experimented with ads.

What do you think?

I'm not against ads on sites, and I don't block them.

However, I have no sympathy whatsoever.

The way I see it is that it's not about the ads --- it's about Big Data and privacy issues. Things have simply become TOO intrusive.

Intrusiveness kills sympathy.

It is EXTREMELY rare for me to click an ad or allow a video ad to play through. I even go out of my way to find the site for the ad without clicking it if possible. If they weren't creating profiles and all that, well, it would probably be a different story, and I'd probably be willing to click ads that interest me. At the moment, I'm not willing to participate.

I think ad blocking originally emerged in response to widespread abusive practices on the part of many who were relying on web advertising for their income. I'm sure we all remember that miserable period when pop-up (and the pop-under) ads were pretty much the norm. So taking a high-handed tone and blaming the victims of prior abuse is more than a little disingenuous AFAIC.

And while it's true that many sites never played those games - or have since learned the error of their ways - they're now discovering that consumer trust is a very real and fragile thing. Especially when it comes to the web. So even though the notion of 'entitlement' very likely drives a part of the ad blocking mentality, it would have never become such an issue if so much web advertising hadn't been allowed to become so intrusive and annoying in the first place.

Right now, I think ad blocking is done more out of habit than anything else. At least that's the case with me. When asked (politely) not to block ads by those websites I regularly visit, I almost always exempt them from being blocked. However, sites I don't regularly visit, or that have an excessive (IMO) amount of annoying advertising are SOL.

I don't really know what to suggest to the webmasters who have to deal with this issue - other than offer some tough love and say: if people aren't willing to pay to support what you're doing for them - and you can't afford to continue it out of your own pocket - then maybe it's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

This is a hard reality everybody involved in any creative activity (music, drama, literature, art) has to deal with every day. And as site producers and content providers, website owners fall into that same category. Something often referred to as "starving artists".

I suppose there are a few alternatives to advertising. You could charge a membership fee, solicit donations - or best of all - sell your own product. I never have a problem with people advertising something they make themselves. But I tend to be much less appreciative of 3rd-party advertising. Especially if it's totally unrelated to anything I might reasonably be visiting the site for in the first place. And I also find any sort of history tracking to be personally offensive and morally repugnant. But that may just be me. I get crotchety about the littlest things sometimes.
  ;) 8)

There are ads, and there are irritations. Anything that moves on a web page (other than videos which I specifically press play on) is a source of distraction and/or irritation. So I block them all without any conscience suffering.

Blocking just the animated/irritating stuff is more work then I intend to put up with, so I use universal ad filters such as fanboy's list or easy list. If non-intrusive ads are collateral damage, so be it.

Sounds like I am not the only one with no sympathy. :-)


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