Ad-blocking hurts

Bad advertisements make me wish I used an ad-blocker.

Noisy online advertisements wake up my sleepy family, disturb co-workers and interfere with telephone calls.

Thanks to them, I switch off my computer speakers. That means I miss useful audio cues.

An ad-blocker might be handy way of dealing with video commercials and annoying animated advertisements that dance across the screen.

But I’m not going to block ads

Advertising pays for the best stuff online. Without online advertising, we would have to pay for everything we read, hear or see on the Internet.

There’s nothing illegal or immoral about blocking ads. Ad-blocking isn’t killing the internet.

But it is damaging. It means publishers invest less in writers and other media. It means there are fewer jobs.

I’m a journalist. I earn a living because people pay me to produce words.

There are three ways I can get paid:

  1. Commissioning: People pay me directly to write.
  2. Copy sales: Readers buy a print publication or subscribe to an online title or go through a paywall.
  3. Advertising: Advertisers pay me when somebody reads my words and, at the same time, looks at an advertisement.

If you want to read online and you block ads, then subscribe to online paywall sites or start commissioning copy because these are the only two options over the long-term.

14 thoughts on “Ad-blocking hurts

  1. Don’t forget the security angle.. compromised ad servers can net a botmaster potentially hundreds of thousands/millions of new bots..

  2. case by case — if a adserver allows annoying flashing in my way adverts, then i block that server.

    So, when you pick an advertiser, pick an advertiser that doesn’t do that.

    random trivia: Google’s “don’t be evil” originally referred only to annoying adverts — they started with the idea that adverts could be un-obtrusive, and thus “not evil”.

    • Case-by-case blocking makes a huge amount of sense from a user point of view. There are a few bad cases I’d consider blocking – despite my general rule.

      I understand why people might want to block flashing ads – they’re as annoying as noisy ones.

      The problem with case-by-case blocking is most users set the default to ‘block’ – with many casually visited sites being penalised for the bad behaviour of other sites.

  3. They’re being penalised for doing business with an ad company that allows the ultra annoying adverts.. Those running the adserver, i’d hope, would be influenced if more websites took their business elsewhere (such as to google’s, which is strick on not being intrusive).

  4. oh, and as to flash – i don’t trust it. Adobe (and before them macromedia, which I’m concluding had the same dev team) have a horrible security track records. Not only do they make the most basic mistakes, but they make them over and over.

    Enabling flash on a case by case basis (i.e. only when i want to view the content) is a very good idea. Leaving it running by details, with the potential for all those security holes, isn’t good practise.

    I encourage people to only install flash in one browser. (maybe in opera, while using firefox for their usual browsing) – then they only see flash when they’ve chosen actively to view the page in the other browser.

  5. @Brenda – I have to say I also have doubts about Flash, long before Steve Jobs voiced his concerns.

    I see blocking Flash and blocking ads as two separate subjects.

  6. For many people (including me) the a priori value of a random blog post or news story is less than the cost of the potential of being faced with annoying, offensive or malicious advertising, so I block all ads by default and then only whitelist sites when I have a good reason to do so.

    The problem is the advertising, not the users. When I watch commercial TV in the UK I can be sure that the advertising I am exposed to will be limited in time, frequency and content, so I’m prepared to put up with it. If online advertisers were better at self-regulation then the need for adblockers would be virtually eliminated.

    • You point about self-regulation is valid.

      And if all online advertisers were better at self-regulation we’d be able to charge advertiser more per impression or click which also mean less need for intrusive advertising.

  7. Here is my problem. I never block ads, but I get random ads like this on popular video websites…

    What is this? This is a shockwave video that will play aproximately 100% louder then whatever video I am currently watching. Will I block ads? In this case yes. If the ad was simply a flashy moving one I wouldnt care, I would even look at it. But with this I MUST have a trigger finger on the mute button… or disable pretty much all plug-ins except the one I am using.

    • It’s bad enough when that happens on video sites. I hate it when I’m reading a newspaper site, quietly, maybe even at the dead of night. And a loud Shockwave video wakes up the rest of my household.

  8. Hey Bill – I just added your site to my ad-blocker’s whitelist, but I still can’t see any ads. Are you even running any on this site?

    My reasons for running an ad-blocker are similar to those that previously commented. Intrusive (full screen), annoying (flashing), and creepy (ads that follow me) are my three main reasons for running an ad-blocker. I only recently started to use one and after a while I forgot about it and then the web became a much more enjoyable place.

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