March 12, 2010

So anyway, this website I visit reckons that I suck (well, not me personally, we've never met, but in a Venn Diagram I would be in the "suck" balloon...) because I block their ads. They've now written a detailed guide to not blocking their ads.

Which I don't really want to do. I'm still turning this over in my mind. What do you think? On the one hand, ad blocking exists for good reasons - web ads are more often than not an intrusive, resource hogging, waste of eyeball time that can compromise your system. And arstechnica is pretty clear that they aren't able to negotiate NOT accepting intrusive, resource hogginge wastes of eyeball time. (System compromise may or may not be included.) On the other hand, am I just trying in search of a higher moral justification for selfishness? If, at the end of the day, ad blocking makes me a bad person then I can live with that. But I am curious to know what other people think.

  • Block away, I say. An advertiser getting my attention is a privledge not a right. The advertisers are paying Arstechnica only for the opportunity to reach their audience. If Arstechnica is in this for the money then they should charge for their content and if the product is good enough I would happily pay.(although my wise old grandma always said "Nobody buys a cow when you can get your milk for free)
  • *edit "privilege" sorry it's early here.*
  • Ad blockers wouldn't work if they wrote the ads into the copy of their articles. That would be equivalent to the method used in movies. We just saw a lot of BMWs racing around in The Ghost Writer. It's a pretty safe bet that Polanski got the free use of a lot of these nifty cars out of the deal. In fact one of the BMWs is an important character (The GPS with the lady's voice), essential for the plot. Similarly McClure's Whiskey might be a ad-junct (heh) in Jeff Bridge's portrayal of Bad Blake in Crazy Heart... Although Pabst Blue Ribbon, his 'barley pop' got some notice too. Finally, from Arstechnica's own article on Intel's Atom computer chip, they admitted "there are plenty of niggling bugs (especially where add-ons are involved) that require hacks and workarounds." Ad blockers might be one kind of workaround, but again inserting the product INTO the articles would work just fine. And doesn't our vaunted news do this all the time, slanted with opinions masked as objective journalism? Those opinions are really PR for some agenda or other - maybe even Rupert Murdoch's...
  • I block ads because the web looks like shit without an ad blocker. I do not block text ads, just banners and flash and that kind of junk. I don't mind ads, per se. I do get pissed at ads that are so obnoxious that they detract from the site. It doesn't need to move, make noise, etc. and quite honestly the more annoying the ad the less likely I am to react favorably to the product. I don't get pissed at ads in a magazine, because they just sit there and I can skip them. Commercials on TV I can mute. The only option on a web site is to block them. Making the ad more annoying is not going to make me turn off my ad blocker, either. Interstitial "wait 20 sec and view this before the movie plays" ads are OK, a bit annoying but reasonable. Even better are the 5-second "Brought to you by..." ads prior to a video. Stuff that pops up and covers up the content? Horrible, unconscionable and enough to make me swear off the product for life. Product placement ads might work for video sites, but as text they aren't great: Better to have Google-style text ads on a sidebar. Blocking me from seeing your site because I want to block your ads? Screw you. There are millions of sites on the internet. Nothing makes me look at yours. Driving down visit numbers is not a good way to convince anyone that they should pay you for ad placement in the first place. And this isn't even taking into account the cross-site scripting vulnerabilities that can crop up when a host site allows an advertiser to drop in content...
  • I don't block ads. I like to know who is supporting the messages a website is presenting; it is often illuminating. If an ad is overly obtrusive or annoying (like those that auto-play video or expand over the content), I complain (most often in the comments, it's easier that way). If the bad ads are still there the next time I visit, I stop visiting (which I warn them when I complain). I've seen a few places change their ads or even their entire ad policies because of complaints... NOT because of blocking. To me, that's the way to fight against obnoxious advertising, and sadly, it's not happening enough. Because people have ad-blockers. I recently saw a banner on one of my favorite webcomics that looked like a pharm ad - shocked! - took a second look, it was a parody for a pill ad that was promoting the book of collected comics - evil, but appropriate for that particular comic. I LOLed. Still, I wouldn't have seen it at all if I had ad-blockers working. My feeling is that, yes, we are living in a grossly over-advertised society. Using ad-blockers is just deceiving yourself into believing the Web isn't part of that trend. And I suspect many of you who use ad-blockers might change your surfing habits if you knew who was supporting some of your favorite sites.
  • Here here, Frogs!! I block ads. Frankly, I think ads ought to be limited to the name of a product, what it is, and where to get it. Three short lines. ALL ADS!! Advertising sucks. Demanding that I consume your shit sucks. Put your info out there on a web page in a reasonable and unobtrusive manner, and I might just read it, but SCREAM AT ME and I won't buy your shit. And believe me, if you have intrusive advertising, I do remember it. The other day I went to reach for a product on the grocery shelf and remembered the miserable ad that I had to sit through that morning, and I bought the competitor's product. Two cents more, but soooo satisfying. There's nothing on ANY website that I need to see that badly. Block away, sucka.
  • BTW, I don't usually visit ArsTechnica (I've tried to avoid CondeNast sites in general, except for Lore Sjoberg content on Wired - and they recently restored his weekly blog/column - I feel vindicated), but I just checked it and that site has less, and less-annoying, ads than a lot of sites (including Wired). But BlueHorse just gave an example of why you should NOT ad-block in her story of buying a competing product because of a bad ad. If the bad ad been on an ad-blocked site, they still would've gotten her money. I have a long list of products I avoid because of their advertising, which would be a lot shorter if I tried to shield myself from the ads. At least with TV commercials you can fast-forward the DVR to minimize your exposure while still knowing who the offenders are. I had an idea for a site years ago that would just be a list of the advertisers on all the most controversial/obnoxious TV shows so that people who hated the shows (whether Glenn Beck, Jersey Shore or Oprah) could more easily boycott the advertisers. Because you shouldn't have to watch the shows (even fast-forward on DVR) to know who supports them. A truly evil plan, but better (to me) than ad-blocking. Ad-blocking is avoiding the problem, not fighting back.
  • All well and good for Truth in Advertising, but what about STEALTH advertising, presented as PR seamlessly inserted? Or would that kind of an ad be too cloaked to be croaked, properly.
  • If all, or even most, ads were unobtrusive, resource-light and free of devious tracking and social engineering tricks, there would be little demand for ad blockers. Sites like ArsTechnica who whine about ad blockers would do well to consider the type of advertising they accept. If they can't make a living without foisting such crap on their readers perhaps the flaw lies in their revenue model rather than their audience. As far as PR and stealth advertising goes, Dan, if someone can come up with an online bullshit blocker they'd not only get rich but probably cut internet traffic in half.
  • Monkeyfilter:The Antibullshitestablishmentarianator
  • But, but... If there's no bullshite on the web, where will we go?
  • "If someone can come up with an online bullshit blocker..." they'd be lynched five minutes after 99% of internet users realize that most of what they like online is bullshit.
  • Here ya go *Runs away to avoid lynching*
  • Great comments everyone. oneswellfoop - good points, and a way of looking at it that I hadn't seen before. *ponders*
  • I'm starting to run ads on the dinner blog, and I'm confronted with the same issue... I block all ads on sites I visit, but I'd like to generate some revenue for the trouble I'm going through to run the site. So what I'm trying to do with the ads I am running and am going to run is to at least put them in places that aren't hideously intrusive, and aren't products and services that are irrelevant to the content. I'm not expecting to get rich off the ads, but I'm hoping to at least generate a few clicks...
  • Can you do it without running flash ads? I think they're easiest to block, as well as more intrusive. Simple text ads would be your best bet, right?
  • The ones that flash over the content, then flash to the left, to the right and back in front of the reading matter - surely they were designed by disgruntled workers?
  • "I'm starting to run ads on the dinner blog, and ... I block all ads on sites I visit" Makes sense to me!
  • It's a difficult issue!