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ars technica says ad blocking devastating to sites you love
Many comments re right to freeload, yet no alternatives
docbird

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 3:13 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ars Technica has an article explaining how ad blocking can hurt websites - especially techie sites, since their visitors are more likely to know about ad blocking.

Over 1700 comments; checking a small sample, see some sympathy - and some arguments that ars needs a different revenue model, with no real ideas about what this might be. (Other than going behind a paywall...)

Article follows an experiment by ars, in which ad blocking visitors were not served content.

Link to this perhaps ok for webmasterworld:
[arstechnica.com...]

 

ticktock



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 5:49 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

couldn't this get mostly solved if the ad networks gave the publishers the tools to self host the ads?

I suppose, eventually the ad blockers would catch up and be capable of blocking those ads as well. But I can imagine scenarios that make it difficult for ad blockers to not create false positives. But then again, I have never seen anything a regular expression couldn't do.

ChanandlerBong

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 6:20 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

the answer to all of this is an efficient micropayment system. Staggering that one still hasn't been developed after more than a decade.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 6:21 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I ran a test for a week that booted anyone with AdBlock or javascript disabled to a page telling them to enable javascript and disable Adblock and it let them back in to the site.

Some people complied, most of the deadbeats just went away which didn't bother me at all.

However, I found a snag with some other technology and I can't find my notes at the minute, but there was a casualty caused that was unintended so for that reason only I pulled the ad blocker buster until I get time to resolve the conflict.

There was a huge thread about this topic 5 years ago which is still relevant today:
[webmasterworld.com...]

Then is came back for a rousing Part 2:
[webmasterworld.com...]

couldn't this get mostly solved if the ad networks gave the publishers the tools to self host the ads?


For text ads, yes.

For standard size banner ads, no.

The ad blockers block downloading all standard banner size images from the page.

blend27

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 6:29 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Speaking as an Internet user here: I block the Ads as well by default, well not just Ads but if the content is being loaded from another root URL other than the domain I visit. NOSCRIPT. NO Exceptions and have it setup this way for a long long time.

I also have the following in .HOSTS file on every machine on the network:

.....
127.0.0.1 ad.yieldmanager.com
127.0.0.1 ssl.google-analytics.com
127.0.0.1 pagead2.googlesyndication.com
127.0.0.1 doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1 ad.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1 pubads.g.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1 fls.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1 static.2mdn.net
.....

And similar to that on the firewall level that connects all the machines to the web. I don't care if the site relies on Ad Display to survive. My Privacy is more important to me. Too many sites abused the system with displaying ads. Sorry. I'd like me a cookie once in a while, but not from the sites blocked in my HOSTS file. Too many add agencies abuse the system by accepting nonsense in to their systems as well.

Same here as JAB says, if I like the site and it deserves some dough I will donate the some $$$, Most sites don't. If the site has a pay wall and I like what I see before I hit the wall, I'll subscribe. Again, most sites don't, just a bunch of noise.

FattyB

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 6:37 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Plus you will have to make sure none of your div ids matches anything in their element hiding list. I installed adblocker the other day and noticed whole bits of our page missing because I re-used the ad class for some content blocks in the same area.

In fact you could use this to hide content from people using it, just name a the content div something like adpage. Only downside is no message to them so they will probably just think the page is not working.

scot184

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 7:12 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

As far as CPC is concerned, it probably has no impact, as the blockers wouldn't click the ads even if they did appear.

There's a good chance the more techy readers aren't the ones bringing in your revenue...

With CPM in mind, it's a bit dodgy...but this is the nature of the internet...

Paywall is a clear fail.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 7:58 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Paywall is a clear fail.


I ran a 100% free ad supported site for over 10 years and last year switched to paid membership. Visitors are still free (for now), but membership is no longer free. If you want to be a member and put your information in front of visitors there's a small nominal one-time fee.

It was slow the first month or two, but after people realized I meant business, registrations picked up real quick.

So there are ways of making people pay without pay-per-view.

The site isn't free any more, and it survived, that's the real story.

Solution1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 8:28 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Every time I happen to visit websites without an ad-blocker, I'm appalled by the highly disrespectfull advertising that is around.

Sound and movement are highly distracting, and annoying when I'm not interested (which I usually am), and thus disrespectful. Ads that take up lots of space, and thus block what I am interested in, are disrespectful. Manipulative and deceiving ads are disrespectful, and yes, there's a lot of advertising in this category.

So, when I'm not respected, why would I respect websites that rely on ads for their income? I just use an ad-blocker.

In the country where I live, we have ad-supported newspapers, that are distributed mainly in trains, and are without any cost to the readers. You know what, the advertising in them doesn't bother me. I feel no need at all to avoid these papers because of the advertising. Because the ads don't move, don't make sound, and can be avoided simply by looking elsewhere.

londrum

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 10:05 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sound and movement are highly distracting... and thus disrespectful.

how is that disrespectful? every ad on the TV uses sound and movement. every ad on the radio has sound too. all the trailers at the movies. are you going to boycott the cinema? users are getting too precious about ads. they are just ads. websites have to make money somehow.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 10:59 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

In the country where I live, we have ad-supported newspapers, that are distributed mainly in trains, and are without any cost to the readers.


That's because they pay per impression for the papers distributed.

Thanks to the AdBlockers that model no longer works on the internet.

People running advertising based business models aren't killing free content, AdBlockers are!

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 11:31 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

The comparison of tv/radio to the web is valid to a point, but fails overall as tv/radio have long historical backgrounds as to operation and advertising models and has already dealt with this aspect of advertising several times (hence cable, direct, etc., pay models) few of which have been embraced by the web...yet.

In the web's short history ads are the newcomer and some resistance is to be expected. Additionally there is the secondary security/privacy issues which tv/radio do not introduce (unless mainstream media news is a trojan yet to be acknowledged).

A tv/radio is not the same as a personal computer where folks do work, communicate, maintain personal information, can be commandeered by malicious parties. Tv/Radio are passive set top boxes with no interaction to personal information (other than cable networks). I NoScript (block third party everything, scripts, and other material not originating from the intended site destination. Thus, I do see ads which are hosted on the visited site, but do not see adsense, adwords, affiliates, etc.

JS_Harris

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 4:06 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Serve your entire site inside of ad code, if a visitor blocks the ad they waste none of your bandwidth.

You make money from your ads so it's not cool to block them.

A more realistic solution would be to create a background image to place behind your ads that carries a written message, something like... "The Ad Blocker you are using is eliminating any chance I get paid for the hard work I did on this site. Please consider turning it off, if everyone uses one I'll have to make the site private and charge everyone to see it and I don't want to do that."

walkman



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 4:44 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Thus, I do see ads which are hosted on the visited site, but do not see adsense, adwords, affiliates, etc. "


Frankly you should be blocked. Seeing those ads is the price you pay for the content, if you don't pay you should not complain. All publishers should get together and block the blockers.


So, when I'm not respected, why would I respect websites that rely on ads for their income? I just use an ad-blocker.


You will be respected with a block soon don't worry. It makes no sense for them to let you read their content and if enough do it, you will change your behavior.

[edited by: walkman at 4:46 am (utc) on Mar 14, 2010]

jkovar

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 4:45 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Advertisers should start "Glen Becking" Arstechnica.

Herenvardo

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 7:01 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd like to share two different views on this topic:

As a user who spends many hours browsing the web, I think I'm a typical example of an "ad-blind" user: I automatically ignore most of the ads around the content I'm reading or looking at, without even realizing that there are ads there. However, sometimes I look around intentionally for ads and/or links (normally after reading something that I found interested enough to want to follow up with more of the same stuff).
That applies to text, image, and some animated ads; but there are some annoyances that go beyond that: shinny blinking banners, loud audio ads, pop-up/pop-under/pop-whatever (including z-order'ed <div>s acting as "fake" pop-ups) and their kin are the quickest recipe to get me away from a site. If the first thing I feel upon visiting a page is annoyance, then the first thing I'll do is leaving. And I'm strongly convinced that most people would react the same way.

Non-intrusive ads aren't an issue (at least for me), and sometimes are even useful; and intrusive ones backfire to their publishers, as they are the best way to ensure that the annoyed user avoids the site, at least for a while. So, as a user, I don't really care about ad-blocking.


But I'm also a webmaster. I run a site that provides free original content oriented to a quite technical audience, whose only form of revenue is advertising. While I haven't checked it, I'm quite convinced that ad-blocking (or script-blocking, which has the same effect since my ads are served via javascript) is quite commonplace among my audience.
First things first; most of my ads are pay-per-click, and I know users who use ad-blocking would be very unlikely to click on the ads even if I somehow forced them to view them, so what'd be the point?
Next, there are plenty of reasons ads could get blocked (directly or indirectly), where I wouldn't want the user to be banned/blocked/whatever; for example:
  • A user reaches the site from a computer at work, with scripts blocked, but may get interested enough on my contents to visit the site later from her/his own computer: blocking the initial visit would cost me potential ad-clicks, since I would have missed the chance to earn that user's interest.
  • A user uses ad-blocking (or script-blocking) deliberately, but provides valuable feedback on my products. This feedback helps me improving the product, making it more likely to attract more visitors, which may translate to more clicks. Again, banning an ad-blocking user would make me lose clicks.
  • A user with ad-blocking visits my site, likes it, and speaks about it to her/his friends, or on some forum, etc: this translates to more visits, and more clicks, to my site. Once more, banning that user would cause me a greater loss than the resources (like bandwith) s/he uses from my server.

The last example is quite significant: I make a huge effort to make my site and products as compelling as possible, since word-of-mouth is my most cost-effective promotion mechanism.
So, as a webmaster, I don't care about ad-blockers either.


Finally, I'd like to make some comments about the privacy and cookie concerns some posters have arisen: The ads I publish on my site are actually AdSense. Yes, this causes my site to create a cookie on the user's computer, but:
  1. The user has several ways to prevent that cookie from being created at all, or to get rid of it after it is created.
  2. While the cookie is indeed used for some degree of tracking, this tracking is aimed to improve the ad-serving process, with three way benefits (more on this below). I have heard some people claiming that this cookie might be combined with data from other services by the same provider for more obscure purposes, but I have seen no evidence of such "evil" uses and my site doesn't even mention those other services: if an user trusts that provider enough to use such services, then this is something between the user and them; I'm not part of it.

My reason to choose that service was that its targeting mechanisms yield a three-way benefit:
First, since the ad will normally be closely related to the page content, chances are higher that it is useful to the user. So it's a benefit to the user over "n-th visitor" and similar ads.
Second, since the user is more likely to be interested in the ad, s/he'll be more likely to click it, so I get more clicks and more revenue.
And third, since ads are normally shown to users that are likely to be interested, the advertiser gets better referrals through them, so they get a better ROI on their advertising.

If some visitor is really concerned about this, they can block ads, scripts, and/or cookies, and no cookie will be created (although some "customization" features of the site would stop working, of course): as I said, I don't really care about ad-blocking visitors on my site: they are likely to give me some benefit proportional to what they get from my work anyway (like feedback or word-of-mouth).

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 7:15 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't really care about ad-blocking visitors on my site: they are likely to give me some benefit proportional to what they get from my work anyway (like feedback or word-of-mouth).

Healthy attitude! Not sure that will work with those who block scripts in particular and third party as well, but that is the correct attitude to take and I admire it!

As a blocker I will say this: if the site is compelling enough I will instruct NoScript to Allow All (except those I've already inserted into my Hosts file). I get a bit more, but I don't get what I--the techie--do not want to receive--or reveal.

Edit: and that makes me, what, among the 1% who do that?

Solution1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 8:02 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Let me give two examples of ads that I don't find disrespectful:

- On one of my informational websites, I have sets of Amazon links underneath the articles. These are ads of books, handpicked by me, to fit the subject of the article. They are quite useful to the reader who wants to go deeper into the subject. The ads are not put into the face of the visitor, but are at the exact spot where he or she might genuinely be interested in getting to know more. And, of course, these are not animated ads.

- The ads that Google places to the right of search results are an excellent example of respectful advertising. No blinking, no video, no sound, just text. Totally relevant. I even click them, when I'm looking to buy something.

I used to find Adsense acceptable, and hadn't blocked it. A bit ugly, usually, but not distracting or annoying. But then I got ads that I thought could only have gotten there through profiling, Google having registered something about my having an impending death in my family, and serving "relevant" ads. I was very much insulted, and then added Adsense to my block list.

SteveWh

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 8:16 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you use tricky workarounds to force CPM ads on 1000 people who hate advertising so much that they'd prefer to block them, wouldn't that mean the advertisers aren't getting their money's worth on those 1000 ads because they're being shown to a completely nonreceptive audience and might even be building negative brand awareness instead of positive?

Solution1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 8:39 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some seem to believe that visitors have a moral obligation to view (and not block) advertising on websites.

Visitors, as a matter of fact, do not have such an obligation, as there is no agreement whatsoever that they have to. There is no contract of whatever form, nor a law, that puts visitors in such a position.

That a webmaster puts ads next to what the visitor actually comes for, is a matter of having the power to do that, and the visitor being powerless to do something about it. I can fully understand that a webmaster hates it when visitors happen to not actually be powerless to do something about disrespectful advertising, especially if the webmaster feels powerless to stop them from that.

But this power issue has nothing to do with ethics or morality. Morality is only drawn into the picture to try and restore the webmaster's sense of power.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 10:18 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you use tricky workarounds to force CPM ads on 1000 people who hate advertising so much that they'd prefer to block them, wouldn't that mean the advertisers aren't getting their money's worth on those 1000 ads because they're being shown to a completely nonreceptive audience and might even be building negative brand awareness instead of positive?


That's an assumption you make and I'm sure companies factor those in. I spend 12 hours online a day and still click sometimes. If you are a webmaster and see a hosting deal when you're looking for hosting, why wouldn't you click? Or an offer from Amazon tech? or $50 free from adwords?

Even if you never click, seeing, for example, Verizon or ATT there all the time gets it in your head and next time you want a cell phone you have them in mind.

londrum

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 10:21 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

As a blocker I will say this: if the site is compelling enough I will instruct NoScript to Allow All

maybe you will do that, but the problem with these ad blockers is that everyone else won't. they are fire and forget things. you set them up once to defeat one lousy website, and every other top-notch website gets dumped into the same bucket.

ads aren't sins, are they. they don't harm you. you don't go blind if you see something moving. you don't go deaf if it plays a noise. and you'd have to be pretty dim to get brainwashed by a bloke holding up a burger bun. i don't understand all the hoo-haa. ads have been around since the dawn of time in every medium that has ever been. people are only moaning about it now because they have this gizmo to make them disappear. take that away and they would soon slip back into their acceptance of them.

zeus

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 10:45 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just say one thing block those users that blocks your ads and when more sites do this people will wake up when they still want good free content

Vamm

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 12:38 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The problem is mostly that technically you cannot have
"block only moving ads", or
"auto cancel havigation when a target page has more than 50% adsense ads".

Instead of that, people get what they can techincally have, that is, "block all flash" takes care of moving ads, and "block all adsense" takes care of MFA pages (one just arrives at a nearly empty page).

So we need a new HTML tag or attribute like "moving ad", and a sort of a meta name="mfa" content="useless". This way ad blocking software can discriminate between quality and less quality ads.

shri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 1:33 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Vamm - Would it not be nice if the adblockers, like the search engines followed a protocol like say robots.txt and gave control to the webmasters which allowed them to block valuable parts of the site when the blockers were active?

User-Agent: adblock
Disallow: /premium/

At which point the adblocker will gracefully allow the user the option to turn on ads if they wish to view that content. That is assuming the writers of the various blockers have some sense of fairness...

IanTurner - I probably spend as much time online visiting various sites every day and have yet to come across any "premium" sites which throw up sound / video or popup - cnn, nytimes, arstech, slashdot, anything that has adsense / premium network / directly sold inventory on it.

With an adblocker enabled all the time, people discriminate against all sites... and neither the webmaster or the surfer are going to get invited to the whitehouse for a beer.

Vamm

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 1:48 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

shri,

Yeah, adblock-disallow would be nice too.

In meanwhile,
Here I was just doing some research with adblocking disabled (to see where our adwords are shown), and left it disabled (I often do).

Affter a coffebreak I came back to the machine and thought I need to check a thing on Technorati.
Immediately, a red flashing ad was saying "NOT A JOKE; YOU ARE VISITOR NUMBER 10,000". On Technorati, eh.

So I turned the blocker on again, until the next time I need to check adwords.

blend27

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 2:35 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Couple of month ago while finishing a good size project the share hosting server where the DEV site was hosted on was hacked and all sites got JS-Script injection into every page and every site on that shared server. The Script was pointing to .(*&^%&*^%.cn domains that if executed would download and install a Trojan on machine. As a result several machines on my clients’ local network got infected. The project came to stand still till the hosting server was cleaned - 1 Day, all the machines were cleaned on the clients network 3 days. A week later same thing. It was a tuffy to keep this client as such. We lost more that a week worth of valuable time.

All in all, we almost lost this client. At the beginning we were even blamed for installing the virus on their network. This was a site that was only accessible from Clients IPS and ours via HTTP. If they were running NOScript at the time I am pretty sure we could of avoid half the problems.

To access the original site is OK - to run JS from other sites Not OK. I visit lots of sites that use JQuery, and if it is not hosted on the same site as I am visiting, the site does not run until I temporarily allow it to run, but only from select sites like JQuery site themselves. Same goes for ADS.

I understand the pain of losing the revenue from Advertising, but also understand the concept: Better SAFE than SORRY.

Solution1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 3:10 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been contemplating adding advertising to one of my informational websites, in a way where the advertising is initially turned off. A visitor would then select an option to turn on advertising (which selection is then stored into a cookie).

That they, people wouldn't have to use an ad-blocker, if they're not interested in seeing ads.

UserFriendly

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 3:48 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Solution1, don't waste time on coding that unless yours is a long-time community kinda setup.

For informational sites like mine, the average visitor sees only one page and is there for less than a minute. They wouldn't even spot a "turn on adds" button.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 12:22 pm on Mar 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

As a result several machines on my clients’ local network got infected. The project came to stand still till the hosting server was cleaned


Most likely they all using MSIE.

However, just because MS can't secure a browser doesn't mean we shouldn't provide rich media advertising, it simply means we should abandon MSIE.

blend27

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 3:07 am on Mar 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Bill, as strange as it might sound an even mix of IE7 and FF, it was a realy nasty one. Anyway that's the other side of it.

There are other technologies other than loading JavaScript file from the remote server, like Server Side Scripting. Including a reff. to 5 KB JS File to serve Ads is the same as requesting 5KB XML file and processing it locally. Same BandWidth. And for the sites that serve/cater to random Advertisers and have minimum control of what Ads/Content are shown on their site due to preferences of the Content provider, well, NOSCRIPT.

Sorry People, I feel you pain, but that is my stand on this, as a user and a web developer.

blend27

oooh, it's post 999

ppc_newbie

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4094447 posted 7:03 am on Mar 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just my way of thinking and trying to be fair to both sides.

Probably most surfers running adblockers got hit sometime with a bunch of nasty stuff somewhere. So they go get an ad blocker and all sites get blocked. Good, bad, whatever.

But , as an advertiser I still want the surfers to be able to see my targeted relevant ads, and publishers want to make a few cents also.

So how about splitting the diference between bouncing the surfer and using a paywall.

Maybe only displaying a "snippet" of the content, and requiring the adblocking be turned off, JS enabled for navigation before viewing the rest of the content.

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