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Ad Blocking is Good - You Have No Right to a Business Model
TechDirt Flies the "Info Wants to be Free" Flag

 8:42 am on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

An article in TechDirt [techdirt.com] had this to say about ad blocking and webmasters who want to ban visitors who use them:

You have no right to a business model, and if some technology comes along that undermines your business model, that shouldn't be illegal. It just means the market has changed, and it's time you change along with it.



 9:52 am on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

"no right to a business model"?
Certainly, I would have to say that they have no right to visit my site.
Fairly simple, isn't it?

Somebody there obviously missed the whole "free as in speech, not free as in beer" line of thought.

[edited by: leadegroot at 9:53 am (utc) on Oct. 11, 2009]


 9:52 am on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

An article in TechDirt

As long as adblocker users are a small minority of geeks using Firefox and its add-ons, who cares, they're not going to pay attention to ads anyway.

I'm not seeing a big shift where we are forced to change our business models because of this plugin... yet. If IE were to have something similar by default, then I'd be worried.

Are we entitled to it? Are people entitled to content without ads? I guess that's the question.

But webmasters are just as free to block people with ad blockers as people with ad blockers as free to browse without ads.

PS: I block flash by default because it's just damn annoying.


 10:04 am on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not clear on the point the article is making. Basically, I agree with the general sentiment, but saying things like "you have no right" is just plain silly. Of course you have a right.

If by saying "you have no right to a business model" the author means:

"You have no right to present the articles you publish and the ads that run alongside them as an inclusive package where the reader gets both together or nothing at all."

that's obviously nonsense.

As a publisher you are, if you wish, perfectly entitled to take such a standpoint. (Indeed try and find a single magazine on a newsagent's shelf, in which there are two versions - one where the articles and ads come as an inclusive package and one where the articles are available without the ads).

Now, whether your web publication will still garner the same readership when they can only read your articles if the ads are presented alongside is another question.

But you do have a right to take such a stand.


 12:51 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sounds like an attempt to garner buzz. And look, it worked. We are talking about.

Folks have the right to block ads if they wish (who watches ads on tv any more? Fast forward. :-)

Webmasters have the right to run ads.

End of story. Or shall we say there is no story here.


 1:41 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

We have a right to put ads on our sites. People have a right to use Lynx if they want to visit our sites. Or to use Adblock. Or to turn off all images. Or to block flash. Or to read RSS feeds and never ever click any ad or vist our sites and increase our CPM revenue. None of this is new. We have a right to block whoever we want too. So where is the problem?


 2:42 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

if people don't want to read the ads in newspapers then that's fair enough. they can just turn the page. but the ads are still there.
and likewise with TV... if people don't want to watch the ads then they can just fast forward past them. but the ads are still there.

but adblockers actually remove the ads, wipe them out. that is a whole different ball game.
they are like newsagents snipping all the ads out of the magazines before they sell them.
they are like bill posters pasting over billboards in the street, and boarding up shop windows so people strolling down the road don't have to look at their goods. there's no real difference.

companies pay for that advertising space. it's not right that another company can come along and rip the ad down.


 2:46 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Advertising supports my site. I'm actually more concerned about the rapidly rising mobile space and how to monetize that than I am about the odd user that configures their desktop or laptop not to show ads.


 5:45 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)


is it adblockers which remove the ads? Its the user who removes them. Their tool of choice doesnt matter. No different from someone who tells his kid to snip out all ads before he sees a newspaper! How people do it is irrelevant - they are making a conscious decision, adblockers are not forcing them into anything.

I agree with Play_Bach - those people who are so bothered dont matter. I believe that someone who bothers to use adblock is definitely not my customer anyway! I have names to call those who want to see my content which cost quite a bit to create, but believes he deserves to see the content.

I agree with londrum morally - If I use a site, I defintely would not block their ads. But that's about idividual morality I think. I 'can' do it if I choose to.


 7:02 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

There are two degrees of this:
- the "freeloaders" who don't want ads. People can become this due to overly intrusive ads (e.g. all flash ads)
- the "phorms" who replace or add adds to our content.

Today I find the second outright offensive and I'd be quite ready to act against it.
If tomorrow some browser would add ad blocking functionality by default, I might change my viewpoint on the first and start acting on that too.


 7:34 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

How does adsense affect adblockers ?
Does it count as an impression, although there were no adverts shown ?


 7:37 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

The article is simplistic and very poorly argued. The alternative to the business model of making content free but advertising supported is subscription based content.



 9:01 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

The alternative to the business model of making content free but advertising supported is subscription based content.

That would only work on a few types of websites.


 9:19 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

The alternative to the business model of making content free but advertising supported is subscription based content.

There is -unfortunately- a third option: supported by "tax-avoiding" donations. As a matter of fact one can probably -depending on where you live I guess- make a decent living out of having your non-profit pay you a consulting fee, and basically make society at large pay indirectly a large part of it all.

The unfortunate part is mostly the leaching way to have all tax payers partly sponsoring websites and the fact that to be successful at this, one needs to be huge. Competition: nice, but under the same rules please.


 10:19 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

The online ad industry would do itself a big favor by not condoning intentionally-annoying ads, or by setting up some sort of classification system to categorize the annoyance/distraction factor to give users and publishers a choice.

As a user, I hate to have a dancing/flashing ad next to an article I'm trying to read. Maybe I'm easily-distractable, but I can't read with all that going on. So, either I'll shrink the window and scroll the add off-screen, or I'll click the flash-killer button in my toolbar to get some peace.

As a publisher, I don't want my carefully-crafted and 'respectable' sites plastered with dancing bologna.

So it it self-defeating to present distracting or annoying ads to me either as a Web user or as a publisher. Make 'em pretty, make 'em attractive, make 'em effective, but not annoying...

Banner ads and popups are now both mostly dinosaurs, because the industry didn't self-regulate. And with pop-ups, we did see the browser makers reject them forcefully with pop-ups blockers now standard equipment in most browsers and available in many toolbars if not native to the browsers.



 11:32 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'd hate to see the disagreement escalate... in reality advertising is the better way to subsidize content... else content requires subscription... or if "free" becomes absolute drivel. By the same token I don't like infomercials (or sites that serve the same purpose). Web will soon become the wasteland broadcast TV has become with many hundreds of hours per week (40 stations or more in my locale) with nothing but infomercial "programs" which I do not watch... or only watch ONCE, not week after week.

I do block flash. I block iframes. But I do allow some advertising. And if it is entertaining and not EVERYWHERESAME (tm) I go, I don't get annoyed. Sadly, I'm not the average surfer being both webmaster and broke :) so my comments on personal browsing may not apply.


 11:59 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

As a user, I hate to have a dancing/flashing ad next to an article I'm trying to read.

As a user I block those ads. As a publisher I block them as best I can as well. I'm ok with pages that have ads; I'm not ok with ads that wiggle.


 12:14 am on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

most users think ..

a) what ads ..there are no ads

b) these things are all part of the site

c) these things are are all part of the site ..which belongs to google

d) these things are all part of the site which belongs to google which is part of microsoft or aol .

e) i have norton ..my machine is slow ..and there are sites with what may be bits missing ..i will ask microsoft or aol or norton or my ISP ..because the innertubes belong to them

the latter wont ask ..because they know ..the phone call will be charged at premium rate per minute


 2:49 am on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

> most users think ..

That's true - the vast majority of computer users don't differentiate to anywhere near the degree to those that actually make sites do. About a year ago, I watched a friend of mine 'borrow' my computer to do a search on Google only to watch in horror as she immediately clicked the top banner ad in the 'Sponsored Links' section!


 5:35 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Worrying about ads is so 1999. With most people on broadband, it's not about slowing down the web experience anymore. It's not like watching television where the ads interrupt the experience. So why get hot and bothered about Internet ads? Isn't it time people get over it?


 5:59 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I didn't make it off broadband until 2006 (location reasons). Before then I ran an ad blocker myself. It was prompted by one site where the ads were quite big and slowed things down.

I don't block ads these days, but then I avoid sites where the ads push the content to below the fold. If I decided to visit that sort of site on a regular basis I would probably start running an ad blocker again.

I'm sure I was building up to something useful there. Don't you hate it when that happens? Probably something to the effect of people wouldn't block ads if they weren't annoying. Mine are above the footer and I had my second best week ever last week.


 6:05 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

As above, because as a user, if ads wiggle, they really distract me (which may just be my problem). And as a publisher, if they wiggle around and try to grab attention too aggressively, they make *my* site annoying and unprofessional-looking.

So ad publishers need to pay attention to making non-annoying ads and ad distributors need to use "annoyance" as a ranking factor, to avoid repeating the whole scenario that resulted in pop-ups being almost universally blocked with today's browser and toolbar filters.

I've got no problems with text-based ads a la AdWords/AdSense, it's mostly banners and Flash that bug me.

I also run a few advertising campaigns, and take great pains to make my ads walk the line between annoyance and effectiveness -- staying safely on the 'effective' side. They are -hopefully- quite professionally-done.

I'm personally looking at it from all sides here, and with a good bit of pragmatism; I think that the number of visitors currently running ad-blockers is negligible myself, and I flat don't worry about it. However, Phorm is an entirely-different matter, since it's at the ISP level...

[added] As maximillianos posted, I think the "You have no right" phrase was hyperbolic posturing intended as link bait. [/added]



 7:41 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

as soon as it becomes a problem ad companies will just update the way they serve the ads.
there must be a way to serve them as plain html, because i know that textlinkads used to do it like that.


 11:57 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

as soon as it becomes a problem ad companies will just update the way they serve the ads.

It for sure is not my ambition to be in the middle between a war between e.g. Adsense and Adblock+ .
So the best possible thing for publishers and Adsense is to avoid the confrontation and be low key with the ads in order to safeguard the long term in exchange for a bit less in the short term.


 2:39 am on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

there must be a way to serve them as plain html

I've always thought that some day you'd be able to display AdSense by including some server-side code (i.e. PHP) that will render the ad in plain HTML. That would be a useful option.

What I worry about is not the "geeks" who install ad-blocking plugins. It's the geeks who tell their non-techie friends about it, or install such plugins on their relatives' computers. Or the very AdSense publishers themselves who tell all their family and friends not to click ads (out of irrational fear they'll click the publisher's ads and trigger a ban). I'm frankly surprised that it's 2009 and not everyone on earth knows either a) someone who has instructed them on how to block ads, or b) instructed them on what constitutes ads and not to click on them.


 7:52 am on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

The ad-serving companies need to take more responsibility for the ads they serve.

Ads that highjack a browser or lead to some virus download?

One instance of that, and you cultivate a new group of people who hate ads.


 11:36 am on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does anybody know what proportion of internet users block ads? I know that it would vary on a site-by-site basis according to the sort of visitors (tech, non-tech etc) but a very rough approximation would be interesting. Are we talking just a few per cent here, or more?


 6:24 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does anybody know what proportion of internet users block ads?

Here's an idea of the scale. The stats for the Firefox add-on, AdBlock [addons.mozilla.org], shows over half a million downloads for the past seven days. IE7 Pro is an IE add-on tha has been downloaded three million times from download.com alone.

On the bright side, it looks like Symantec has backed away from including ad blockers in its security product.


 9:54 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

half a million, three million....

what matters is if the people using ad blockers are the people visiting your site(s).

If they aren't, who cares what they use?


 12:53 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ad Blocking is Good - You Have No Right to a Business Model

I wonder what the author will write about when all the realy good websites are paid subcription only?

This 58 message thread spans 2 pages: 58 ( [1] 2 > >
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