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---- ars technica says ad blocking devastating to sites you love
Herenvardo - 7:01 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)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.
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.
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 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:
The user has several ways to prevent that cookie from being created at all, or to get rid of it after it is created.
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).
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