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Ad Blockers Should Be Illegal

Ad blockers deprive sites of needed income

     
3:25 pm on May 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm very surprised that someone somewhere has not begun a class action suit against all those who provide ad blockers. Whatever happened to personal responsibility, both on webmasters' and the users' sides? When someone uses an ad blocker, they are, in reality, defacing (changing) someone's website and depriving them of potential income needed to continue to operate the site. Seeing ads is a small price to pay if the users are getting the information they want. It seems so simple to me that if you don't like seeing ads on someone's site, you have the right to leave. No one is holding you hostage. I have never used an ad blocker, and there are some sites (news sites) that I have left because the ads are overwhelming. There are those who will argue that people who use ad blockers never click on ads anyway. I feel that is not true, because somewhere along the line there will be that one ad that a person will not be able to resist.
3:31 pm on June 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It could be argued that in some cases ad-blockers can actually help your ad income. If people are blind to your ads, it is still an impression when they view your content. The algorithms are always trying to display an ad in the correct position, page or site to generate a click. If your CTR is lower then this could be due to "ad blindness" then you may not get to display the highest paying ads. If your "anti-ads" users have ad blocker is it not going to count as an impression so will not lower or adversely affect your CTR.

Mack.
7:14 pm on June 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ad Blockers Should Be Illegal...

Not going to happen.
However, there is a door number three.

As a webdev cum site owner I have the right, within the laws and regulations of applicable jurisdictions, to publish what I want, including ads. Visitors have the right to 'look' (for several definitions of look besides eyeballs) at what I publish and do whatever they like, within the laws and regulations of applicable jurisdictions, with said content.

This is similar to having a B&M premises that people can look in as they pass by, come in and browse, pick up and comment on, etc. If there is a physical product then once it is sold it is theirs to enjoy or destroy (again subject to.... etc.) If there is not a physical product but rather a service then any given customer may 'waste' a whole lot of time chatting before wandering off. A realtor's 'open house' is mostly this. Traffic without revenue.

I run info sites, which I monetise via ads and affiliate marketing. So I understand the pain that comes with ever increasing numbers of visitors that, so irritated by so many other sites' ad cacophony, have resorted to ad blocking software. And by the seemingly ever longer misplaced re-marketing ad efforts such that, as with Chinese water torture, each drop becomes that much more unbearable and obvious. Yes, the ad networks are as much to blame as the overzealous sites.

Which brings us to the fact that we control our sites. Including who we accept. Traditionally, sites were open to all (including bots) unless they stuck up a 'adult warning' or similar non-binding restriction or they required log-in. Increasingly sites restricted bot access while encouraging general human visits. Now, many sites are upset that visitors are upset (albeit not necessarily with them) and using ad blocking software. And a small but noticeable number browse with javascript off and progressively turn on until site is usable or they leave.

If a site does not want visitors using adblockers or with JS off they do have the ability to simply make the site non-viewable until JS is on and ads are viewable. Or the visitor goes away. A number of sites do do this. Whether it is a viable option is a very niche/site/audience specific business decision.

Some questions to ask:
* before the rise in use of adblockers what was my conversion rate?
* before the rise in mobile traffic what was my conversion rate?
* can I qualitatively differentiate between the two effects?
* can I reliably graph the trend lines for each (from before through current)?

* before the rise in use of adblockers what was my niche competitive position?
* before the rise in mobile traffic what was my niche competitive position?
* can I qualitatively differentiate between the two effects?
* can I reliably graph the trend lines for each (from before through current)?

* what have I done to make my site head and shoulders better on mobile than niche competitors?
---given that mobile and desktop are contextually quite different have I provided versions best suited to each?
---or have I simply made my desktop site responsive and called it mobile friendly?

* do I pay close attention to ads served and ads viewed and frequently/regularly test variations of ad block size, location, style, type, etc.?
* have I correctly incorporated ads.txt so as not hinder ad block take-up?
* am I serving zillions of auto-generated pages that rarely see a SE bot let alone an ad bot?
---the third party ad network landscape has changed over the past three or four years, am I aware and have I adapted?

Perhaps the most critical questions to ask (some mentioned by others) are:
* are visitors using adblockers the type to actually click ads?
* is refusing access to visitors who want to see your content but not your ads a good or a bad marketing (as opposed to short term revenue) decision?
* is Google still the best source of converting traffic for your niche?
* are (which) third party ad/af networks still the best source of ad/af revenue?

After all that and more comes crunch time: show your site to everyone (human) interested or discriminate and block blockers (with notice of why and suggestion to whitelist). That is the choice sites face. Not making adblockers illegal.

There is a fourth choice as well: native advertising. Of course that is typically a large step up from cut-n-paste third party JS. Pays better though.
7:37 pm on June 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Why doesn't Google just serve ads from Google.com?
8:17 pm on June 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have an adblocker, why? to save bandwidth. It's been terrible without it, probably (I bet) most people don't have the slightest idea how much bytes you loose there. I never click on ads, why? that's my brain and I don't trust ads, offers, etc. Ads have NOT been useful to me. I never clicked on ads in the past and I don't do it now. Even if I see an ad about "Half price laptops at [whatever]" I instantly go to the site instead of clicking on the ad. If I couldn't install and use an adblocker I would block things manually using host files or tweaking my router, whatever. That's just me, most people are different.

And yes, I've been making money out of ads on my websites. Irony? no, contradictory? no, double standard? no, it's a simple preference and benefit on my work, anyway I said I don't click on ads.


I honestly agree with the original post. Illegal? that's difficult but I see the point. I just hate to see how terrible a browsing experience can be seeing ads everywhere or just eating bytes and bytes. I know how easy would be to make my sites run ads avoiding adblockers, and yes it would take updating from time to time but it's possible (and easy) the problem is most advertisers don't contact me/you directly even if they do show ads on my/your site via adsense or another network. There is a valid point on the advertiser refusing to engage on 50 diff networks, 50 diff panels, 50 diff prices, etc and just wanting to deal with ONE centralized solution. There are very valid points on the advertiser side.

What to do? I don't know. I continue doing some work and earning less. Do adblockers worry me? yes, but not much. What worries me more and more are scrappers, they are very clever and continue to steal content, now differently than in the past, all my hard work is read, modified, images replaced with some garbage but they do convert my content into new content. It's so dirty it upsets me, it's so well done you can't build a case on copied content. It sucks. And all for pennies (for me) and for them. It sucks.
2:18 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If a site does not want visitors using adblockers or with JS off they do have the ability to simply make the site non-viewable until JS is on and ads are viewable. Or the visitor goes away. A number of sites do do this.


When I run into that I turn off all styling and read the page anyway. Not as pretty, but most times I'm not visiting for aesthetics, I'm after content/info. Privacy/Incognito browsing often does much the same thing. HOWEVER, when I do hit a page coded to force js/scripts the first move is the back button (lost potential visitor).
2:22 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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No sympathy here. Websites have brought a lot of this problem on themselves, primarily with intrusive ads, a.k.a. greed. "If one ad makes money, 10 will make more." Yes, it is fair to place ads to earn income from sites you are providing for general use, I do it, but the logic for making ad blocking illegal is flawed. On what grounds would you argue they are illegal? People can DVR a show and speed through commercials. Should that be illegal? You can mute sound on a TV or radio during an ad - should that be illegal? Apps are available on Prime to watch movies without paying HBO or like providers. Should they be illegal? As for the bandwidth issue, that is almost laughable as most people do not even know how much bandwidth they use.

Like TV and radio, websites run the same risk trying to pay for their operation with ads. You/we exist at the whim of the user. And given how users (and their information) have been abused, there is no trust. Without trust, more and more people are going to block ads, apps, and more. Until websites stop abusing users and eroding trust, you are simply going to have to suck it up. There are risks in any business venture and this is one of them. The golden years over.
7:05 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Let me preface by saying that I read the posts until @leebow (who made an excellent point), then scanned ahead. So this may have already been said.

My sites focus on local users, and I've learned one thing that's horrifyingly true:

The wide majority of them have no clue that they have an ad blocker installed!

A VERY common question I'm asked is, "so how do you guys make money if the site is all free?" I talk about the ads, and this blank look comes over their face. This has happened so. Many. Times.

What happens is that we have computer repair shops that have no clue what they're doing. Someone comes in with a virus or spyware that's causing incessant pop-ups, and the solution is to install an antivirus and an ad blocker. Problem solved! The consumer doesn't see the pop-ups anymore, so they think all is well.

Further, computer stores (even the local Walmart and Staples) install ad blockers by default. So when someone buys a new computer, it's already blocking ads whether they like it or not. And the wide majority have no clue that it even should be changed, much less how to do it.

So at least in my case, blocking users with an ad blocker isn't a fair solution for anyone.

Back to the OP, though, I do think it's interesting how different industries handle similar issues (probably due to lobbyists, truth be told). There are actually laws to prevent someone from damaging or destroying a newspaper:

[en.wikipedia.org...]
[law.cornell.edu...]

There may be more, this was just what I found with a quick Google.

There are also laws preventing telemarketers from targeting cell phones and fax machines, because it could potentially cost the recipient money:

[consumer.ftc.gov...]

But for whatever reason, the logic behind those laws don't extend to websites... ad blockers cost us money if we pay for bandwidth with no return, just like a cell phone user would, but that's somehow OK. Which, IMO, means that we need better lobbyists to fight on our behalf, the same way that newspapers have lobbyists working for them.

Did you guys know that, at least in my state, there's a law that local governments HAVE to pay local newspapers whatever the paper wants to post legal notices? The local governments have no choice in the matter, they HAVE to submit legal notices and HAVE to pay whatever the paper wants. This is just a law that forces local governments to subsidize their failing local newspapers. Wouldn't it be amazing if a similar law was passed today, requiring them to pay websites whatever they demanded to publish something?

Sorry for the rant, it's 3am... :-P
7:10 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Websites have brought a lot of this problem on themselves

Or "Some websites have brought a lot of this problem on themselves, and on everybody else".
7:38 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, the rhetorical "websites" have brought a lot of this problem on themselves.

I understood that's what Marshall meant.
7:47 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well Google should release new guidelines and force publishers to follow user-friendly ad placements, if publishers fail to meet the needs, ads will be blocked by the browsers itself.

This will kill the ad blockers, improve the publisher revenue and user experience.
7:51 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just like "Say no to tobacco" day, we should also have "say no to adblockers" /s
7:55 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well Google should release new guidelines and force publishers to follow user-friendly ad placements, if publishers fail to meet the needs, ads will be blocked by the browsers itself.
This will kill the ad blockers, improve the publisher revenue and user experience.

Isn't it what Google Chrome is already doing since February? [webmasterworld.com...]
8:58 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@QuaterPan That thing was over hyped and I haven't come across any affected site.

I can still see the popup ads, annoying ads on pirated movies.
9:14 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@MayankParmar - not sure exactly what you mean by "over hyped" but the Initial Better Ads Standards is very real. The Google Ads-bot is still crawling sites and will display reports in your GSC: [support.google.com...]

Chrome 67 desktop just updated [webmasterworld.com] and mobile is still coming.
11:55 am on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If a person can not get direct advertisers, it may be the website isn't as useful/important as the website owner thinks it is.

Or the site may have a global audience, which means that a significant number of its visitors will be waste circulation for an advertiser that's mostly interested in prospects from specific countries or regions.
12:02 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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reports in your GSC

My site still has unreviewed for everything / ad experience / mobile / desktop
2:25 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Marshall
Like TV and radio, websites run the same risk trying to pay for their operation with ads.

No, as I have pointed out earlier. TV and Radio do not face the same risks as websites. The dynamic is fundamentally different.

TV and Radio broadcasters receive payment for the ads that appear regardless of whether or not they are seen. More important, in terms of risk is that the broadcaster sign contracts and receive firm commitments from advertiser before the content is either produced or purchased, so they face relatively little risk. Of course if a show is a total dud then next season they will struggle more to find advertisers.

The dynamic is the same as farming, we as webmasters plant our crop, tend to it, and harvest it (incurring all the expense and risk) and then take it to the market to sell it. If there is a flood or drought we are left bearing the loss, on the other hand if we get it to the market and demand is high we profit fully. TV and Radio broadcaster are more sophisticated farmers, they have access to the futures market, before planting or incurring any significant cost, they enter into futures contract to sell the crop at harvest at a fixed price. If market conditions change bet ween planting (contract signing) and harvesting they will not be impacted, positively or negatively.

What does this have to do with ad-blockers? The risk of ad-blockers only impact the publisher. The advertiser couldn't care less since they only pay for the ad if gets an impressions, and getting impressions is not a scarce resource.

No sympathy here. Websites have brought a lot of this problem on themselves, primarily with intrusive ads,

There is no denying that publishers have a role to play in this and some far more than others, but I think we really should be critical of the advertiser more than the publisher and certainly more than the users that consume our content.

If anything the burden of ad-blockers should shifted or at least shared by the advertisers. Now all we get is bunch of lip service and a continuous stream poor quality ads.
6:00 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Work arounds:

1- serve js content
2- serve content in standard "ad" format (so they have to turn off ad blockers to view the content)
3- change ad code to serve ads from ips - not domain names. 111.222.333.444/ and not ads.adserver.net/
4- blocker buster "click here to subscribe"

what else?
6:13 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Work arounds:

1- serve js content
2- serve content in standard "ad" format (so they have to turn off ad blockers to view the content)
3- change ad code to serve ads from ips - not domain names. 111.222.333.444/ and not ads.adserver.net/
4- blocker buster "click here to subscribe"

what else?

My next site release will include a nag screen. Every 5th pageview, the person using an ad blocker sees a block explaining that they're not only stealing from me, but also hurting the national economy in general. It asks them to please turn off their ad blocker or at least whitelist me, and links to detailed instructions on how to do that.

I'm also doing like your #1 and serving a LOT of content via Ajax, including the navigations, so if they have JS disabled then they're not going to be able to use a lot of the site.
6:24 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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...and keeping it all accessible for people with disabilities... or else another can of worms gets opened...
6:48 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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On one of my sites, with 1000 pageviews I get 1 or 2 clicks. The site is totally mobile based and majority of my site users are now using Ad blockers. With such low number of clicks, I make only few cents or half a dollar some days / 1000 pv.
7:14 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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In my tests, the top 3 adblockers did not just block JS. I serve a lot of content write.ln() as well as other basic JS content and all that displayed while Adsense and DoubleClick was blocked.
7:14 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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3- change ad code to serve ads from ips - not domain names. 111.222.333.444/ and not ads.adserver.net/

Considering the server is answering request without hostname (several services can run on the same IP), and as a result, checking every day that the IP of the ad server did not changed, at the risk of getting broken code, without counting that the adserver may use CDN / IP Anycast . Also, at least for adsense, there are so many redirects before reaching the real adsense code, that it will be blocked anyhow.

[edited by: QuaterPan at 7:45 pm (utc) on Jun 2, 2018]

7:21 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Or we need something like AdRecover for small sites. It shows ads when adblocker is enabled, and placement is user-friendly.
7:39 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My next site release will include a nag screen. Every 5th pageview, the person using an ad blocker sees a block explaining that they're not only stealing from me, but also hurting the national economy in general.
Your revenue will drop more because of this versus ad blockers. Stealing!? Seriously. IMHO, if that is how you feel, then you should not have a website.
7:46 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Tbh, if we block adblock users, and they refuse to whitelist us, and open any other site, it will have a negative impact on both traffic and rank given that bounce rate is one of the ranking factors.

Subscriptions isn't going to work on all sites.

We are helpless.
7:48 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Considering that, among visitors without ad blockers, may be something like 1% are clicking on ads, does it mean that the 99% others are also "stealing" like those with ad blockers ?
8:09 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The dynamic is the same as farming


These attempts to find the meaning of adblockers is amusing.

Tv and Web equal Farming?

Farmers rarely sell to the general public. They generally do not have distribution networks to deliver their product. They are not creators of content, merely renewals of existing products with little or no difference between any farmer with another, other than the crop of choice.

TV/Radio are completely different from the WEB. The web has never been like Radio/TV (won't change which is listed first).

Radio and TV STATIONS are distribution points. They do not USUALLY produce content. (Rail Stations along a railroad line, both of which are independently owned and operated with revenue streams obtained via fees and services)

Film and Radio CONTENT is created by producers of content. This is separate from the above. It requires writers, directors, actors, technicians, marketing and more.

Listeners/Viewers are CONSUMERS who benefit from established creators and distributors who each have different assets and liabilities. Stations need advertising to remain in operation. To attract advertisers they court creators. Those who are the best at each trade will make the most money. Both are very difficult to set up and operate. Both have government oversight or regulations and community ethics which they must be in compliance to remain in business.

Websites? None of the above. It's a different economy, and so far, free of most regulations regarding "broadcast" content.

We are creator and distributor (who really isn't a distributor, merely merely a whistle stop for those riding train rails built by others who charge carriage fees regardless of content/advertising). Pretending to be AT&T or Hollowood (sic) is hubris of a sort since few of us have access to the same venture capital, creative talent begging to work for us, personalities to create excitement, etc. The BEST most can do is ride the coattails of third party ad networks who may or may not be context sensitive (only interested in how many "signboards and barns" they can paper at SCALE).

SOME webmasters get the above and have branched out to assume one of the practices which make the above work: advertising departments complete with their own art departments, copywriters, and managers. That's where the REAL business lies of they truly do have content that appeals to significant numbers of consumers.

MEANWHILE, just as the consumer can vote with their feet, wallet, ears or eyeballs over the legacy TV Radio content, they can do the same with the web. That worked for a while ... long enough to create a class of webmasters who believe the web is a job entitlement (never was, but the belief exists nontheless).

When webmasters abused the users with all-dancing all-singing obtrusive and INtrusive ads the ad blocker was born of a NEED to send a message.
8:53 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Let's say that 30 or 50% of visitors have ad blocker, this is wrong to believe that if they were not blocking ads, we would earn 30 or 50% more.

Also, something I've learned here at this forum, some years ago, is that, you can get whitelisted by Ad block plus, I don't know why you are not all doing this. Okay, Ad Block plus is only one among plenty of ad blockers, but, behing the most popular, this is already a good chunk of extra visitors to whom you can show ads. I did it myself. 30% of my visitors are blocking ads, and after being whitelisted at Ad block plus, now, "only" 10% of my visitors effectively block ads. It doesn't mean the 20% is earning as much as the 70% without ad blockers, because , like it has been said, this kind of visitors are not the kind of clicking on ads, but they do click a little bit anyhow. (when ads are interesting, because, another issue is how Adsense is targetting ads, in the past, ads were much better targeted than now)
9:15 pm on June 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Tangor I agree with most of what you said but I think you are missing my point.

First:
Farmers rarely sell to the general public

I never suggested they did. When I wrote market, I did not mean a farmer's market but the the spot-market or the market where the physical goods are exchanged as opposed to the future's market where contracts on the sail of the underlying commodity are exchanged.

My fundamental point is that for TV and Radio (traditional advertising media) the advertiser always bears the risk of the ads not being seen. Whereas, on the web, for many of the reasons you point out. It is the publisher bears the risk.

Economically, advertising on TV should thus cost much less than web advertising but it doesn't since the advertiser most of the bears the risks. The estimates I saw was TV ads sell for 10 to 30$ CPM. That is about a 10 multiple of the prices I see. So we publishers are getting the double shaft, shafted on price by the advertisers and shafted by ad blockers by the consumer.

When webmasters abused the users with all-dancing all-singing obtrusive and INtrusive ads the ad blocker was born of a NEED to send a message.

I'm not saying that some publishers don't engage in these practices. (I was just on the Forbes site, I tried click back to search and it blocked me). But many of these ads are produced not by the publishers but rather by advertisers. I spend precious time everyday blocking those and the more I block the more that come. The bottom line is as long as there are no incentives for advertisers to stop using spammy tactics there will no change and the use of Ad-Blockers will continue to grow.

Take the IAB Better Ads Standard, the standard targets publishers, really it should be called the Better Publisher Standard. Auto-play ads are part of the standard, if an AdSense advertiser runs an auto-play ad campaign on my website, it is my site that will have its ads blocked. How does that make any sense?

If any thievery is happening, it is not on the part of the users, it is on the part of the advertisers. Advertisers should have to pay for blocked impressions and only then will you see marked change in online advertising.
[youtube.com...]
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