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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.
8:58 am on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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No one is talking about security issues and ad blockers (and other browser modules).

Let's take the example of ad blockers.

- they can intercept requests to a server, to block them if they include specific words in the URL or are known ad server domains,
- they can know the content of a page, since they can collapse div suspected to be ads,

It doesn't bother anyone? If a browser module can do this, it can easily record your login password, and harvest data from pages which are displayed even if they are with TLS connection. Since they can alter the HTML code, they can modify form destination for example, etc... Isn't it ?
9:08 am on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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But they don't "alter the HTML code." They just restrict the browser from displaying certain elements.

Adblockers also do not "easily record your login password" which is secured by the TLS connection between the browser and the server. That's the point if TLS.

Adblocker also do not "easily harvest data from pages." They do not "harvest" anything.

Adblocker are vetted by the browser companies prior to being allowed to port with the browser.

Get rid of the tinfoil hat.
9:25 am on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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But they don't "alter the HTML code." They just restrict the browser from displaying certain elements.

This is the same. For example [addons.mozilla.org...] alter the HTML code to hide messages. So, modules can alter the HTML code of a page.

Adblocker are vetted by the browser companies prior to being allowed to port with the browser.

Yes, of course, like app for smartphones, ... where thousands of app are bypassing tests anyhow, and harvest data...

Also, I was not saying they were doing this, I was pointing how insecure are any browser module. Here is how a module can retrieve the HTML code of the current page - [stackoverflow.com...]
9:59 am on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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No one is talking about security issues and ad blockers (and other browser modules).

I think many people using adblockers will use the same argument - and possibly with slightly more justification...
10:24 am on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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One reason ad blockers exist is malvertising (malicious ads, septic links, etc.), however, the majority of ad blocker users do so to protect privacy, reduce clutter/bandwidth, and quite a few, simply avoid ads if possible.

All of the above would never click on an ad, even if forced to view it.
3:13 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm quite surprised by some comments. I understand the topic and I'm on the boat too but some comments tell me: no wonder so many websites just die, there is an expectation (yes) but also a denial to see the topic from other (legit) angles. It's not about agreeing with the adblockers or people who use it, is about seeing the point and find ways to solve the issue on our side.

I agree that many visitors don't mean an actual conversion, some (I believe) fit the clicks Google Adsense takes away at the end of the day. There are also certain analogies that don't really apply to ads + websites: you don't sell the product, no warranty, no service, just a middle man. From where I'm standing it kinda hurts to put myself on the shoes of so many visitors to understand their point (understand, not that I agree), but yes in many cases it is obvious they have a point.

At the end of the day is about seeing things as the visitors see it, and as the "business partners" that provide the income see it, not just how we see it. It sucks but it's a start.

TV Ads. Well, many people to avoid the ads install some devices, most just get up and do something else or check their phones, the audio is enough to tell when the ads ended and get back to the show. Online services are now providing no ads while the content is displayed but they are actually charging people a fee for their service. Youtube interrupts the video/user experience to display ads. I believe there are easy ways to keep displaying ads, but they come with the problem of "how to track visitors and clicks". Non intrusive ways like placing something on images. Who knows... I'm deeply questioning this fragile business anyway.
7:18 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Marshall and others...

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."


I agree. I've been using the internet pre-browser and, to be honest, the amount and type of ads have become disgusting. Most of the time I use an ad blocker with no apology. The ads are bad enough when surfing with a computer; unbelievably intrusive when using a SmartPhone. When using a browser without an adbocker, I immediately click away or simply close a page the moment something gets my face.

I'm not against ads. I created and ran a website for 14 years. I made money using Adsense and, to a much lesser extent, Amazon. Nothing was intrusive, popped-up, blocked, warned about cookies, asked to send notifications, etc. And I limited the number of ads per page.

Despite all my years using the net, I am not overly sophisticated technically like most of you who participate in this forum. But I think there's growing evidence that people are becoming annoyed...and some are even afraid. Sometimes we feel like we're in a war zone with all the reports about security breeches, invasion of privacy, Spectre/Meltdown, viruses, malware and more. Ad nauseam.

I hope the ad situation with right itself. If not, oh well.
7:25 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You have to ask yourself this. If a person employs an adblocker would they actually be a quality conversion for your advertiser? It is your job as a publisher not only to get the click but to acquire a qualified lead for your advertiser. The person with the adblocker has already said I am not interested in buying anything so I don want to see ads. How serious of a click do you think is going to be?

This isn't true in my case; as I explained before, the wide majority of my users with an ad blocker have no idea that they have one! Often, a computer shop or well-meaning family member installed it as a "fix" for spyware that they couldn't remove. Or, as I've seen myself, they come preloaded when you buy a computer from Walmart or Staples (at least, in my town).

Further, even if they never click on an ad, about 40% of my revenue comes from ad impressions, not clicks. So even if they NEVER click on anything, they help bring in money.
1:55 pm on June 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This is the most BS opening post I have seen on this forum in quite some time.

Adblockers were created to battle the overwhelming greed of the majority of the webmasters when html4 came to be. Everyone and their cow decided it was cool highjack you to another tab open browsers because of unknown reasons or to spam you with pop-ups. They did not do it because "it is a small price to pay" they did it because it was easy money!

So what happened was the pop-up/tab/window blockers appeared on all browsers. WHY?! Because the majority of the websites abused them to no end! Ad-blockers were the next logical step when browsers allowed for more advanced extensions to be created.

It is not the users who "did this". It is the companies who understood that there was a huge market of dissatisfied users, who would gladly use their own product and provide their data for a chance to stop seeing badly made remarketing campaigns chasing them to no end!

If anyone is to blame for this situation is it ourselves, not the users!

Damn it, I can't believe people can be so two dimensional about this even in 2018.
2:05 pm on June 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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to blame for this situation is it ourselves

Yes, I regret I didn't abuse of intrusive ads when it was still possible. I could have make lot of money and be leaving peacefully now. Silly me.
2:56 pm on June 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A now common situation:

- Websites with XYZ,000 visits per week/month (so much potential)
- Small amount of ads displayed
- Even smaller amount of valid clicks and income
- Lots of empty spaces / slots due to blocked scripts-networks (so much potential)

What's the potential of 1-2 products or services you can offer and sell on your own using all those empty spaces? so many impressions per day to so many visitors. Difficult or boring to block because it's directly inserted on your html, no scripts (unless you want to). You can even insert a forever-changing server side code (and divs) to keep displaying ads from diff sources from your server.

  1. There is a point where there is opportunity putting "related content" instead of ads on your website (like in the old days, you know to keep visitors on your website). Remember a few older threads on webmaster by wise members reminding you that every click on ads or link-ads is a click away from you.
  2. There is a point where using those slots sounds like a good idea competing with the few clicks you get inserting ads very few get to see.
  3. A point where sounds good to write about other stuff (related to what you can sell).
  4. And the classic challenge we all live of pivoting our business or changing products/services because the current model is more a pain than a benefit.


I'm not saying that's the solution for everyone, not saying it's pretty or easy. Some have been saying webmasters got greedy, hate to say it but some got lazy (I've been there and sometimes I get back to that lazy spot), sure I liked the easy money (not "easy" but you get the idea of the problem here). I used to be there in the past selling a few products. Compared to just posting stuff and getting money sure is different but I can say sometimes one or two products sold covered a whole month of advertising (it was my product BTW, not someone else). That product is not a good idea anymore but I will have to find a new way to keep things going.

Hate? abuse? greedy? lazy? so many concepts in the air, but sure my sites were a way better user experience without ads. Ouch...
6:41 pm on June 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Because the majority of the websites abused them to no end!

@Nutterum, I couldn't find stats from the early 2000s, but Google has stated that:

Of the 100,000 most popular sites in North America and Europe, fewer than one percent violate the guidelines Google uses to decide whether to filter ads on a site, a Google spokesperson tells WIRED.

[wired.com...]

So your argument is that the >99% deserve to be punished because of the actions of the <1%. And I respectfully disagree.

It is my belief that the wide majority of people that have ad blockers are because they became infected with spyware or a virus, probably from Facebook. A poll in 2005 found that 68% of internet users had spyware, but 60% of them didn't know it:

[pewinternet.org...]

And in 2012, Panda Labs reported that 30% of computers in the US were infected with malware:

[infoworld.com...]

From there they saw pop up ads everywhere, and wrongly blamed the websites they were visiting. But since they have never heard of spyware or had any idea how to remove it, they instead found a way to block the pop up ads... which then blocked all ads.

So it's not fair to blame the websites, when spyware was the source of the problem. And instead of the industry creating a program that would block spyware entirely and solve the problem, they created programs that blocked the symptoms. And that hurts everyone, permanently.
8:42 pm on June 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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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.

@Quaterpan, I just received an email back from the Acceptable Ads program that you mentioned. They will not whitelist a site using Adsense unless the ads are text-only:

We do allow static images as per our criteria, but we currently cannot unblock third-party display ads from AdSense. The reason for that is that Google's inventory contains literally millions of poorly designed and attention-grabbing images that cannot be filtered out from the publisher's end, which unfortunately gives us no choice but to block all of them. A feasible solution is to switch to serve text+display ads randomly; text-only ads are unblocked while display ads remain blocked for Adblock Plus users, but not for other users.
8:54 pm on June 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@csdude55 - that is their 1st response to every whitelisting request and doesn't necessarily indicate the pages you submitted were even looked at. I've been through this.
11:47 pm on June 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I see. But well, I rely on Adsense, and from my experience the text ads give nowhere close to the return that I get on display ads. So if they won't whitelist a site using display ads from Adsense then my hands are tied.

I'm using Javascript to determine when a user has an ad blocker, so I could potentially create new text-only ad units JUST for them. I'll email them back and see if that's an acceptable option.

Any other suggestions before I do that, @keyplyr?
12:30 am on June 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, no. They're famous for being inexplicit. They seem to categorically block if any Adsense is detected and won't consider whitelisting for Adsense publishers despite the rhetoric.

I'm hoping this policy will be changed in the future as Google censures more offending ads.
6:21 am on June 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The twenty percent lost hurts, but don't forget the eighty percent still working. Doom and gloom only if you let it....
2:27 pm on June 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Quaterpan, I just received an email back from the Acceptable Ads program that you mentioned. They will not whitelist a site using Adsense unless the ads are text-only:

Yes, the criteria are listed here : [adblockplus.org...]

I did submit 10 sites over the years, and each time they get approve in a row. If you follow their criteria precisely, this is very smooth. Don't forget to explain what you are doing precisely.

I can't remember the link, but there was a topic here at WW about it, and someone explained how to detect ad block . So yes, I did create text only ads, that I am displaying when ad block plus is detected. And I have good results. Lot of publishers claim that, people with ad blocks, will never click an ad, if they are presented one anyhow. But this is not totally true. In my case the RPM of text ads served to ad block plus users is half of the RPM of my "normal" ads, but it still represent a significant amount of money, so I think it's worth the effort to do it, especially by these days.
10:00 pm on June 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So all that ad blockers are doing is attacking the free internet. If you don't want there to be websites with free information, then by all means, use an ad blocker and attack that system. And when we're left with nothing but Facebook, Amazon, and big news sites with paywalls, please be sure to take responsibility for your part in the demise of the internet.


Amen! This is a concise, 100% correct assessment.
1:41 am on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can't remember the link, but there was a topic here at WW about it, and someone explained how to detect ad block .

This may well be the thread you are thinking of..there have been others.
[webmasterworld.com...]
If one combines that ( or similar methods ) method with only serving..( or "allowing viewing" ) of "content" when adblockers are not operating in the visiting browser( via such means as the modals that I mentioned in that thread )..your bandwidth will not be taxed additionally by those miscreants using adblockers ( may they and their descendants burn in hell..oops! guess that means me ;-)

Of course, as was said earlier in the thread, the simplest solution would be to not use 3rd party ad networks such as adsense..and serve ads ( if you wish to serve ads ) directly from ones own site(s) , that of course means advertisers would have to think that the site(s) were worth advertising on, many do not seem too confident that direct advertisers would "beat a path to their door", or that finfing direct advertiers would be too much work as opposed to what incrediBill always refers to as "webmaster welfare" aka adsense, which ablockers block.

I'm amazed that anyone who has been around here ( and running a site or sites ) for more than just six months wouldn't know how easy it is to spot adblocker use ( and if one wishes* )..via some very simple code.. to block, redirect, restrict the adblock user(s)..only my opinion, but I think that being a webmaster should involve learning to write and use code, rather than merely copy and paste adsense or other 3rd party code into pages or wordpress or other pre-written CMS system "includes"..I agree totally with Elsmarc, Nutterum and others, wanting adblockers to be illegal is ridiculous, as is thinking that a business model based upon copying and pasting some 3rd party ad code to inject "whatever" ( because you don't know what that code is sending, it might kill their $1000.00 phone ) into the visitor's browser using their bandwdth, could continue to pay the rent..as Nutterum said..webmasters and the ad networks brought ablockers upon themselves.

I removed all adsense ( which was doing OK ) and 3rd party ad serving code , and the tracking and cookie dropping on the browsers of visitors that they entail( and tracking"social buttons" etc from my sites a long time ago..I don't regret it, means a little more work, but, "I'm doing unto others as I would be done by"..and I run ad blockers, and although I know how to block ad blockers..I don't block their users, I don't need to.

BTW.anyone still paying metered bandwidth and worrying about it needs to change hosts rather than wish for adblockers to be made illegal.

I'd actually be ecstatic if G just pulled the plug on the entire adsense program, and that all other 3rd party ad placement systems would vanish..that way those of us who do make and create our own content, and who can find ( and have ) direct advertisers for those of our sites that we run ads on ( many sites have no ads, nor will they ever )..we would no longer have to worry about who was scraping our content to slap adsense code upon what they stole, we'd not have to worry about who was "pinning" our content or who was "facebooking" our content, or who was "tweeting it"..because if the thieves couldn't get some ad network like adsense or facebook or youtube et al to allow them to monetise what they stole without verifying before whose content it actually was with the ads wrapped around, and was it's use legal and done with the creators written permission..we..the original content creators could get on with making more, or walking on the beach , or whatever..

Before the tide of "my site uses only my own created content and not all sites that run adsense are using stolen content"..I never said "all sites", but..I have looked at many sites of many members ( at their invitation ) down the years here , of those using adsense and other similar 3rd party ad placement systems, only a very small number of them where not using at least some content without the original creators permission that they "found" elsewhere..If adblockers contribute to the demise of them, ( by cutting of their "click" revenue ) and other such sites that use the creative work, images text, videos, music etc of others without permission and often outrank the original sites..I say..more people should use adblockers.
2:36 am on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Leosghost for finding that thread - I also posted a PHP version of the same basic code in another thread (which I can't seem to find.)

However, the JS code works the best, and those who block JS wouldn't be much of a loss. You could also wrap an additional alert in NoScript tags to turn on JS.
11:39 am on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I also posted a PHP version of the same basic code in another thread (which I can't seem to find.)

You may be thinking of this thread ?
[webmasterworld.com...]
You didn't post any php code in that one, but you did mention having used something similar to
Dimitri's approach..robzilla had another idea here..
[webmasterworld.com...]
A variant of "case" or similar would achieve what some are looking for.

If you detect noscript, you can also defer / mask content delivery ( via CSS is an easy way ) until scripts are allowed.

However, is anyone who is blocking ads or scripts really likely to click on ads if you try to force them to see them? I don't think so..so the fact that one can force them to see and ad ( or go away ) is not useful to the advertiser..The one who is paying for the click or the view.

It needs to be faced..

If SERPs had some sort of indication ( either in the "snippet" or via an easy readable icon ) which sites were running ads..
"example.com ..runs ads..requires you to accept them to view the site"..Virtually no one would ever click through to those sites from any SERP..if all "click throughs" via links on other sites warned "you are going to a site which will place ads into your browser", virtually no one would click on those links..Most people who do click on ads ( whether in SERPs or on sites ) do so without realising that they are clicking on ads, this is why webmasters "blend" ads, or place them where visitors will think that they are clicking through to another part of the site..this is why G et al encouraged "blending"..it is all an elaborate scam to get money from advertisers for eyeballs that would not look at the ads if they were told "up front" that ads ( frequently disguised as content or navigation )were going to be pushed at them.

IME, those railing against adblockers know.. Even if micro payments allowed visitors to sites to pay to use them..most visitors would not pay, because most sites are not worth it..and those that are worth it, have their content stolen placed on sites that use ads.
11:50 am on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Oh..and most people ( the vast majority of whom are not webmasters ) don't know that sites run ads..They know that youtube do( and they try to "skip them"..they know that facebook does..but if rather than assume ( or try to use the argument ) that "everyone knows that websites run ads", if one actually sits with them when they are surfing ( whether on phones, tablets, or computers ) and ask them to "spot the ads" on the pages..most cannot..most actually say "what ads"?..and when they do click on something that they think is going to another part of the site, and they find they just clicked an ad, they are not happy..Hence the rise of adblockers, and rise of the sites like hotels and trivago etc, which promise "no ads".
1:38 pm on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If even 10% of the people out there disallowed access to their website if an ad blocker is on... It wouldn't take long before users find ad blockers more irritating than the ads. If you don't like them and don't think they should be around.. Why don't you stand up for yourself and tell these users with a message why you dont allow disable ads, what it means for websites like yours and ask them to whitelist you or consider uninstalling their ad blocker? If half the websites had annoying messages and wouldnt lwt me see things you know what i would do?

It's an attack on free internet and you know the only people that stand at the finish line? They are few we are many...

Has anybody tried reaching out to others in their niche to see if "you do it I will do it to" type thing?

The funny thing is, I believe these big corporations HAVE to do this these days because people are waking up to their bs. They can rank #1 all day long but more and more people wouldn't take something from these companies even if they gave it away free. I would rather eat peanut butter all day everyday and jelly than eat your sugary gmo crap

[edited by: Steven29 at 2:20 pm (utc) on Jun 13, 2018]

1:41 pm on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Oh..and most people ( the vast majority of whom are not webmasters ) don't know that sites run ads.
I seriously doubt that in this day and age.
and when they do click on something that they think is going to another part of the site, and they find they just clicked an ad, they are not happy.
And this is a major part of the problem. In essence, being tricked by the website. If you cannot be honest with your visitors as to what is an ad, then do not be surprised if they block you, either by default or, more important, being mislead too often.
2:20 pm on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I seriously doubt that in this day and age.

You'd be amazed how many ( large percentage ) of "civilians" ( non-webmasters ) " go on Google" ( they think that Google is the internet..or they'll say that they are webmasters.."I'm a webmaster, I have a website on facebook"..or "I have a website on pinterest".

To most people ..coding a website is akin to magic.

"ads get there" ( on the internet )"via Google"..they don't know how, nor where ( many don't know there are ads on G SERPs..they dont know that the ads are ads..they just click the first "thing" on the page, must be the best, otherwise google wouldn't put it there, the government wouldn't let them", they cannot spot ads on pages, even the ones that are following them around they don't see as ads, they see as something weird..

they might tell you different if you ask them "of course I know about ads", but sit them down and watch them surf..( I have done this so many times )..you'll see they don't know ads from content..G knows this, so do webmasters, this is part of the "bait and switch" that those of us who install adblockers on machines we are asked to "fix" install them to prevent having to fix the same machines, phones and tablets every week..I do that for free.
2:28 pm on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I was working last year with a reporter ( senior editor )for a major French newspaper on an article about tracking via ads on the site that she works for, she was horrified about the level of tracking that could be done and about the very real risks from malware in 3rd party ads, and about ads made to look like content..she had no idea that the site of the newspaper she worked for ( and her articles appeared on ) did this on every page ( ran tracking ads and disguised ads )..very intelligent woman, decades of experience in ad funded offline press, no idea at all about how online ads worked..the article got stamped ( was not "run" ) on by the newspaper site's owner.
10:27 pm on June 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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And this is a major part of the problem. In essence, being tricked by the website.

Often they're just clueless. Or not very bright. (Don't forget that IQ is distributed on a bell curve: For everyone with an IQ of 120, there's somebody out there with an IQ of 80.)

FWIW, my wife and I have an editorial travel site, and you might be surprised how often we get e-mails from people who want jobs as waiters, tour guides, ship's officers, and so on. Then are the e-mails from people who left an item on a bus in Widgetville and want to know if we've found it. If Joe or Jane User can't tell the difference between an editorial site and a bus company, it's unlikely that they'd be able to recognize an ad even if the latter were labeled with the words "THIS IS AN AD!" in flashing red type.
5:05 am on June 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@EditorialGuy: Been there too, its impressive.
5:12 pm on June 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Leosghost: she had no idea that the site of the newspaper she worked for

Worned on the largest newspaper in my country (and the region), they did the same (still do it). Saying its the "largest" means a lot in the context of the thread: they have been struggling due to looses in advertising revenue, both paper and internet. Paper? almost nobody buys it, still on sale but now its easier to see it on restaurants so you can read it for free. Internet? the site is filled with images asking people to PLEASE turn off their adblockers. The site is terrible, heavy, slow, even without ads, with ads it's a nightmare!.
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