Full Article Here: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/pda/2010/mar/09/adblock
Using programs that screen out online advertising is fairly popular – particularly among the sort of savvy readers who spend their time reading this blog. But how much of a problem is it for web publishers? Just ask Ars Technica, the technology news and analysis site that tried a bold experiment to show its readers the real impact of ad blocking systems… and opened up a number of issues for web users and publishers alike in the process.
Ad blocking, if you aren’t familiar, is a technique used in a number of browser plug-ins that basically removes advertising from the web. Similar systems are also used to block Flash content – but basically, it looks for ads on a given web page and removes them.
That means if you’re using ad or Flash blocking, instead of seeing a page like this:
You see one like this:
Now, the common argument put forward by users is that it makes their online experience better and that since they were people who would never click on adverts anyway, it doesn’t make any financial difference to the site they visit.
That myth has been exploded by Ars, which ran a post yesterday called “Why ad blocking is devastating to the sites you love”. Last week the site, part of the Conde Nast empire which includes magazines such as Wired, Vogue and the New Yorker, tried an experiment so that users running ad blocking software also had the content blocked. Why?
There is an oft-stated misconception that if a user never clicks on ads, then blocking them won’t hurt a site financially. This is wrong. Most sites, at least sites the size of ours, are paid on a per view basis. If you have an ad blocker running, and you load 10 pages on the site, you consume resources from us (bandwidth being only one of them), but provide us with no revenue.
The analogy they make is to a restaurant: ad blocking users are dining for free, even if they don’t think they are.
It’s an interesting dilemma in a world where publishers are increasingly looking at paywalls, but users remain far from enamoured by the concept of having to pay for website subscriptions. So what do you do?
Well, ad blockers are popular online – I certainly know from the comments that plenty of you use plugins like Adblock plus. Indeed, a few weeks ago during a discussion here about the iPad, somebody in the comments asked me if I used AdBlock, and if not, why not.
I don’t, not only for these reasons put forward by Ars Technica, because money made through advertising pays a good proportion of my wages and other reasons. It would be more than a little two-faced to want people to pay for my content with their attention and then effectively remove my attention from other peoples’ sites. But I accept that it’s an argument that isn’t made enough by publishers – and that it may not brook much sympathy with you.
None of this is to say that adverts aren’t often annoying, intrusive or unwanted – but it’s an argument that isn’t made enough by publishers, and even so it may not brook much sympathy with you.
So: is putting up with ads possible worth it to support the sites you love? Or are there other options?