Adblocking; Don’t Blame The Consumer

I used to love commercials as a kid. I loved all types of advertising. However, it wasn’t until I ordered the sea monkeys from a comic book and got something that wasn’t quite up to snuff (what the heck was that anyway?) that I started to distrust certain kinds of ads.

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Tom Simpson via Compfight

That’s what led me to talk about this particular subject. In deference to those who feel people like me are causing them to lose a lot of money, I decided it was time to take on the subject of “adblocking”.

For those who aren’t familiar with it (where ya been?), many browsers offer a plugin called Adblock Pro, which allows us to block ads from certain websites; okay, almost every website out there. Some sites have figured out how to get certain types of ads to you in different ways (for instance, it doesn’t block all those newsletter subscribe popups; you need to block javascript for that) while others have created plugins or apps to help block some of those ads in other ways.

The view of someone I know who does video is an intriguing one, and I’m not totally against his thinking on this one. He’s a big YouTube creator, and many YouTubers put a lot of time into creating content because they can set up ads on them to make money online. With Adblock on, you never see any of those ads, whether they’re in the video or along the side, thus you’re never compelled to potentially click on them or watch them and the creators don’t make money. They can still paste a link in the description, but it doesn’t work as well.

It’s the same with websites. When we block ads, those sites lose a lot of potential revenue because who wants to advertise on a site where most ads are getting blocked? I certainly wouldn’t because it would be a waste of my advertising dollars.

I get it; I really do.For a while, I stopped blocking ads on YouTube because I recognized the time those folks put into creating this stuff that I like to watch. After all, I also create videos on two channels, and I was making “change” from some of my videos… was. Once YouTube decided folks like me didn’t deserve to monetize any longer, I didn’t care as much so I started blocking them again. I’m not one of the “cool kids”, but since I’ve never aimed to be part of a clique, so be it.

When it comes to the web in general, I have no shame when it comes to blocking a lot of stuff on most websites I visit. Adsense, affiliate ads… unless I’m an online friend of someone or a site has proven to not be obtrusive, I block (including cookies) and move on.

Why?

I’m going to blame the advertisers for this as much as the websites, but the advertisers first.

What makes us watch advertising in the first place? When we watch ads it’s because it’s offering us something compelling. For instance, the ads I’ll actually watch on YouTube have captured my imagination in some way. I like the funny ads. I like the movie trailers. Even though I’m not a gamer I love seeing some of those ads; those folks are creative as anything.

I’m not watching an ads that’s 2 minutes long talking about a medical malady I don’t have. I’m almost never clicking on one of those banner ads that comes up because there’s almost never any interest in that product for me. Sometimes those ads look like what we all used to call “generic trick spam”, where they’ll say something like “your computer’s out of date” or stupid mess like that.

A popup telling me I have a virus that I know I don’t have because I have an antivirus program is both disturbing and irksome. That’s one of my biggest gripes with ads that Facebook allows. Those misleading ads aren’t going to fool me after so many years, but I’m betting there are a lot of people who aren’t quite as savvy clicking on that stuff. Those and the ads that are videos that automatically start playing; man, I hate that stuff. That’s why I have a couple of extra layers of protection against ads on that site.

CNN is a different animal entirely. I removed Flash from my computers years ago as both Firefox, my browser of course, and Chrome switched to a HTML5 mode so I could watch YouTube videos. CNN figured out how to not only override that issue but the issue of keeping their videos from automatically starting. And now, if you try to pause those videos it immediately takes you to a different page than the article you want to read & starts playing a different ad; what’s that about?

That’s why I block javascript; no site can get around that. If I really want to watch a video, I go to Chrome; for some reason I haven’t figure out how to block javascript there. Since I rarely use it (because I hate being tracked, but that’s for another time) I find it’s a great place to check things out.

What’s your thought on all of this? Can you see both sides of it? Is it the fault of the advertisers for what they create, the fault of the sites for what they accept, or not something else? Are you bothered by the ads or just ignore them? Let me know.
 

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11 comments on “Adblocking; Don’t Blame The Consumer

  • Troy, I think I’ll leave that other stuff alone; lost my interest after the sea monkeys lol

    Overall, I know how people are impacted by adblockers; I’m sure I’m getting hit also. But if most of the ads are horrid or deceptive I’d rather not see them.

    Reply
  • What bothers me Mitch is that places like Facebook allow ads from spam sites. I s bought a drone from one of the ads they displayed which was a total rip-off.

    Other than that most ads don’t bother me.

    Reply
    • You know I’ve always had this thing against popups. If it wasn’t for that, I might not care so much. Earlier this evening, I was trying to research something for my wife, but every site I went to on the tablet had a popup, which slows down the site & irks me to no end.

      Reply
  • I am completely agree with you Mitch
    Such ads, especially videos, that automatically start playing, irritates me so much
    Thanks to share this article with us

    Reply
    • Oh man, you’re right there with me. I hate those suckers the most, especially on the cellphone. It seems Google penalties haven’t slowed any of those folks; I wonder what it would take to get them to change those practices.

      Reply
  • I do blame consumers. If the ads didn’t lead to sales, advertisers and the companies that use them woul find other means to generate revenue. By buying from the “bad ads” or even clicking on them, in some cases, consumers are literally “taking the bait.”

    As they stop, or as the tactics lose effectiveness or drive viewers away en masse (InfoLinks, anyone?) companies find other, often less appealing ways to generate revenue. Paywalls, for one. I predict we’ll soon see internet “bundling” the way we have with cable. A return to the old days, with commercial online services like CompuServe and GEnie. Kiss your blog and mine goodbye. Might just as well, now, really. The aforementioned InfoLinks and its ilk just about killed off the idea of anyone, ever, clicking a link from one site to another. Even on Facebook, people share crap they haven’t clicked through and read, largely because the headline signals its appeal to their chosen herd.

    The Internet is dying. Slowly, maybe, but it’s dying. And you’re helping to kill it. But you’re only PARTLY to blame. As with any ecosystem, it’s much more complex than that.

    Reply
    • I guess this means you’re back? lol

      Yours is an interesting take. You’re blaming consumers who keep clicking on the links for them to continue to exist, while I’m telling advertisers don’t blame the rest of us for adding Adblock into the mix because of those same stupid ads. I’m not sure we’re on the same page here; these might be two totally separate things, but you’ve just made my head hurt.

      My local newspaper is introducing a “soft” paywall to access their content. I’m not quite sure how it works, but it’s something I now have to think about if I want to see local news from the only newspaper in town. I can get the big headline stuff from some of our TV network news sites, but the newspaper stuff is more comprehensive. I have to think about this one a bit longer; about 50% of what they have I can find in other places if I want to search for it, but of course anything happening in the city probably won’t be covered by anyone else (especially my indepth Syracuse University sports news lol).

      As for blogs… actually, we might start getting more traffic as people decide they’d rather consume more free stuff than pay for it. Of course, some of us are hoping to monetize in some way, which I have no problem with as long as those stupid popups stop. There are sites I visit regularly that I’ll open javascript for to see if they’re going to irritate me or not. I probably hate popups, especially for newsletters, more than the ads… although I’m also getting tired of checking out a new site and being asked if I want notifications; ugh!

      Reply
  • This is such a tricky topic for people like you and me who have blogs. I’m very conscious and really really hate being tracked across the web and shown the same obnoxious ads over and over. I also go ballistic with autoplay videos. (There are a few sites I won’t even go to because of autoplay videos.) And as someone mentioned I’m getting sick of being asked if I want notifications. If I want notifications I’ll subscribe to the site.
    BUT, I also see and appreciate that content creators and online biz people need to make money somehow and it’s getting harder every day.
    As for the GDPR/cookie banner, I did take mine down for a while but then noticed that I was getting some traffic from the UK and Europe so I put it back up again.
    I don’t have the answer, I’m just throwing in my two cents.
    Have a good day, Mitch. 🙂

    Reply
    • As I said Amanda (maybe in another post),I get a little bit of traffic from Europe, but at 2% it’s not worth irking the other 98% for. It’s even a lesser percentage coming from EU countries (since I’m not including the UK with them), which makes my conviction even stronger.

      I understand we’re in a time where there’s more ad blindness than there used to be, which is why we have all these popups. I still don’t want to be forced into seeing an ad that prevents me from seeing the content. There are other ways to do it. I’ve written two articles this year where the topic happens to be the product I’m promoting in the right sidebar. In one of those articles I linked back to the other product, since it came later; people have the option to click on it or not. I also have my books over there to the left; folks on this blog probably won’t be interested but on my business blog, if they like reading about leadership, then they might be encouraged to at least check out what I’ve written.

      Reply

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