No, evil advertisers are the elephants in the room.

Darren wrote up a post to discuss the idea that ad blocking software (like the Adblock Firefox extension I’m running right now) are potentially going to kill the current business model of the Web. That advertising would collapse if we all used Adblock and the like, and that free content (which is at least partially compensated for by viewing ads) would degenerate into the noisy crapfest of Geocities.

The point is a good one – we can’t have our cake and eat it too. If we want to get content for free, we should expect to pay something, in terms of viewing ads or something similar.

But the problem isn’t ads, per se. It’s evil advertisers. I use Adblock to kill the “punch the monkey in the nuts and win a free iPod” and “viagra makes you so huge that she’ll love you long time!” annoying/evil ads. I have no problem with tasteful, creative, even thoughtful ads. But the “You have an error! Click here!” vibrating fake-Windows-error-dialog bullshit has got to go.

That’s where Adblock comes in. If advertisers want to maintain relevance, at least to myself, they need to abandon the annoying flashing animated banner ads, and, oh, I don’t know… be creative? tasteful? interesting? relevant? funny? etc…

Disclaimer: I do run Adsense ads on this blog, but they should only be visible on old content, and only by people referred to the site by Google. Basically, if you are a regular, you shouldn’t see ads (if you do, there’s a bug in the system – let me know, and I’ll try to fix it).

8 thoughts on “No, evil advertisers are the elephants in the room.”

  1. I think Darren is wrong about this as well– not wrong that adblock effectively strips sites of an income stream, but wrong that web sites have to rely on these old, static models. It’s amazing that advertising has evolved so little from print to the web– things like adblock are the forces that will help these models adapt to new mediums in new ways. We desperately need to move beyond the mimicry of old advertising. More importantly, we desperately need to move beyond the idea that content and the contents revenue stream have to be coupled so primitively.

    [Insert predictable arguments and analogies about the mute button, tivo, television skip, etc here]

    I’m not completely sure why this has suddenly become a hot topic, but I am hearing about it in a number of venues.

  2. I totally agree with D’Arcy. Whenever I use Internet Explorer I am surprised by how pervasive the advertising is because I’m used to Firefox with Adblock. I make no attempt to block all ads – but the annoying ads like D’Arcy lists never show in my browser (at least not after the first time).

    At least with me they are not losing any revenue. I ignore print advertising as well. If someone is going to get my money they get it by having something I need – and I’ll go find them.

  3. Hopefully we are moving to a model that is driven by relevance.
    It’s not just for the web- but for video and entertainment.
    The Broadcast networks should die soon- just because we don’t need them anymore. Why should they get to put Heroes up against 24? Why should I have to watch it on their time schedule? And why, should I have to see ads for feminine hygiene products- ever?
    Think of how makes recommendations- imagine a media and ad supported sites- all based on what is relevant only to me.
    How about ad ratings- enough people give it a thumbs down – it can’t be distributed (a take on Digg for ads).
    The ad world is changing quickly- soon all this will be worked out- because advertising is only effective when it engages- and advertisers can’t afford to miss anymore.
    Yes, as David says- I should be able to go find them- but, there are always new things that I may never hear about if it wasn’t for ads.
    I don’t think adblock is the answer- total accountability for ad placement is. We’ll see what happens.

  4. I run all my Ning networks ad-free, but have to pay (I think it’s $20/month) to remove the ads, or add your own. There’s a different business model, at least for services like that. I don’t like paying for it, but until I can host something as maintenance-free and as good as Ning, it’s OK.

    As for your ads, D’Arcy, I noticed them a couple of times when I Google to your site (when Google is my referrer), but for the most part, I don’t.

  5. I don’t want to block the advertising — advertising per se doesn’t bother me. What I can’t stand are things that move. When I look at a page, I want the page to be absolutely static. I don’t want to have anything moving on it at all (unless I make it move, by starting a video, for example). So rather than blocking advertising, I just set animated GIFs to never animate and use Flashblock to replace Flash elements with an icon I can click if I want to load them. All advertisers have to do to reach me is to use media that doesn’t move.

    You might be surprised at how distracting having any motion on a page happens to be. And how much better your focus is when you’re never distracted by motion. Now that I’ve gotten used to always having still web-pages, I literally can’t use other web-browsers (like Safari) that won’t let you block that stuff. I have to close the window.

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  7. funny… when you think about the beginning of the info-stream with radio… it has always been the advertising driving the content. All those great shows in the thirties we’re branded and targeted at a certain buying market. If we are really going to invert or at least convert the business model, I would like to subscribe to certain advertising groups. I would be more than happy to, for instance, have a plugin in my browser that allowed all advertising sponsored by the “lets not pollute our planet foundation”. I would choose to put the plugin in… the causes that I support would be able to make a little money… and i would be supporting local websites by having directed advertising on them that i chose.


    for the advertiser – they get to become part of consortial groups that focus their advertising in far more dynamic and specific ways.
    for the browser – they get to choose what kind of advertising gets through and support the organizations that they like. They also have some assurance that the advertising that’s getting through is ‘accredited’

    it upsets the model. Puts the user in control. Isn’t that why we like the intertubes?

  8. Advertisers seem to want to photograph, design, publish, distribute, and place advertising unauthorised into my letterbox. I have not authorised electronic advertising to appear on my web browser.

    I do not make it a practice to pay for advertising: in Oz there are many broadband plans where you do pay for bandwidth so Adblock makes great sense to economise on download bandwidth.

    There is so much advertising on the web. A Linux Sysadmin friend implemented Fx+Adblock on a corporate scale (different company) and he said it slashed download bandwidth use by 15%.

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