Ad blockers have been around for years and I have participated in many discussions regarding the issue in the past. Dave’s comment got me thinking about the whole thing once again so I thought it would be good to open up the discussion to you guys and see what you all think about it.
Why does this concern bloggers?
Ad blockers allow users to block the majority of flash and banner advertisements on a website. From the users perspective this is a good thing as bandwidth is reduced and the content is not squeezed between several banner ads. From a webmasters point of view, ad blockers remove all advertisements from your website therefore your monthly revenue is decreased. Advertisers which purchase ad space at a fixed rate will also lose out because their banner is displayed less often.
This is why many webmasters are very unhappy about the increase in popularity of ad blockers. For example, AdBlock Plus is the 3rd most popular FireFox add on with close to 300,000 downloads per week. Clearly there are a lot of ads being blocked.
I’m in two minds about this whole issue. As an internet user, I can see why people use these scripts. Some websites have a ridiculous amount of banner advertisments including pop unders, pop ups, interstitials etc, and because of this the general browsing experience is poor. Wladimir Palant, creator of Adblock Plus, said last year :
Why does everybody who puts up a site on the Internet assume that making users watch as many ads as possible is the best business strategy?” Palant wrote. “It isn’t Mozilla who is pushing Adblock Plus into mainstream — you [Web-site operators] are.
Also, if your ISP has set a bandwidth limit on your internet connection, blocking banner ads would mean that your bandwidth is greatly reduced.
Although I can understand why users use ad blocking scripts, as a webmaster whose livelihood depends on the advertisements on my websites, I am unhappy that some users can bypass my banners and reduce my income. Many webmasters agree. Last year Jack Lewis made the decision to redirect all FireFox users to a website called Why FireFox is Banned (site no longer explains why users were banned from viewing his site). The owner, Danny Carlton, explained that because he can’t block only the Firefox users that have the extension installed, he’s blocking all Firefox users since it’s “the only alternative”. Most webmasters probably do not feel as strongly as Danny as does about ad blockers however I know many don’t like the idea of losing money because their users are accessing their content without banner ads.
I do think that if a browser in the future comes with an advert blocking option this whole debate will come to the forefront. We would see many top websites lean towards a subscription model and many websites with less traffic would simply stop being updated. Or perhaps not. If the last 10 years has shown us anything it’s that when many users stop websites from displaying their advertisements, developers find a way round it (ie. think about the new ad methods which arose in response to pop up blocking scripts).
I’m sure that if ad blocking does become more and more common, we will see some newer methods of displaying ads. Think about it, do you think the top content websites on the internet would be happy if ad blocking users increased to say 10% of internet users?
What do you think of Advertisement Blockers?
I’d love to hear what you all think about ad blockers. Do any of you use an ad blocking script yourself? Are you concerned about the increase of popularity of these scripts?
I’m sure this is something in which opinion will be divided so it will be good to hear what everyone thinks about them 🙂