If Your Blog Doesn’t Have Ads, Are You Evil?

Filed as Features on September 19, 2007 7:00 am

Mark Evans has written a few posts about how AdBlock Plus, an ad blocker for Firefox, is “evil.” He argues that readers who block online advertising are cutting off a major source of revenue for the sites they visit. The subject is worth considering in regards to blogging and priorities – to both your readers and advertisers.

I’d like to flip things around and critique “intrusive” online advertising – the main reason why ad blockers exist. I feel disrespected as a customer when I encounter ads that excessively waste my time or annoy me. Here’s a short list of “intrusive” advertising types with specific examples:

  1. Ads that require an action to disable: pop up or pop under windows (I have to close the window) or ads with music (I have to turn off the music or turn down the volume).
  2. Ads that deliberately obscure the content: ads that drift with animation over the text on the page, ads that take up the vast majority of the top of the page, forcing me to scroll down, or even ads that take up a large corner of the first paragraph of the content, forcing me to search for the first line of text.
  3. Ads that are deceptive in order to generate a click: ads intentionally disguised as or placed very close to user interface elements, or colored words that are actually links to ads (these look annoyingly similar to text links to other web pages).
  4. Ads that interrupt the websurfing experience in a time-wasting manner: preroll ads on videos, ads on their own page placed before you get to the actual content, or web pages that are deliberately split into ten pages, each loaded with ads, in a weak effort to get you to read every page, thereby increasing ad and page views.

As you can see, I’m quite annoyed at several, common forms on online advertising. But I have a simple justification:

I, as a reader, am a customer and in an ideal world, should always be placed first. When a content provider deliberately wastes my time (1, 2, 4), tries to trick me (3), or takes advantage of me (4), I don’t feel the site hosting those ads is treating me as their #1 priority. Call me naive, but I still think the customer should be placed first – business models be damned. And therefore, I don’t see any reason why I should be obligated to support a site or advertiser that doesn’t respect me. AdBlock Plus may come into play – but more likely, I won’t visit that site again.

My personal advertising views influence the sites I visit and the ads I run on my blog. My primary blogging goal is to write compelling content. Because I want people to read my posts first and foremost, I carefully consider anything that could intrude on that experience. As a result, I’ve settled on Google Adsense and the occasional Amazon link, as they are the least intrusive and the most contextually relevant to my audience (I write about technology with movie and music reviews).

But my priorities are such that if I had to choose between advertising or my readership, I’d take the ads down – and write for free. In a sense, I’d be my own “ad blocker”.

So if ad-blockers are “evil,” would a blog with no ads be “evil” as well? I don’t think so. Therefore, I feel this whole attempt to make ad-blocking into a moral issue is a bit misguided.

One cool thing about blogging are the multitude of different reasons why people are drawn to the medium (as varied as there are bloggers). To say those that don’t have ads or block them are immoral is putting people down who may simply have no need to treat the Internet as a gigantic billboard.

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  1. By Moses Francis posted on September 19, 2007 at 7:21 am
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    That’s a good list of 4 types of ads that are irritating, i don’t like number 1 the most.

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  2. By Michael posted on September 19, 2007 at 7:54 am
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    I just wish that a few bad apple’s didn’t spoil the whole bunch, it is all of those nasty websites who are using intrusive ads that have hurt all of those who use ads nicely. People should realize that ads IS the way the internet works, there are two options, either deal with seeing ads or pay for the content you are viewing, it is just that simple. If more and more people use ad blockers then it will get extremely difficult to make money online, come on guys, just deal with the ads, they aren’t that bad, if you are on a site where the ads are really bad then just leave.

    Reply

  3. By Amrit Hallan - Content Blog posted on September 19, 2007 at 8:30 am
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    Both point-of-views are correct. Reader shouldn’t mind ads as long as they don’t obstruct the content they are trying to access, and the advertisers shouldn’t blow their ads into their readers’ faces, as it happens on some websites.

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  4. By Webomatica posted on September 19, 2007 at 3:58 pm
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    Thanks for the comments. Obviously it is a balance between ads and content – many bloggers hope to make a little bit of money to cover ad costs. I suppose the ultimate test is if your pageviews goes down if you launch certain types of ads. That might be a sign that the ads are driving people away.

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  5. By Rod posted on September 19, 2007 at 6:54 pm
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    I do use Adblock Plus, but even if I weren’t, I don’t click on ads anyway, so am I still cutting of a revenue source for a site?

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  6. Is AdBlock "Evil"? » Webmaster-SourceSeptember 19, 2007 at 8:19 pm
  7. By Skellie posted on September 20, 2007 at 3:22 am
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    I couldn’t agree more. The argument that readers should be allowed to block ads seems nonsensical to me. You may as well legislate against fast-forwarding commercials on programs you’ve recorded.

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  8. By Skellie posted on September 20, 2007 at 3:23 am
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    Sorry, that should be ‘the argument that readers *shouldn’t* be allowed to block ads’. Whoops.

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  9. By Jermayn Parker posted on September 20, 2007 at 6:05 am
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    I have also blogged a bit on adverts, I personally do not have adverts on my blog and I think most blogs should not have adverts as it limits the control of what appears on your website.
    I have seen one website talking about the web etc and one of the adverts for Amazon was for a “Wonder Bra” and the author was a guy!

    http://germworks.net/blog/2007/09/07/how-to-cure-advert-blindness/
    http://germworks.net/blog/2007/04/16/adverts-do-they-add-or-take-away-from-a-website/

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  10. By Dave posted on September 21, 2007 at 2:51 am
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    Anyone running a blog that contqains any type of pop up ads is just asking for trouble. Plain and simple pop up ads are evil.

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  11. Ad Blocking From a Reader’s Perpsective » Reader Appreciation ProjectSeptember 21, 2007 at 8:28 am
  12. By brightfeather posted on September 22, 2007 at 12:07 am
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    I find it despicable that Mark Evans and his cohorts would try to demonize me for not choosing to have any advertising at all on my blog. You bettcha I use adblock.

    More to the point I do not return to blogs that are plastered with ads. I do not link to blogs that are plastered with ads. I do not be-friend anyone who is obsessed with making an income from blog advertising in social networks either.

    I really don’t care what those who have dollar signs in their eyes and cash registers where their hearts ought to be have to say.

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  13. Is Ad Blocking Immoral? Does it Matter?October 1, 2007 at 2:42 am
  14. Look! No ads on the blog! «October 31, 2007 at 11:05 am

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