Every time I read the comments under a story, Digg post or forum thread that has even a small mention of adverts on web pages there is always at least one, but often MANY MORE, posts from people saying “I never see adverts” or “I use AdBlock so it doesn’t bother me” or annoyingly “what ads?”.
I can sympaphise with people that block ads, some websites go well over the top with the flashy, noisy, introcive banners and other sites aren’t using particularly trustworthy ad servers – so you could end up with all sorts of crap loaded on to your computer if you’re not careful.
But there is another side to this as well. I don’t normally contribute to threads about adverts on websites because my point of view seems to be the polar opposite of many others.
If you read some of these threads you get the feeling that they think everything should be free, there should be no adverts and they shouldn’t have to do anything to get what they want.
Content isn’t free though – ok it might appear to come online for nothing – this blog for instance doesn’t cost you a sausage and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to pay to read my ramblings – but it still costs me to host it, the domain name costs money and although I do it for passion – it still costs time to produce.
The same applies to other sites, especially newspapers and magazines where the content is written by professional writers who need to be paid, has heavy bandwidth that costs a small fortune and often includes images that have rights costs associated with them.
With this in mind I posted this simple comment to a thread on a message board about adverts on a popular magazine website recently “I don’t mean to sound harsh or anything but don’t you feel guilty about using adblock?”
My argument FOR leaving AdBlock off is a simple one – its the ads that cover the costs of running the website – it’s been made fairly clear that people aren’t prepared to pay for content online so the advertising model has been flourishing as a way of covering the costs of paying journalists, bandwidth bills etc.
At the moment not enough people use adblock for it to matter but if it does spread and nobody is seeing ads – do you think content on sites like topgear.com or guardian.co.uk will stay free for long?
I personally make a point of looking at ads on a site and if it interests me – clicking on the ad – after all – if I’ve enjoyed the content provided by that site – for free – then I think I owe them a little of my time in return.
If a website doesn’t get enough money to cover costs it will be forced to drop staff or cut services – nobody wants to see that from a site they enjoy.
Also – with advertising revenue and sales dropping through the floor in the traditional newspaper business – online revenue is going to become ever more important – that means showing adverts.
Good quality content doesn’t come cheap. Top writers charge a lot of money for their words, great photographers go to great legnths to get the photo and expect to be rewarded – musicians deserve some reward for their craft, talent and art – and so do film makers.
If everybody had the same attitude as some on forums, comments etc then nothing would get made. I do think we pay too much for some content – £15 for a DVD when it first comes out is rediculous – especially as the creatives behind the film see very little of the profit made in the end – Music is even more of a telling tale with most of the money going to the labels.
But we’re starting to break free from that now – musicians are releasing their own music and getting more of the final profit – indie films are becomming more popular and finding wider markets and soon we’ll see authors doing much the same.
Back to websites – A question I was wondering was “would you pay a monthly subscription for your favourite website in order to have the adverts turned off?”
For example – its very likely that people outside the UK are going to start seeing adverts across bbc.co.uk soon – the idea being that with half of the sites users coming from outside the UK, or people that don’t pay the licence fee that covers the sites costs – those people should contribute something.
Would you pay a monthly subscription of, say $5 to be able to view everything on bbc.co.uk without adverts?
Another question I was thinking about was “If a way was found for sites to be able to block access to anyone with AdBlock enabled – would you disable adblock to view the site or stop using it completely?”