I use adblockers and I’m not ashamed to say it.
And before you jump to conclusions and labelling, let me get my point across.
I’m not alone in this and I know that the reasons for the use of these adblockers comes down to understanding the fundamental reason for blocking ads.
Why does anyone block anything?
You block a contact or a website or an ad because it’s not something you want to see anymore.
It’s possibly distracting, misleading or obtrusive. or all of the above, and more.
Now multiply that annoyance across the countless webpages and apps you encounter each day and you start to get an experience that is less than ideal.
It then snowballs and becomes too much.
An adblocker puts a stop to it (as best as it can) and you end up with a clutter free experience without the extra annoyances (I say extra because publishers can find other ways to annoy you).
Of course this is a downside because so many publishers rely on ad revenue to keep the lights on.
Many have reacted a bit more emphatically by imploring you to consider a paid subscription or to take a deeper look into how/why they run ads and even provide them with feedback to better the advertising experience so it still keeps everyone happy.
And that, I don’t mind.
Of course if you’re forcing people behind a paywall or to pay to read content (almost exclusively), then I think most people will just find an alternative source.
Not to say that people are selfish but when you can get something for free, more people are inclined to go that route.
Understand one thing: people use adblockers because they hate ads, not publishers.
What bugs me is the fact that adblocking is nothing new.
Publishers have been well aware of their existence for some time and have had years to try and find a way to appease everyone.
So the sudden rise in discussion about adblockers is a bit strange.
It could be due to recent reports that some adblockers were/are being paid to make exceptions (much to the ire of the ad-hating mob) or could be that somehow, publishers, are now feeling more than just a pinch and are being forced to make hard decisions.
Either way, it’s not fair to blame the users.
After all, the whole reason why they rushed to use adblockers in the first place was because of widespread abuse of ads.
Ads coming up anywhere and everywhere, disrupting the content consumption process and forcing people to turn away.
Think about it, wouldn’t you rather a page that contained ads but didn’t disrupt the viewing experience?
There’s a fine line here of course because the fewer ads you run, the less money you are likely to make in theory but surely the solution isn’t to throw in more ads and hope to make some cash through accidental clicks.
The onus is on the publisher to get it right (or at least, start walking down that path).
This article on MakeUseOf.com argues that with the rise of adblockers, the reliance on ads for revenue and the growing anti-ad sentiment, publishers need to innovate or die. Strong words but it’s gotta be said.
After all, publishers are always told about creating compelling content, because content is king and great content keeps users coming back, and so on.
Publishers then need to monetise this content but without the reliance on ads.
I would certainly pay to have a 10 part series of a topic of interest delivered to me on a weekly basis, if I felt it was worth it and would be of tremendous value to my career.
It might be an oversimplification on my part but I don’t think I’m completely off the mark.
I know hosting costs money, paying people costs money – building these amazing mountains of content costs money but when you get desperate and bombard users with ads in an effort to stay alive, you really can’t blame them for the using adblockers.
As for end users, there’s plenty you can still do that serves your interests as well as those of publishers:
Consider going ad-block free for a few hours a day or even a whole day.
See what other ways you can financially support your favourite publishers without relying on ads.
If a site you love either has or is starting to show a lot of ads that are eroding the user experience, why not get in touch and let them know that you love them but they need to change things up a bit.
Encourage others who feel the same, to do the same.
I don’t think a publisher would consider it unreasonable to revise their ad strategy if some fans came their way with well meaning advice.
After all, you’re doing this for the users, right?