Ads, we love to hate them. They get in our way of instant gratification. Why wait 5 seconds before I can watch my video I want to see right….. Now!
But do we stop to consider just how much these ads actually keep our favorite sites up and running?
The internet is a powerful tool. Whether it’s staying in touch with people half way across the world in an instant or sharing news that the world needs to hear, it’s a tool that has become invaluable in our daily lives. We have become almost dependent on the internet for daily intake of whatever it is that we deem important. It’s no wonder that media agencies the world over sell and pay for digital ad space. Almost the whole world is connected. You cannot ask for a better platform.
This opened up avenues for people to make a living off of the internet. Whether it’s a Youtube channel or a news site, it’s now possible to make an income if you can find your niche and gather enough traffic while running ads on your site or channel. However this is becoming more and more difficult. Especially for new starts. Why? Ad Blockers.
We are bombarded by ads almost everywhere now. What used to be a TV ad between shows is now a 30 second ad that we have to watch for a minimum of 5 seconds on every video. What used to be a billboard on the way to work is now a square block somewhere on the web page we are viewing. It almost feels as though these ads stalk us wherever we browse. This leads to the inevitable download of ad blockers. Ad blockers declutter sites we visit, it speeds up our viewing pleasure so that we can watch other people play games [I still cannot fathom why it’s fun to watch other people play games].
Ad blockers are nice for us but it hurts the sites we “support” regularly. Every blocked ad is lost revenue. We tend to forget that some of the sites we visit, are businesses with staff to pay. Ad blockers can result in the people running that site/channel to have to take up second jobs. This inevitably leads to lower quality videos/news/etc;
I myself find it difficult just to update my personal blog regularly while trying to juggle work, family and a social life. I’m not complaining as I make no money here. But I often sit and wonder what levels of stress others go through that have to juggle work, family, social lives and a site that is trying to generate revenue.
Now yes, ad blockers do allow “whitelisting” of sites where you choose not to block ads so that you can truly support your favorite site. I guess there is a counter argument that it helps to streamline the information highway but I just don’t know if that is a strong enough argument for ad blockers. What would happen if, for example, I decided to run this blog full time to generate revenue? Would I ever actually get off the ground? Let’s say I start gaining enough traffic and I feel it’s time to place a few ad spaces on the site. I ad them… and… nothing…. Why? Because the majority of users most likely use ad blockers. Since I am a new startup I wouldn’t be in anyone’s whitelist to allow ads. So it’s doomed to stay a personal blog that will never amount to much for all eternity.
Now I paint a bit of a bleak picture and yes I use this site just as an example. But I am sure there are others out there, trying to get going that simply cannot because revenue simply isn’t enough. You have to ask yourself, by simply making your browser look less cluttered while browsing that site you visit everyday, are you actually contributing to that site or are you freeloading? Sounds harsh, but you are reading that news for free whereas a newspaper you have to go out and pay for. TV you have to pay a TV licence.
On the internet we don’t yet have subscription to news sites as a standard. But the change is happening. Youtube just recently announced that they are getting a paid for service with no ads. There are news sites that are starting or already have implemented “Paywalls” to their content to try and generate the revenue . This is the same way all of the things we don’t like started. Small, unobtrusive and it steadily grows until it’s the norm. Microtransactions, always-online games, poor quality DLC, day 1 patches. All of these started small. A few here and there. Now it’s mainstream and pretty much guaranteed.
Now, yes, I know that there are sites that overdo their ad space. Some sites feel more like a classifieds section in a newspaper than an actual site with any useful information on it. But instead of ad-blocking to get the content, I’d rather use a different site to get the information I crave on a daily basis. It’s too easy to say “Ads are bombarding me and I cannot stand so much useless, cluttered nonsense that destroys my browsing experience” but forget that people who need to make a living get caught in the crossfire.
I think it’s up to us to ensure that sites don’t suffer. Be part of their sustainability. Don’t like a site due to too many ads? Don’t visit. Vote with your visit. Don’t just block everything. You are responsible for the way the internet shapes itself. The internet is user driven. This leaves us with a responsibility. Use it wisely. Remember, no ads mean no free content.