Why Display Ads are the Lifeblood of Online Publishing
There’s an interesting debate going on about a potential new feature for Adblock Plus–a Firefox plugin that automatically blocks web site ads from displaying.
I’m not so much interested in the proposed new feature–it would allow webmasters to ask for permission to display their ads, in case you care–but the discussion that followed in the comments.
The majority of commenters reacted negatively and really opened my eyes to the sentiment many people have towards online ads. Comments included…
I use Ad Block Plus because I don’t want to see adverts, any adverts at any time. I will never click on them, I will always be annoyed by them. The tiny minority of a tiny minority (ad block users of firefox users) don’t want to see them either. If ad block plus starts allowing ads or constantly nagging me then it will be forked – because it’s defeating its whole purpose – and I’ll use the fork.
I use Adblock because I don’t want to see ads. Ever. Seeing ads is a bug, getting content is a feature.
Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the right to customize the web to ensure their own pleasurable experience, but do these people understand what they’re wishing for?
They’re basically wishing for a web without any advertising. No banner ads, no text ads, no ads period! OK, so we all come across annoying ads now and then, but ads are often the only reason we get to enjoy the content we enjoy reading.
Do you think your local newspaper exists purely for the benefit of the community?
Do you think Wired magazine is published purely out of a love for technology?
Do these people take a pair of scissors to their issue of Fast Company and don’t read a single article until they’ve cut-out every advertisement?
(At this point, about half of you are still reading this post. The other half have either moved on to another post–out of boredom–or have already jumped to the comments-weighing in, while only reading the first few lines of this post.)
The majority of quality published content exists because it is ad supported. Let me tell you, Marketing Pilgrim would likely either not exist or be severely reduced, if it weren’t for our advertising revenue stream. While I love writing about marketing, I don’t love it enough to dedicate hours each day without any return.
Maybe you could live without us–we’re just one site, after all–but remove advertising from the web, and you’ll lose many, many great sites.
What’s even more disturbing is the lack of alternatives. Studies have shown that you won’t pay to read Marketing Pilgrim, so there’s really no alternative but to display ads.
I guess my point is that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Maybe the comment “Seeing ads is a bug, getting content is a feature” is just one person’s extreme viewpoint, but I suspect that there are many more web users that feel the same way. The web is full of rich, valuable content. Like anything in life, things of value need compensating. Get rid of the compensation (advertising) and you get rid of the value (content).
I’d ask you how you feel about display ads, but you’re all marketers! So, instead, I’d love to know if you have any thoughts on how to monetize a content site, without display ads. Is it even possible?