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Half of Destructoid's readers block our ads. Now what? (destructoid.com)
57 points by chaostheory on Mar 9, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 95 comments

I kind of wish the majority of people would use ad blockers. Ads are a pretty flawed business model, useful mostly because it's so easy. When you sell ads you're basically abusing your readership, pimping out their eyeballs to whomever happens to hand you a big wad of sweaty cash.

There are better ways to make money, ways that don't abuse users and instead provide them with value.

Edit: so much vitriol. I intentionally left out alternatives because there is no one size fits all model, but there are plenty of options. For example, consider changing from a model of "advertisers pay to rent the eyeballs coming to our site" to one where ads are a cooperative venture and most ads are essentially recommendations. Look for ways to make the link between someone reading your content and someone buying something a connection, instead of merely a random, uncorrelated activity. For artistic content sites, sell swag like t-shirts. Or consider selling byproducts and content collections such as physical and ebooks (for blogs, for example). If you run a site that provides a service ... consider charging money for that service. And of course look at crowd funding models if it's possible to divide up work into big project sized iterative chunks.

Or, hell, just offer people the ability to pay money to remove the ads. If you just stop thinking and stop caring after you started bringing in big ad revenue then you're doing a disservice to your readership.

Perhaps you should suggest a few? I'd love to see what you have in mind. This (monetizing online written content) isn't as trivial as you seem to imply.

Thats exactly the point, so ads are a lousy way to try and solve it. Micropayment systems like Flattr [1] could be a solution, but they lack adoption and walled gardens hinder integration. If you have a loyal community and continued updates, Flattr can be worthwhile [2] (sorry, Google translate; the important part is the graph).

1: http://flattr.com/about 2: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&...

>I kind of wish the majority of people would use ad blockers. Ads are a pretty flawed business model

Compared to what?

>There are better ways to make money

Like? Asking for charity on Kickstart or Donations?

Because surely asking people to pay for casual web content is not one of them.

> Look for ways to make the link between someone reading your content and someone buying something a connection, instead of merely a random, uncorrelated activity.

What do you think targeted advertising is?

> Or consider selling byproducts and content collections such as physical and ebooks (for blogs, for example).

Revenues from this sort of thing won't even cover operational costs for someone of Destructiod's size, let alone provide recurring revenue.

"Premium" services that just remove ads are generally a non-starter because...AdBlock does that for free. Subscriptions are awesome, but you have to find a way to implement a paywall where some content or value is withheld from free consumers, and that's a problem that has proved very difficult for content providers like Destructoid to solve on an internet where people expect to get their content for free.

I think that the subscription model is great, and there are places where I would be willing to pay if they moved in that direction. I pay $16 a month for a NYT subscription.

One issue is that some people seem to be even more offended by the subscription model than the advertising model.

The biggest problem with many of the "alternatives" is that they don't really work. They only really work for lone cowboys who only have themselves to feed.

1.) Recommendations don't work at scale. You are not going to find a single company to fund gaming journalism company in order to do tighter recommendations, and you aren't going to have enough man power to manage recommendations for multiple companies. Amazingly enough, there is a company called Google that provides a similar service to this, and I doubt destructoid can compete with them.

2.) Selling T-shirts is a terrible business model for a company that doesn't produce t-shirts. Again this works for the lone-cowboy, but for an actual company expecting to recuperate costs with t-shirts it would be simpler to just open a clothing line. Producing t-shirts isn't free and you once you have a sizable market its no longer easy. Now instead of hiring writers, you find yourself hiring sweatshops.

3.) Selling physical books only works for the lone cowboys (smbc, oatmeal). If you have to do it at scale, it would be smarter to just open a bookstore. And again, why should anyone buy an ebook when they could just use Readability for free?

4.) Charing for your service. This makes the most sense, NYT does it and is really successful. Problem is, it might only work for NYT. Its hard to convince gamers who in a large part don't buy their games, to pay for your service. Out of all the sites you ad-block, how many of them would you actually pay for? If Kotaku required a subscription for their service, would you actually pay for it?

Its easy to be an armchair MBA and claim ads are the problem and anything else would work without having tried it yourself, or list companies who are doing so successfully. Its just completely unfair to assume that the guys actually busting their butts trying to make it work are lazy because they use ads. If you really think these alternate models really work, you should start your company with them. With no competitors you are certain to eat the market.

Until then, please understand that online journalism, and print media in general, is really hurting to find a business model that actually works and they aren't using ads out of laziness. They are using ads to pay the bills.

2) T-shirts are a great business model, there's a reason why so many web comics do it. They provide a healthy profit margin at comparatively low overhead. For a reasonably popular site t-shirt revenue can be as much or more than advertising revenue. I'll point to Topatoco as an example here, it's a company that provides fulfillment for t-shirts and similar merch for 3rd party content creators, and is successful enough that it services several dozen such creators. Given that they manage to employ something like a dozen staff (including part-time employees) and they operate on a lower commission than many other similar services I think that's a good indicator of how successful that business model can be for the creators.

3) See #2. As for why anyone would buy a book, because a book is compiled and easier to read. Whether or not you think it's reasonable the market certainly does. 37 Signals book "Rework" is a bestseller and one of the top selling books in the entrepreneurship category. Look at the popularity of the Joel on Software books as well.

As for your final point, I disagree. Online journalism is still following the, now obsolete, model of traditional journalism. One concentrated on access, aggregation, and conduits rather than original content. Most journalism is, frankly, trash. It's regurgitation. Find one article on a news story and I can point you to hundreds of copies of the same material with no significant value added, splattered across so many "news" sites. Aggregation of that sort is no longer significantly valuable in the internet age. And sites that don't offer significant added original value are going to die. The internet is very, very good at disintermediating valueless intermediaries.

OK, I hate replying to myself, but this is a pretty significant and contentious issue, so I think it's worth it.

Here are some example of folks who I think "do it right", or at least well, relative to the standard "slap ads on and forget about it" model:

Penny Arcade (a web comic, for those who don't know). Firstly, their ads have always gone through a rigorous selection process. Most ads are for games and the site owners demand that they play the games in the ads and they only pick ads for games they actually like a lot. Thus the ads serve as recommendations more than anything, they are not just hijacking your attention they represent actual value (the effort put into reviewing the games). Additionally, PA has a line of merch which includes not only t-shirts and posters but also collections of the comic strip organized by year in physical book form. Beyond that they also run a major gaming convention (Penny Arcade Expo / PAX) and have other projects (such as PATV). This provides diversified sources of income all founded ultimately on the fan base and enthusiasm for what PA does and is about. More so, last year PA launched a successful kickstarter to remove the main banner ad from the site and, as one of the stretch goals, to kick off a major content production (the web video reality-show called "strip search"). Now, not every web comic is going to be able to do all of these things but these are good examples of how you translate "what you're good at and what you do" into money.

A similar example would be "A List Apart", a web design blog. There are very few ads on their site and those that are there are highly relevant to the readership. More importantly, ALA sells books which include material that has already been on the site as well as new material, and they run the "An Event Apart" design conference.

37 Signals falls into a similar pattern. They sell collaboration, project management, and contact management services but they also have a well regarded blog. They sometimes package up material from the blog into book form, which they sell, and they have significant contributions to major open source software projects (such as Ruby on Rails). All of these things together help further their brand and drive business to their services and books. Their blog has a small number of highly relevant ads. Indeed, they helped found an ad company which serves well-vetted highly relevant ads to a cohort of web sites that are all generally focused around web design.

Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange. They have a small number of highly relevant ads (I detect a trend). Also, if you are a regular user of the site then you won't see the main banner ad on question pages when logged in. They also monetize through jobs boards, CV services (which provide a great synergy with use of a site and help show off your expertise directly), and amazon referrals.

GitHub and Dropbox have free service tiers but also charge money for their services, and GitHub has a job board.

There are a lot of broad trends here. The best ads are those that add value rather than try to hijack the user's attention, relevant ads that have had work put in to ensure they are relevant, and ads that are not intrusive. If your site is mostly content focused then finding ways of repackaging content and selling it directly can bring in plenty of income. As can finding ways to allow your fans to express their enthusiasm and trust for your content by buying things (merch) or attending events. And leveraging whatever it is users get out of your site through additional services.

If users are going out of their way to block your ads that's a signal, it means that they find the ads are providing negative value to them. And that's often the result of allowing ads to have negative value, by simply passing them off to folks who are willing to pay money for the possibility of infringing on your readers' attentions. Otherwise known as spam. Would you change your site to one where you required readers to give an email address and then you sold all of those addresses to spammers in order to make money? That's what many sites are effectively doing by being so indiscriminate about advertising.

If you're not thinking about how your site is making money and whether that method makes sense, is sustainable, and adds value to your readership then you're not thinking about it enough. You're taking your readers for granted.

It's sad but the reality is that you need adblockers to use many websites, Google and other search engines being among the worst offenders.

The world's biggest advertiser has made the use of adblockers necessary, if you want to use their engine http://www.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/1... or http://www.seobook.com/images/google-serp-layout.gif and not see just ads. Once activated for a site that has abused ads, others are hurt almost by default.

I really want to hear the hypothetical ways in your mind; so far you have said nothing of value; just talking bad about current way of doing things instead of suggesting a way companies selling products could reach the market without using ads.

Here is my startup idea: an ad company that also allows people to register and pay a few pennies per article in order to turn off all ads for anyone participating in the network, and for a little bit of premium / exclusive content that nobody else gets access to.

You set the price high enough that sites will want to actively switch to your network, since the premium users are worth a little more than the free users. And you require as a condition of membership that 1 article in 50 (or whatever) is premium-only content.

Are you getting paid by impressions or actual clicks?

If you are getting paid by impressions, I do feel a little bad for blocking your ads, but you have to understand that the reason I put up the adblock is a reaction to ad-abuse. I'm sick and tired of seeing ads scrolling up and down and across the page, interrupting your content. I'm sick and tired of pages taking 30 seconds to load because of ad-bloat, and I'm sick and tired of the generally bad experience that ads are bringing to me. Don't even get me started on pop-up ads or ads with music or talking.

If you are getting paid for actual clicks, then I don't feel bad at all. I never once, in all the years I have browsed the internet, clicked on an ad, so you aren't gaining anything from me anyways.

As an aside: I can't name a single ad that I have seen over the past week. Marketers thinking that ad-views are somehow equivalent in impact of billboards or TV ads are stuck in some dinosaur age of marketing and I ought to open up ads in pure spite.

The crux of the issue is that too many sites have abused its readership by thumping our heads with pointless and useless ads. The day I see you respect me is the day I'll respect you. This is no way implies that Destructoid is abusive, but unfortunately, you have been caught in the maelstrom. However, since I only click away the ads that irritate me, I find it odd that a site that I have never been to is apparently completely blocked as I see no ads. Choose your advertisers wisely and I may not even block (or notice) their ads.

> I can't name a single ad that I have seen over the past week

Ads aren't trying to get you to remember the ads, they're trying to get you to recognize, like, buy, etc the product. That can happen without remembering or actively paying attention to the ad.

I won't go on a hunt for a list of research confirming it, but there are about hundreds if not thousands of examples explaining that marketing does work, whether its audience thinks it does or not.

tl;dr Even if you believe you'll never click an ad, you're probably still hurting the advertiser and therefore the publisher.

Which is the justification for pay-per-impression ads. Grandparent says that they are sorry if they are pay-per-impression; what difference does blocking or not make though if they're pay-per-click, and they never click?

You hit the nail on the head. If it is per impression, then yes, there is some information they would like me to have and there is some profit that this site is receiving from those impressions. It is fair game then to have me see those ads if that is what the model is as long as this model isn't abused.

If the pay-per-click is supposed to piggy back on free impressions then I have zero conscience of denying them free advertising.

The 'elephant in the room' of a question: what do you feel gives you the right to block ads? The content-creators establish the terms, and their deal is you get content in exchange for ad-viewership. If you're unwilling to view ads, don't partake in the exchange -- do not visit that site.

It's not a contract to which I've agreed though. If they want me to get content in exchange for something, then they should make sure I do, otherwise, they are putting things on an open server that I can easily read from. What I tell my browser to take from it is up to me,

Would you have a problem with me reading the site in lynx?

You could enforce a contract by having a paid for membership, as he alludes to, which gives you rights to see articles early or have post rights on a forum or gives you some physical thing.

>It's not a contract to which I've agreed though. If they want me to get content in exchange for something, then they should make sure I do, otherwise, they are putting things on an open server that I can easily read from. What I tell my browser to take from it is up to me,

You are conflating the practical ability to do something with the moral right to do something.

The fact that something cannot be enforced is a practical problem, not a moral one. A rural car-park owner may have no practical method to force people using his car park to leave money in an honesty box [1]. His request for payment may have no legal standing. Neither of these points has any influence on the moral value of not leaving the requested payment.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honesty_box

What makes using an honesty-box moral? It is not that one side has dictated the terms.

Imagine finding an empty car-park, parking your car, approaching the honesty-box and finding a note declaring the owner does not expect money but instead expects to be paid in teeth: and would the car-park users please pull-out a tooth and deposit it. Would that be moral?

Yes, one could say it is moral to all follow a general rule of reciprocating, of giving something as well as receiving. But what and how much?

The morality of cooperative interaction is not about what one person wants, it is about how all are affected.

Saying what exact actions and amounts would be moral is in general an impossible calculation. But what would clearly not be moral is one party dictating to the other. Once you deliberately offer to engage in cooperative interaction you alone no longer set the rules.

You bring up good points. But I'm still not sure about the 'not a contract to which I've agreed' part. Couldn't it be argued that there exists an open understanding by all parties that the content creation is sustained purely through ads -- and all site visitors are softly agreeing to these general terms upon site access?

> Couldn't it be argued that there exists an open understanding by all parties that the content creation is sustained purely through ads -- and all site visitors are softly agreeing to these general terms upon site access?

No. Absolutely not.

What about an older browser that can't properly display javascript? What about someone using a screenreader? What about when I use Lynx from a terminal window?

There is no implied relationship. There is no contract. A website hands me a block of text and I can choose which text to render.

Something like 92% of browsers support javascript. Fuck off with this stupid, trite red herring.

You want content. You are not owed content.

> You want content. You are not owed content.

Then put it behind a paywall.

It's my browser, my choice to display what I want, how I want. You don't come into the equation, even if you are the content owner. Either charge for it, or stop whining.

The entire thesis of my post had nothing to do with a benign willingness to block or unblock ads. I block ads simply because I am sick of all the things I mentioned in my OP. The point is that they stepped over lines that I feel should not be crossed and I blocked them because they disrespected me. I would posit that many people are sick of it and any non-tech person could easily open google and ask "How do I stop all these irritating ads on websites?" and they will be taken to adblock.

Obviously, advertising is a service, but if sites learned to tone it down instead of money-grabbing and causing a miserable experience for their readership, they should actually be thankful for adblocks. Without adblocks, many people would simply click the back-button, cause their bounce rate to go through the roof, they drop off the front page of google, and they would have no views to brag about to advertisers.

What gives you the impression that a site has the right to force you to view ads?

Also, what bizarro universe are we living in where viewing ads is seen to have some sort of value or merit on its own? If I were to watch broadcast tv, for example, and in one instance watch all of the advertisements dutifully and in the next skip all the ads with a dvr but in both cases on no account be influenced in any way to buy the products advertised, is there a difference (morally or commercially) between either behavior?

I would suggest that I have no more obligation to watch advertisements than I do to buy anything being advertised.

Ads are just content that you're delivering to the end user. The user has zero obligation to view that content, or your native content, or any other kind of content. Ad sales are predicated upon this understanding, and it's why delivery rates (rather than just content pageviews) are such a big deal for content providers and advertisers.

Are you implying that it's also wrong to skip television ads with a DVR?

> This means that we're working twice as hard as other sites to sustain our company

This must be wrong. Surely if Destructoid are seeing a 50% block rate, their competitors must be seeing something similar too? A world with ad-blockers is the new normal for everyone.

Ad-blockers aren't going away. The fundamental architecture of the internet and the web makes it almost impossible to force people to view ads that they don't want to, and no advertiser is going to win the technological arms-race against the ad-blocking software. For now, at least, I have sufficient control over my own computer that I can dictate what appears on the screen.

I think the right conclusions are reached in this article though. Destructoid clearly understand the marketplace they're operating in, and a membership option of some kind is a good, non-exploitative way of earning money from content creation. It might not work, and there might be better alternatives, but someone is going to find a way that does work. The existence of ad blockers is providing "evolutionary" pressure toward business models that don't rely on spamming people with crap, and this is a good thing. (Assuming, that is, that the new business models aren't somehow worse, at which point we'll have to start blocking those...)

> it almost impossible to force people to view ads that they don't want to

It's trivial to do, technically. Just embed the ads with in-page (not externally linked) JS, or proxy 3rd party ad network requests through the hosting server, or splice them in on the server side, etc. I think we are going to see this widely adopted if the adblock rates continue climbing up.

This will obviously rub the adblock users the wrong way, but if you are generating the ad revenue from a lot of one-time visitors, it should be fine. Then, to not alienate repeated visitors, offer a paid, ad-free subscription. Perhaps of a freemium flavor. Done.

Now the question is why we don't see this being done at scale yet?

I think one day we'll head in the direction of paid content with an app store-like micro-payment system that allows us to chip in .05-.25 to view a single article if we deem it worth it. I'd personally rather do this than pay a $10/mo subscription fee for content I won't use every single day.

Been thinking about how the architecture for this will work for years now, lol. If I don't get to it, I hope someone executes it someday.

The most popular ad blocker, Adblock Plus, not only supports blocking URL patterns, it can hide elements within a page via arbitrary CSS selectors. Any large-scale attempt to bypass Adblock Plus would be a cat-and-mouse game requiring advertisers to constantly change their DOM "signature" to keep ahead of the filter writers.

That doesn't really help. A simple crowdsourced "see an ad? highlight it and it goes away" system would work against that. Adds have content, and that content can be used to find and block them, even if their source is the same as the page content.

Yes, that could happen, but it almost certainly wouldn't.

The general problem with ad blockers is that they are a set-and-forget scorched-earth solution to the problem of annoying ads. As a web publisher, it doesn't matter if you carefully tweak your ads to be as unobtrusive and relevant to the user as possible, because users running ad blockers won't see them to begin with. Asking users to whitelist your site is a non-starter.

If you use some fairly trivial tactics to prevent your ads being blocked by the default settings of the ad blocker, the vast majority of users with an ad blocker will never bother to set up some custom filter to block your specific ads because the default settings are the program for 95% of people.

If you have some really obnoxious ads then yes, perhaps more people will go to the bother of blocking them. But if you don't, I assert that almost no-one will bother.

If you're facebook, the people who maintain blocklists for popular ad-blockers will write some custom rules for your new ads. But most sites aren't facebook.

I don't know what kind of block you use, but adblock plus can be used to block certain elements on sites -- it works even for non-ads such as facebooks "spam your friends inbox and alinate them all" box.

So I don't really care where the ad comes from.

You seem to be assuming that the only way to block ads is a blacklist of domains that JS won't be loaded from.

Adblock can already block stuff like this, easily.

It's much easier to update ad blockers to block new ways of displaying ads, than it is to come up with new ways of displaying ads that can't be blocked.

I thought so too.

But not necessarily. It wouldn't be that difficult to embed the article in an image, with the ad inside the image -- you could then redirect clicks with a box around the ads the advertiser.

Leave the first paragraph or so as text for google purposes. That would be really annoying to work around but rather trivial to implement.

The article text could be extracted trivially with OCR.

Ad blockers can block this the same way they currently block JS links, by searching for ads embedded in the page and removing them. If the ads contain any sort of recognizable div wrapper, blocking them will be trivial.

But even if they don't, you should be able to deploy a statistical ad blocker in the same vein as Paul Graham's spam filter (which is mainstream at this point).

None of this stops the situation from continuing to be a cat and mouse game, but hopefully the above points demonstrate that the game is far from over for either side.

>This must be wrong. Surely if Destructoid are seeing a 50% block rate, their competitors must be seeing something similar too? A world with ad-blockers is the new normal for everyone.

Surely not. Depends on the target audience of each site. Direct competitors with the same target group maybe, but sites appealing to the general public or specialized non-techy publics surely not.

I would have assumed that competitor sites were the most relevant comparison to draw. It is highly likely that Destructoid sees a higher rate of ad-blocking than, say, yahoo.com, but that's not really relevant as Destructoid isn't competing with Yahoo!.

Maybe, but the point remains.

While having having X readers PLUS the infrastructure costs to support X readers, they see the same revenue as more general sites having X/2 readers.

If there weren't ad-blockers, the absolute reader count would be the only thing that mattered.

As it was in the press era. It didn't matter if you were the New York Times or the LISP Quarterly, if you had managed to have X readers you got the same amount of ad money (well, not 100% the same, because it also depended on the demographic, but LISP and NYT would rank close enough).

it's even likely that they see higher rates of ad blocking than IGN, because they are a bit more niche among gaming blogs.

As long as ads are in the markup, they can be blocked. It might take a hand-crafted CSS selector, but that's nothing impossible.

The article was unreadable due to ridiculous ads, a dumb mobile version and a read more.. link that reloaded the page only. So three suggestions: 1: focus on helping readers read content. Eliminate everything that gets in the way if that. (End user needs) 2: reduce the volume and spammiess of your ads, in all markets. (Quality of advertising reflects quality of site) 3: do a slashdot, and add a paid subscription that removes all advertising for a period. (Allow people to give you money). 3a: as an alternative offer a gold/pro version with greater benefits, not all which have to be that tangible.

Speaking as someone who runs a subscription site, there are a few key phrases to note in this article. I think the writer needs to face reality about ads vs paywalls.

I certainly wouldn't put up the sites you know today behind a paywall - Why not? Is there a law that says once free, always free? Slam it behind a paywall and you will lose 90% or more of your audience. But! You'll make money. That's the tradeoff.

My appeal read something to the effect that ad blockers primarily hurt our writers, and if you are reading our site, we'd like your support - Then ask for support the old fashioned way, by them giving you money in exchange for the service you provide.

one reader who, despite willingly denying our passive revenue, thought I was being too bold - Wrong. He's not willingly denying your passive revenue. He's installing an ad blocker to improve his browsing experience. You happen to be caught in that net. It's not like he got out of bed and said, "Hey, I'm going to screw Destructoid today"

Now, I'm not saying that paywalls are a solution to every problem. But I will say that appealing to people to disable ad blockers is not a solution to any problem. And blaming your users like this will never turn out well.

I apologize for my naivety here, but it would seem that the best (in the general sense, not simply financial one) way to make revenue would be to offer a desirable product, and price it accordingly.

The market would seem to suggest (as evidenced by the decline of once-decent rags like PC Gamer) that there is not a lot of demand for coverage of games if a cost is associated with it. Perhaps this is because anyone can blog about games and function as a journalist now, perhaps it is because demo discs are no longer relevant when downloads are available, perhaps it's because gamers are fickle feckless manchildren, perhaps it's a reptillian plot to take over America--regardless of the reason, it seems that trying to make a living off of games journalism is a Bad Idea.

I further question the decision to cheapen your site design and theming by allowing other elements into it that aren't under your control. If you are exercising any sort of integrity of product, it would seem obvious that letting somebody plaster garish random content on is a poor idea.

Don't get me wrong; artists since time out of mind have done payed work for patrons that would later become classic--but even a benevolent duke or aristocrat would be worked in an unobtrusive way into the greater piece (any art historians here are free to correct me) in such a fashion as to preserve the integrity of the work.

(the perhaps best writeup I've seen of games journalism was over at Triforce: http://www.thetriforce.com/?p=813 )

There's a tradeoff here though. On one hand you have friction, on the other hand you have revenue assurance, and often these are direct tradeoffs. Some types of content benefits from high revenue assurance and comparatively high friction, some content is really only useful if it's widely accessible with low friction though. And often the boost in total readership volume that comes from low friction can result in higher and faster growing revenues (web comics fall into this category, for example). However, in general I think content creators have become a bit lazy about considering the value they are offering to their readership.

Just because you put in a lot of effort into making something doesn't mean that what you make is worth anything. And just because it's possible to make money doing something doesn't mean that what you're doing is worthwhile either.

This might not be a popular sentiment, but if people are installing ad blockers, doesn't that mean they would rarely buy anything or be influenced by an ad? For me, I find some ads useful, such as Google Adsense so they're not a real nuisance for me. But if someone found them only intrusive, and not useful, if they didn't view the ad, that means MORE higher quality eyeballs.

So in a strange way, Destructoid is getting its FAIR share of ad revenue, since it's ONLY being shown to the people who find ads useful, and would buy something from an ad.

I understand it's not "fair" to be paid less for writing high quality content, but ad revenue is not welfare, and it's not a mandatory tip jar. Ad revenue is an exchange of value between advertisers and publishers, and if there's no value, then you shouldn't complain about not getting enough ad revenue.

Most ads are paid CPC, not CPM. So the advertiser doesn't pay until someone actually clicks the ad. And while it may be true that people who block ads would be less likely to click them, I doubt it's the case that they wouldn't click them at all.

I only selectively block ads and have never clicked on an ad, except perhaps by accident. I can't be the only one.

Right, but from the point of view of the advertiser, the user would be "Buying something" - access to the contents of the article, which is in principle being paid for by the advertising. This is the model that is failing - and why so much effort seems to be put into (mainly on videos) preventing you accessing the content without viewing the ads.

As for directly paying, this doesn't seem to be an option - see, the whole twitter thing, and the fact that having a paywall effectively prevents developing new readers (unless you are large/well known enough to avoid this problem)

Having a paywall doesn't prevent developing new readers: even if you charge for access, you always have the option of providing a sampling of your current or older content for free. For example, the NY Times has a paywall but lets people read a certain amount of free content before they have to subscribe.

Destructoid is much more ad-heavy than other similar gaming news sites, and they tend to implement the ads in a way that hits browsers hard performance-wise, so that the site is just painful to navigate. I stopped going to Destructoid a while back for exactly this reason.

It seems that such heavy ad bombardment has been chasing their regular users to block ads. It only makes sense.

P.S. If there were an easy way for me to pay a nickel per article I read (or however much), instead of having ads all over the internet, I would jump at that in an instant.

flatter [1] is basically exactly that. You said an amount of money aside you want to spend each month and can then flattr either individual articles/postings or projects. The amount each project receives from you depends now on your monthly account / number of flatters.


I was visiting this article from an ipad, a device that can't have an ad blocker by design. I land on the page and start reading only to see the page disappearing and slowly being replaced by a slow and clumsy "mobile friendly" version of the site. Even so i persist in trying to read the article, except it got cut off after the opening paragraphs by a "read more" link, even though i had seen three ads so far. The read more link just refreshes the page, but doesn't reveal the rest of the article. To get to the content, i had to tap on three vertical bars hidden in the corner, and then choose the link to the desktop version. I assume that most people would have given up long before that.

So, here's my advice to destructoid: if you want ad impressions, try delivering your content on ipad in a way that's fast and readable, because on an ipad people don't block ads.

They can't block ads on the ipad, you mean. It's one of the reasons I don't like browsing on the ipad.

I thought of something, might the growth of mobile ad revenue be offset by the lack of ad blockers on the platforms?

> This means that we're working twice as hard as other sites to sustain our company

No it doesn't, they have to deal with ad block too.

> Read more at http://www.destructoid.com/half-of-destructoid-s-readers-blo...

Maybe if you want your community to like you, don't use evil.js

> At first, it was about 10%, then 20-something. When I dared to blink it just increased faster. Over a few days it never got better, averaging at an ominous 42-46% block rate.

Why did it go up so fast? Maybe you used bad judgment and put up an ad that annoyed people?

You need to respect your users and treat them better before you get to complain.

I run ad block but i never tried to block the ads on Daring Fireball for example. Don't be one of the shady sites with crappy ads and evil.js

The reason I block ads has more to do with the latency of the ad networks than with the annoyance the ads cause me, which is minimal. I just got sick of some ad network hanging the page. I don't have that problem any more since I started blocking the ad networks in /etc/hosts.

I like Penny Arcade a lot: http://www.penny-arcade.com/

They weren't doing annoying ads even before they did their crowdsource campaign to eliminate them for a year. I don't understand what overhead Destructoid has that requires them to have annoying ads.

I observe that their ads are all flash. I don't block ads, but I do block flash. I suspect there are a lot of others like me in this.

From the article writer, replying to someone with a perfectly good point:

> May I ask why you use an ad-blocker on Destructoid?

This (not understanding what an adblocker is or how it works), and the apparent surprise at finding that 50% of (presumably technically literate) readers of their site block ads, seem to come across as incredibly naive. I agree that it can be a problem for these sites, but things like this make it sound like they inhabit another world from their apparent target readers.

<Ironically, I removed some linkspam that appeared when I copied that sentence>

Seems that monetizing content on the Internet is going to be an ongoing problem that doesn't have a really good solution.

I did click on the link, and whatever ads were on it were blocked by my adblocker. I think the writer may not understand that neither I nor anybody else specifically decided to block ads on Destructoid, a site that I had never heard of before today. We block all ads everywhere by default.

Most websurfers will regularly click to articles on sites they've never been to before, many of which are loaded with huge, bandwidth-sucking ads, often with loads of flash, javascript, pop-ups, pop-overs, etc, and sometimes even auto-downloading malware. I want to block all ads everywhere by default because I don't have the time to pay attention to the ad type and policy of every site that I'm only going to visit once, and I'd rather have the problem solved once and for all.

Paid subscriptions may be nice in a way, but they also seem to tear at the fabric of the internet. If all sites used them for most of their content, then most people would only read stuff posted at the 3-4 sites that they visited regularly and actually paid for, instead of surfing all over the place. How do you get new readers in that model?

It might help if there was some way to do micropayments per read - possibly with Bitcoin or something like that. Maybe some sort of big subscription network - like readers pay a subscription fee, and writers in the network get paid a small amount when a subscriber reads their article. I'm not sure what the long-term solution is, but I hope that it's one without ads.

Presumably they could take advantage of Adblock's Acceptable Ads policy[0].

[0]: http://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads

I don't read Destructoid, but this sounded interesting. Upon entering the site, the whole browser window was overtaken by some ad selling me malware scanning. I can totally relate to the people blocking sites which don't police their advertisers.

Mine was taken over by a movie trailer that bogged down FireFox and couldn't be closed.

He mentions in the article about how since he can't control his ad network to the extent that other major companies like Reddit does (they host their own I believe), he doesn't fall under the requirements of the AdBlock whitelist.

it's sad to see him take so much trouble with his ads when some other sites may be the reason.

you are just a side victim. no matter how polite your ads are, if someone else has lousy video/peel/survey ads, they will force users to block ads. and the ads will be blocked when those users visit your page.

most people have no idea they can whitelist sites. when they don't see an ad, they don't even know they are missing something.

heck, my way of blocking ads (etc/hosts file from someonewhocares.org) does even allow me to whiteliste stes. even if i wanted.

I opened up the article without ad blocking to see how polite the ads really were. I saw two of them, both in the sidebar (which is a good place for them). The first one was just a static image; I can live with that. The second had a big red blinking button on it, which naturally draws my eye away from the body text and drives me nuts.

These guys aren't as bad as some, but it looks like they're not just side victims.

I have so many plugins in my Firefox for blocking stuff, that I'm not sure how to whitelist anymore. The other day I wanted to whitelist sleepyti.me to see how he had placed the banner, and realized I couldn't.

I just want to say that while I don't personally block ads, I have used Flashblock, and I might consider blocking ads. The reason for this is not that they are "annoying" or get in the way of reading. For me, it's because I know that advertisements wear on you over time. They are whispers of culture and what you need to do to be happy and gain status. Because of how I feel about ads, I would consider paying for content. However, I think the real pain point here is that we have a hard time knowing whether the content we get is worth paying for, or whether we would have an easier time getting comparable content elsewhere for less. And, of course, how big is the market for people that say "I don't want to see ads because I want to save money on stuff I don't need... but I do want to spend money on certain content"?

So the author is trying very hard to please his audience, but he's also trying very hard to appeal to them and make money. Well, no kidding, we do need to make money to do what we're doing. But you have to make it clear that you are focused on making things better for your audience. You're demonstrably providing clear value of some sort to them. In this case, somehow reviewing games in a way that you enable your audience to make better decisions about where to spend their hard-earned dollars. (I can't speak to the magic that makes one game review site better than another.)

So ask your readers - have they used your content to make decisions? Have they saved money by not plopping down $59.99 on a game that they, individually, would not like? Do they agree with your reviews regularly? And is that because they try the same games that you review, and come to the same conclusions, or because they base all their conclusions on the reviews? If they are saving time and money and getting to do that which they value most (or a lot, at least, more than other things, in this case, playing particularly good video games), then you have clearly enriched their lives. They should let you know, and try to enrich your life, too. But I don't think that viewing ads enriches their lives or yours, or rather, it's a pretty indirect, watered down way to enrich your life.

The biggest problem with online ads is it's yet another sphere of influence which advertising is taking over and colonising with its discursive values (he said, idealistically). If I can click a magic button and have ONE place in my life with no ads, then why not make that the internet?

FWIW, I'm a semi-pro music journalist (try making money doing that these days), and I think online publishing is crying out for a non-intrusive way of monetizing that doesn't involve advertising.

Like most sites with ads, the moment you land on them, they sell you to one or more of their advertising partners. They don't ask your permission, or give you an option. The only way to deal with this is to use an ad blocker.

So the guy wants to make money selling ads? I want to make money watching the TV. I'm not going to write a blog post complaining that I can't make money by watching TV. I'm going to find something that people are happy to pay me for, and do that instead.

The problem is that bad sites with horrible popups, popunders, page takeovers, random words highlighted to look like links but are really ads and all sorts of other crap drive people to adblockers.

So people just install it and forget it so that sites that aren't horrible and don't totally ruin the consumer experience with ads suffer.

And if a site is "nice" and doesn't put that crap on their site today, who is to say they won't tomorrow? So users never bother to turn off their ad blockers.

I read all these complaints and they boils down to "I want to read this content but those ads really slow me down/annoy me." "The content publisher really picked some bad advertisers!" "They should try something that provides me with value."

The value the content publisher provides you is content. If you block ads on an ad driven site - what value do you provide the content publisher? But running a site, maintaining it, getting new content, building new features that all costs money. When you block ads you're simply not paying for what you're using.

If the ads on a site outweigh your tolerance - Don't go to the site. But if the content is there and you want to read it - well the cost of entry for most "free" sites is a few ad impressions. Ubiquitous ads was the most transformative thing to happen to the web. The bills need to get paid and ads do that without requiring everyone to put in their credit card.

Do unclicked ads really still pay?

I don't really feel guilt for blocking ads because if I ever clicked on one it would be by accident.

Yes, there are still ads that pay per 'impression' aka page view. However they usually drop a cookie and pay on impressions with that cookie which prevents paying out on page views to scripts.

That would also prevent paying out with readers who set their browsers to block third-party cookies, which is probably much more common than installing an ad blocker.

There's only one way to solve this: leave the loss to the advertiser.

your agreement with the advertiser is: A) you have X page views, B) you will stamp those page views with references to the ad.

you did 100% of your part. You delivered the page to the user, and you stamped those pages with the ad reference. Done!

if the user browser/system choose not to follow that reference, that shouldn't impact your revenue. at all. what the user does with the page you delivered is out of your control. it's out of the contract reach.

you delivered what you promised, you should get paid.

but of course, this will only make the earlier adopters of such position go broke while advertisers flock to other suckers. this will only work if the whole industry shifts fast.

this will make good content survive, and will make ads get better (as it will finally be it's own interest to do so) and lead to less user felling compelled to install ad blockers.

That's actually how ads on TV work. If a broadcaster shows an ad on TV, they can't guarantee to the advertiser that the intended viewer actually saw the ad: they may have muted it to make a phone call, fast-forwarded over it on their DVR, gotten up to grab a snack or go to the bathroom, or even changed the channel.

but on the TV you can't measure snack runs. on the web you pretty much can.

and even if you can't, you can always pay a 3rd party company that says they can and then you can bail out the payment to the publisher because that 3rd party metrics said so.

In the long-term, this would only destroy the advertising business model. As advertisers realize their advertising dollars have a poor ROI (due to less eyeballs), CPM rates will decrease.

Wouldn't it just cancel out? If you have twice the impressions but the same number of clicks, prices for an impression would simply halve?

I believe this is technically known as a market for lemons, and we all know how those turn out.

Disabled ad block, visited the site.

Interstitial before content.

Lots of banners, some of those misplaced around the layout.

Huge bottom ad over content without a close button. Had to roll over it; it shows a popup over content. Then you can close the popup, and another click to close the bottom ad.

It loads scripts from 23 third-party websites.

Yeaaaaaah... I suppose I understand why people are blocking ads in this particular website. Most gaming news websites I go to have around 3 or 4 third-party scripts, and most respectable websites 1 or 2 (mostly for analytics). But 23? Really?

There's an obvious disconnect from what the writer of that piece thinks most people is seeing, to my actual experience. In all honesty if it wasn't for adblock I wouldn't even had read that article; the experience would have been unbearable.

I run an Android app which is ad supported, and couple of webpages which are ad supported as well. I STILL block ads on my machines. And I expect a lot of my users will be doing the same. Get over it. Earn money from those who don't (like you said those 96% IE users), and sell content if you think your content will be worth paying for. Business models change with time. At one point of time web ads had become the main source of web income. They went overboard, and users started getting frustrated. Right now mobile ads are on their peak. They'll subside too with time (adblockers are already there). You will have to keep rethinking ways to earn money, and reinventing yourself. That's life.

You know, if ads like the ones with smiley faces adware, or any colorful animation, wouldn't exist, I may actually surf the web without adblocker. Alas, the admakers themselves are forcing me to use one.

On a website that is pretty much unusable on an iPad, I can understand why people would block ads. No one owes someone else ad views; if you aren't making enough money, charge.

I don't block ads as a way to rid sites of revenue. I block because of cookie abuse and internet tracking. Secondary is just play annoying ad abuse. I cringe when I see users surfing unfiltered with IE and ads are everywhere. The internet isn't here for you to make an easy buck off us, it's to share and spread information, plain and simple. Don't try to make me feel bad for your poor business model.

I don't use adblock, but Destructoid automatically redirects me to the mobile version of their site because apparently webkit nightly isn't a good enough browser for them.

Ironically, I like this, since it's more lightweight and easier to read than the normal version of their site. Further, there are no ads on the mobile site.

What percentage of their readership do they do that to?

Display a banner and ask them to change their Adblock settings. I always give that a try when I encounter this as a user. However, if the ads are obnoxious... well.

Simple. Have a 3 buck for a month button to make the ads go away.

Don't complain that not everybody would click it, that is way more than you make normally.

Just block the site completely to everyone using ad-blockers, just do it; let them cry without regret for they are killing your way of sustain. If they want to enjoy the site, they have to take the full package. And perhaps ad-free paid version for anyone who really want those gone.

But don't use Flash ads; those can have sound and can slow down the PC and don't work on many devices, making it a very high price to pay for visiting your site.

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