Adblockers Made The Local News


5 min read

I've been thinking whether I should write this post for a while now. The past week I got confirmation I should write it. Adblockers made the local news. As in "please don't block ads because we need them" kind of news. As in "adblockers will ruin our newly found business model". I'll keep using an ad-blocker, no matter how much you beg me not to and no, ad-blockers won't ruin your business model. Your ads ruined your business model.

The original reason I started spending more and more time on the internet was to get away from ad breaks on the TV. Now they're taking over the internet too and it's driving me nuts. That's the main reason I installed an ad-blocker. That and a lot of pages look a lot cleaner without ugly ads in them. So, in my opinion, ads diminish the experience of your site.

The past few months I've seen more and more annoying ads before a newer version of ad-block removed them. They span a range of types:

  • Popups
  • Flashy ads (wake up, it's not 1995 any more)
  • Ads that are in the way (full screen ads that you have to click away, who at Simple Programmer thought that was a good idea?)
  • Ads disguised as content (looking at you, 9Gag)
  • Unskipable ads (looking at you, YouTube)
  • Some content won't play in Chrome, Edge or FireFox but only in IE so they can shove an ad before and in the middle of the video (looking at you, South Park Studios)
  • Multiple download buttons on file sharing pages
  • In between search results
  • In comments
  • The spyware/adware some free apps try to install (no, I want to burn files, ImgBurn, I don't want to install some Norton pc checking shit)

Now before anybody starts pointing out that ads are necessary, I completely agree. Ads provide revenue for sites that offer free content. I'm questioning the way the ads are presented and their quality. I don't want the cheapest ads shoved down my throat on a daily basis. If you want to sell me your brand, you do it by pointing out what your service or product can offer me. What value it adds to my life. Make me laugh, make me happy, make me want to know more. You won't do it by shoving an annoying ad in my face. If I see an ad that just annoys me, I'm more likely to turn away from your service or product. In my case, no publicity is better than bad publicity.

To make things worse, Chrome is threatening to block ad-blocker extensions. Which would make me move away from my current favourite browser. It would mean that I'm loosing a part of the freedom I'm accustomed to. It would mean that they will take away my decision to block or allow a part of the internet. Which would be a very good reason to move to another browser. I have been dying to try out Edge for real, I was waiting for extension support for Chrome and FireFox plugins. This could move that timetable up.

And then there's the icing on the cake: malvertising. So not only are they annoying and in my way, they could be used to deliver viruses, malware and other nasty programs. Even big security experts can be duped (I have a lot of respect for you Troy Hunt, but this is a good example). So I can't even trust a site with ads to be virus free because the original site can't control all the content shown on the page.

But I'm a firm believer that if you just point out the problems, you're a whiner. So here are a few tips to improve ads.

First off, like I said before, improve the quality of your ads. There are a lot of funny ads that I like to look at. I once saw an ad about fishers and mutt dog. One fisherman asks the other what breed it is. "A golden retriever," the other answered. The first guy looks at the dog and calls bullshit. So the second guy says "retrieve". The dog gets up and gets a beer from the fridge, a Australian Gold. It's been ages, but I still remember it. It presented the product in a funny way. The quality was good. It stuck. I know not all commercials can be funny or witty, but they can be a lot better than "DOWNLOAD NOW" in really big letters. And I'm still wondering what that beer tastes like, haven't found it yet.

The next issue is to tackle the way they are presented. I know I (and a lot of others) want to hide ads, so pushing them into my face will work counter-productive. Put them at the side, not between actual content. Or at least make it clearly visible that it's an ad. Not with a little marking, but with a totally different background. Make sure I get that it's an ad.

Work on the security. If I can't trust ads to provide me actual ads, I surely won't want them on sites and apps that I visit. Present ads over HTTPS, verify that the poster has a good reputation, do not serve unsafe ads (like ones that require JavaScript).

Most importantly: make a user friendly and qualitative service or product . The last internet services or products I bought, were recommended by friends and colleagues. They told me about the quality and I was not disappointed. I now recommend those to others. But don't worry, I won't advertise them here. :)

P.S. Yes, I'm aware of the irony of complaining about ads while using a free blog service that uses ads.