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 Post subject: Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:05 am 
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Posts: 11816
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Ad blocking isn't wrong, Ken Fisher writes, but it can deal a severe financial blow to Web sites, especially tech sites where a large percentage of readers have blockers installed. This applies to SPCR as well as Ars Technica, which has been experimenting with technology to block content for readers with ad blockers, a new twist in this online struggle. Read about the Ars experiment.

[EDIT]And a counterpoint, just a day later, from from Techdirt's Mike Masnick who argues, Don't Blame Your Community: Ad Blocking Is Not Killing Any Sites.

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Last edited by MikeC on Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:29 am 
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Hi Mike, very informative read.
I'm curious about one thing though : you get paid to display ads, but do you get paid more if the user clicks on the ad ? And what if the user buys something from the advertiser ?

Just to give my point of view : just like in the article, I think that sites that overwhelm you with ads are not worth looking at. The ads here at SPCR are barely annoying, related to things that potentially interest me and don't jump in your face in a new pop-up window because I'm the 1.000.000 million visitor.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:48 am 
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Location: UK
I find it almost impossible to read an article with adverts flashing away down the sides. I have no choice but to block. I couldn't go back now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:59 am 
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frenchie wrote:
Hi Mike, very informative read.
I'm curious about one thing though : you get paid to display ads, but do you get paid more if the user clicks on the ad ? And what if the user buys something from the advertiser ?

Yes, those actions do produce increased revenue, which helps, but in general the % is very small. 1~2% of total purchased amount is typical.

Quote:
Just to give my point of view : just like in the article, I think that sites that overwhelm you with ads are not worth looking at. The ads here at SPCR are barely annoying, related to things that potentially interest me and don't jump in your face in a new pop-up window because I'm the 1.000.000 million visitor.

We have never run popup ads, and we try to run ads at least somewhat relevant to our readers as much as possible, but we don't have direct control over all the ads. Google, for example, will post the ads their clients pay for in the space we allot to them.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:10 am 
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One reason I use addblocker is that some add's completely mess up layout. I hate blinking colors and pop-ups. If a site owner asks not to use add blocker and promises not to use pop-ups I can disable for that site the add's and support site best as I can. SPCR is one of those sites I make this "sacrifice" and generally allow commercial. I always can filter one specific that annoys me greatly and leave rest untouch.

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 Post subject: pay subscription model
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:19 am 
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Location: DC
Call me cynical, but I think the ad-based internet content model is dead.

What I'm truly curious to know is what the subscriber rate would be if sites like this moved to a pay model, where viewers had to pay a monthly / yearly fee to access the content? Sure, your reader numbers will drop, but can you get enough people?

I can honestly say I would pay. I hate ads, I block them all. But I also like good content and appreciate it's value. It's a total catch-22.

I will buy a monthly magazine subscription to something I like - so too would I buy a site subscription. I see no problem with it and absolutely no difference. Even when the magazines have ads, there is a difference. They aren't overly intrusive, and I find myself looking at them more than I would online.

In fact, for tech-related sites, having a paying model might allow even better content. I get so frustrated trying to find "good" content because every joe out there has a tech-blog, and most tech sites run the exact same articles about the exact same things.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:24 am 
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For a little more balanced coverage of that article you might want to read http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?th ... id=1573976

Assuming the URL I provided is correct it will be filtered to comments rated 5 only.

none of those comments are mine (my slashdot ID is the same as my SPCR ID) but many are spot on as to the concerns I have about ads.

I'll not go into details about how or why but I see some ads on SPCR. I'm not allowing all, and I'm not blocking all.

I also try to buy items after using the SPCR pricegrabber but the configuration of my PC may be blocking the tracking necessary for giving SPCR credit for the referral on those purchases. I haven't taken the time to analyze that fully to see if the referral is credited.

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Last edited by dhanson865 on Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Flash = Horrible
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:31 am 
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Location: We're all living in Amerika
I only block one type: Flash ads, which degrade system performance and potentially cause instabilities that can only be fixed by a browser-wide restart. This is not a function of the ads but of Flash itself. I block Flash everywhere -- even sites specifically for Flash content because it is so bad that I want to choose WHEN Flash loads. I only wish that I could unload it as easily (without doing something silly like reloading the page to re-block the Flash). YouTube only got whitelisted because of the Autoplay Playlist feature, and because sometimes the videos would not load if the player did not immediately start.

Everything else I can generally ignore, although obnoxious ones will obviously make me unhappy with the site and does not improve its chances of repeat visits.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:37 am 
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Location: Northern California.
As a satellite internet user adverts only serve to get my limited bandwidth throttled to below dialup way faster than when running a blocker. and pages load way faster with no ads to load. This is also one of the main things I like about SPCR, its low bandwidth because it has picture size rules, no avatars, or other fancy pipe hogging forum bling.

Another forum I visit frequently had a huge number of users protest an offensive and NSFW ad that played loud vulgarities at random intervals recently. The moderator's response to countless requests for dropping the sponsor with the offensive ads said "get an adblocker"

The deliberate choice of many advertisers to use the most annoying flash based ads with auto sound and video and pop ups only served to shoot themselves in the foot. Marketing for short term gains over substance and long term customer loyalty and quality of products was their choice not ours.

How about a simple list of SPCR sponsors with revenue generating clickable portals, to accompany the SPCR shopping search box, so we can support them and SPCR directly with out needing to look at ads?


Last edited by xan_user on Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:50 am 
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Posts: 1235
Location: Finland
I have a hard time with anything animated. I just can't focus on the actual content if there are any animations in my view. This means, I basically just can't read the article at all in such a case. If I try to do it, I have to put a lot of extra mental effort to it and it exhausts me.

Still image ads don't bother me.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:04 am 
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Posts: 61
Location: Massachusetts, USA
In line ads are the reason I run AdBlock. I'm one of those people who highlights as they read. In-line ads royally mess me up (which I guess is the goal).

I have added SPCR to my white list, and I will gladly do the same for other sites I frequently visit, provided that the advertisements are not obnoxious.


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 Post subject: Re: pay subscription model
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:14 am
Posts: 5
Location: Belgium
Sno Crash wrote:
Call me cynical, but I think the ad-based internet content model is dead.

What I'm truly curious to know is what the subscriber rate would be if sites like this moved to a pay model, where viewers had to pay a monthly / yearly fee to access the content? Sure, your reader numbers will drop, but can you get enough people?

I can honestly say I would pay. I hate ads, I block them all. But I also like good content and appreciate it's value. It's a total catch-22.

but how would you start a NEW website? nobody knows it so, nobody pays
passive ads with like ont SPCR with tech-subjects (like Corsair on this moment) don't bother me


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:57 am 
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Posts: 2
Location: Sweden
I have had SPCR unblocked in Adblock Plus for a long time now, as i think you are doing important testing no one else is doing.

I think the kontera ads that you are using are really annoying, they where the reason I installed Adblock in the first place (when Anandtech started using them).
But I guess I have gotten better at mentally ignoring the false links with time.

Something I will never unblock is flash however. It is resource sucking and regularly have security flaws. And I generally dislike it, as I think it makes the web less open.
To bad it is the best paying stuff according to the Ars staff. :(


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:07 am 
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Cybjit wrote:
I have had SPCR unblocked in Adblock Plus for a long time now, as i think you are doing important testing no one else is doing.


WELCOME TO SPCR!
Nice first post!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:14 am 
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Location: Sweden
xan_user wrote:
WELCOME TO SPCR!
Nice first post!

Thank you :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:28 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:20 am
Posts: 2173
Location: TN, USA
Keep in mind I browse SPCR from more than one PC, more than one browser, more than one ISP, more than one firewall, etc. Nothing I say here is representative of my overall SPCR experience.

On a test PC I opened IE 7 and loaded the SPCR front page. Flash wasn't loaded so SPCR offered the flash installer. I let flash install into IE and the page was rendered to include flash ads. What I see in ads in this situation is:

Corsair animated add near top center (maybe more top left) that displayed properly but is distracting enough that I'd manually block if I had the choice. (This is the 450/550 watt ad) If it were a static ad or if the animated content only changed once per 30 seconds I'd let it load on any PC but with no more than 1 or 2 seconds per frame of the animation It's way outside of reasonable to me.

to the right of that add above the popular content column I have a block where an ad should be but the connection failed. (amazon) I don't know what this ad looks like.

On the left I have a SpectraPLUS ad that displayed properly.

below that I have a Newegg ad that did not display (tqlkg.com)

between the 9th and 10th article in the middle column I have an add for 3 power supplies that rendered properly which I think is a SPCR pricegrabber ad.

3 more articles down in that section and there is an ad that failed to display which is again an amazon ad similar to or the same as the one mentioned above.

I'm not seeing double-underlined text ads and I'm not sure what else ad related doesn't show at this point.

Clicking on the Kontera link at the bottom of the page gives me "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage".

A refresh of the page gives me an Antec ad that moves slower than the Corsair ad. Antec's ad even has the decency to pause about 10 seconds before it starts over. I'd rather it not move so much when it does but this is leaps and bounds more user friendly than the corsair ad I saw just before it.

Reloading again gives me another annoying Corsair ad this time for the 650/750 Watt models.

Antec should slow their animated ad down slightly (not the pause inbetween so much as the rate of movement during the animated portion)

Corsair should learn from Antec and slow their ad down if they don't want their ads blocked.

To be clear I don't mind the content in either of the Antec ads. What it says and the colors are pleasing to the eye. But the movement is obnoxious and just as I won't put up with a chattering fan I won't put up with a distracting ad. It can pull my eyes toward it by placement or color or size but not by movement or sound.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:35 am 
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Most of the people I know who block ads didn't just decide to do it out of the blue. Ad blocking is a backlash against the worst examples of internet advertising. Browser ads carry with them a pretty heavy stigma among the tech community. It's unfortunate that sites like SPCR are lumped in with all the sites that allow truly dangerous or repugnant ads, but I haven't heard of an ad blocker that only blocks the "bad" ones and lets the "not so bad" ones through.

I do disable ad blocking on sites I would like to support, but if their ads become annoyingly intrusive I'll block them too. I think the onus is on the content provider to screen their ads and their placement carefully with their audience in mind. Once everyone starts blocking everyone else, we all lose.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:36 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 pm
Posts: 50
Location: CA
Cybjit wrote:
I think the kontera ads that you are using are really annoying, they where the reason I installed Adblock in the first place (when Anandtech started using them).
But I guess I have gotten better at mentally ignoring the false links with time.

Something I will never unblock is flash however. It is resource sucking and regularly have security flaws. And I generally dislike it, as I think it makes the web less open.
To bad it is the best paying stuff according to the Ars staff. :(


I, too, use the Adblock mainly for Flash Ads and Kontera ads. Ads that try to "grab" your attention really bothers me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:44 am 
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Posts: 279
I've only started experimenting with Opera's "block content" feature, since certain sites with obnoxious floating flash ads that block your screen drove me to do so.

But I wonder if all of this could be solved if ad blockers still loaded the ads (thus generating the page view check) but simply did not display them on screen for the user.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:03 pm 
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Posts: 25
I agree that on-line ads are distracting, but I must say that the advertising done on SPCR are not annoying - the banner at the top, some tech related ads and the Google banner - I accept as part of the web-world.

Now, if we could just get SPCR to do some "male enhancement" reviews :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:03 pm 
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Ow! My eyes!
Sorry Mike, it tried to do the no adblock thing just now...by firing up IE8 stock config. :shock:

All those moving ads do is make me want to never buy corsair,hp or shop at newegg and amazon again. If was forced to look at that noise, I would probably not visit SPCR as often. (and probably would never have donated either...)

How can we expect a product to be silent when the ads are so visually loud anyhow?:wink:

Its sad that even the endpcnoise ad is annoying.

It unfortunate for great sites like SPCR, that advertisers made such a horrible mistake by going with flashing neon and carny-row type sales pitches for a quick buck, without realizing/caring there'd be a backlash. Let me know when the ads get less annoying and I will be happy to see and click them all day long.

How about "This blank ad brought to you only on SPCR by sponsorship of corsair."? -now that sort of ad would entice me to purchase their products, rather than want to look for less annoyingly marketed alternatives.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:15 pm 
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xan_user wrote:
Ow! My eyes!
Sorry Mike, it tried to do the no adblock thing just now...by firing up IE8 stock config. :shock:

All those moving ads do is make me want to never buy corsair,hp or shop at newegg and amazon again. If was forced to look at that noise, I would probably not visit SPCR as often. (and probably would never have donated either...)

How can we expect a product to be silent when the ads are so visually loud anyhow?:wink:

Its sad that even the endpcnoise ad is annoying.

Unlike xan, I think it is your responsibility rather than your advertisers to not have your site completed overwhelmed by advertising. Turned off noscript on here and was greeted with mind blowing number of ads. The kontera ones are obnoxious. Turned noscript back on, but allowed only ads/scripts originating from silentpcreview.com (theres a few).

That is enough for me. I can't handle any more than that and I would prefer a full page ad randomly (like the NYTimes does) rather than enduring the flashing on every page. The kontera underlined links is unacceptable. If you remove my ability to turn it off, I will not visit.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:29 pm 
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I'm of the opinion that the model of public broadcasting is a better way to go. What support that comes directly from private entities are calmly and succinctly announced; and they are transparent about it.

I detest commercial television; and commercial radio is not far behind. I do not have cable/FIOS/satellite TV -- we only watch broadcast TV. And, 95% of the time, we watch PBS. Ditto for the radio. And yes, we are long time supporters with our hard earned money. Radio Paradise (online "radio") and some online news organizations are examples of this online.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:40 pm 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Radio Paradise (online "radio")


Love to support that station! :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:43 pm 
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I had similar experiences to that of xan_user and others. I tried turning off AdBlock, and wibbly-wobbly flash movies started playing on the front page. I can tolerate a static image, but for now, I'm going to turn AdBlock back on.

I think SPCR is too classy and mature for that kind of ads. In reality, however, SPCR probably relies on ad to survive. But given how modest the rest of the page layout is (which I like very much!), moving ads stick out like a sore thumb

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:45 pm 
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This has been reposted on a lot of tech sites and has started some really good discussion.

Personally ads don't really bother me (except I use Flashblock on my netbook, because those Flash ads can really slow things down), but I can understand the frustration some people have with them. There are quite a few issues:

1) Potential security vulnerability if malicious scripts are embedded (addons like NoScript should be able to protect you without blocking the advertisement, though).
2) Flash ads can suck up a lot of CPU cycles and be very distracting to some people.
3) Some ad servers seem to be pretty slow/crappy and can cause page timeouts. I've noticed this can be pretty bad on some other forums I visit, although it's never been a big problem on SPCR.
4) Sound ads, popups, stuff like that, which isn't an issue on major tech sites like SPCR, AnandTech, etc. You guys seem to put a lot of effort into finding relatively non-flashy and relevant advertising that will appeal to visitors.

I've also noticed that a lot of the people who block and complain about ads would also be willing to pay a small subscription fee for ad-free browsing. Like I mentioned, I think a lot of them have some legit gripes about ads. It's not like they're blocking them just to spite website owners. I think more sites should look into the ad-free subscription model, because I bet a fair amount of users would be willing to pay for it.

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 Post subject: Yeah, this will get me banned, but frankly Scarlett...
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:03 pm 
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Boo freaking hoo. Go drown in your own greed and stupidity.

I didn't start blocking ads until I was bombarded with 60% of the content area crowded with flashing, moving, blinking video that autostarted with sound.

I'm not responsible for someone else's crappy business model. if you can't make a go of it as is, then shut down. If the public internet holds any lessons in the last 15 years, its that there will always be someone else willing to repeat the same mistake and fill the void, if any exists.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:56 pm 
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Posts: 675
Location: Milwaukee, WI
MikeC: if I donate, I'm guessing I will still see ads at silentpcreview.com. I assume this to be true because there's no login at the main site.

I don't know how much effort it would require, or if it's possible with SPCR's cms, but disabling ads for paying members would create another "reason to buy" for potential members. Your content product is excellent, and is a substantial reason to buy on its own. Supplementing it with an additional reason to buy (ad-free for subscribers) might be something worth investigating.

[EDIT] The "reason to buy" bit comes from TechDirt.com, an econ/tech blog. The other half of the idea is "connect with fans". Mike Masnick has an article re: Ars position today: Don't Blame Your Community: Ad Blocking Is Not Killing Any Sites. The article, and the site in general, are very informative.

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Last edited by Jay_S on Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:08 pm 
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Jay_S wrote:
MikeC: if I donate, I'm guessing I will still see ads at silentpcreview.com. I assume this to be true because there's no login at the main site.

correct. no difference. I don't believe site owners get to opt out of types of ads, the advertisers get to decide what they run, and how.

How about a screen saver that opens SPCR on an unblocked browser and clicks sponsors ads while your away from the desk. (while it folds too)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:22 pm 
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xan_user wrote:
How about a screen saver that opens SPCR on an unblocked browser and clicks sponsors ads while your away from the desk. (while it folds too)

:shock: Maybe your comment was humor/sarchasm ... Reading the slashdot comments in the link dhanson865 posted above was eye-opening. I was unaware how commonly malware gets distributed via third-party ad providers. Seems like auto-clicking everything would be pretty dangerous!

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