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  • Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

    This is still a ongoing "discussion" amongst webmasters, content creators, advertisers, and readers/communities. However, I find Ars' article quite disturbing if they are going to get up on a high horse and declare themselves right and everyone else wrong (much like like the RIAA has taken it).

    Here's the string of articles I read including the original link that caught my attention over at SPCR.

    [SPCR] Original Link That Caught My Attention

    Original Ars' Article.
    You gotta read the comments as the upper-end staff of Ars basically goes and flips off readers left and right.

    [Ars Technica] Why Ad Blocking is Devastating to the Sites You Love
    ^^ Followup apology/response.

    The short SPCR news post linked to a very interesting counter-response article posted over at TechDirt. I highly suggest you read it after reading Ars' article.

    [TechDirt] Don't Blame Your Community: Ad Blocking Is Not Killing Any Sites

    Where do you guys stand on this? How would you feel if Apophis decides to block content on TG's site because some of us are blocking ads? (Not that he would.)
    |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
    TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
    Former 9th & 13th

    Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
    Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





    SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

    TG Primer and Rules

  • #2
    Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

    I read everything you posted, it's a very interesting topic. Personally, I use ad-blocking for all websites and have no white-listed sites, it slows down my Browsing since i usually don't stay on websites for more then a few minutes unless it's on facebook or something, i don't have time for the page to load all the ads. I believe by the way the one guy in the comments of the first article said, that it does hurt the website, or the companies advertising on the website. I still will have my ad-blockers up since i do not actually care about those companies. They'll do fine without my one glimpse of an annoying ad. I do not know how i would feel if Apophis did this, since I don't' see the ads anyway. hahahha Great post Acreo.
    |TG-Irr| di1lweed1212

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    • #3
      Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

      I'm an SM on TG. I ad block all I want, and I do.


      TG-18th 18th SF Operational Detachment Delta

      If you're playing the game, be in the correct TeamSpeak Channel.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

        I appreciated the article and it seems logical to me. I have whitelisted (allowed ads) both TG and ArsTechnica as I see the ad revenue as supporting something I care about. I made this change when it was mentioned on a thread a few months back in these forums, it wasn't that I wanted to block ads on TG, I just wasn't thinking about the implications for TG if everyone blocked ads... I guarentee we either wouldn't run as many servers (perhaps not any for some of the more marginally populated games) because I don't see TG being able to increase the SM fees much beyond their current price. If looking at a few ads on website I really care about their future is what it takes to keep the community thriving I have NO issues with:
        1. The website informing its users about the impact of adblockers
        2. The website asking if people wouldn't mind not using an adblocker if they want to continue to see content

        If you really have a problem with this you do have options... support the site through direct financial methods (subscriptions), allow ads to suppor the site, continue leeching or stop using the site. Frankly I'm not sure what Ars or TG would owe the "leech" around content, but my opinion is not anything.


        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

          Being an upcoming Web Designer/Developer, I see a few sides to this argument. However, it seems that it will only cause hurt for the Website, not its users.

          It's my Website, and I'll do what I want to!
          They paid for the development of the website. They paid for the domain. They paid for the hosting. They're a news journal, they're a tech site, but most importantly they're a business. They spent money to make money. It's their choice, there's nothing stopping them from replacing ads with gigantic monkeys if they so desired it. There's no web regulations for this situation, and they have the programmer to do it for them. In the end, they can do whatever they so please.

          User Experience
          If a user visits the website, what happens? They receive no content; the website navigation elements are there, but no content. Content is king on the internet; no content, no conversion from 'browsing' to 'using'. New visitors are completely alienated and simply fall back to their Google search and move on. Current users might be confused and not have the know-how to troubleshoot why the website is not working. They wonder why the website is down, ask around, and eventually get frustrated or bored and quit visiting the website. Even current users that might have figured out how to reach the content again may be frustrated, like the other users who posted those nasty comments did.
          They're now not only losing revenue because of advertisements being hidden and not registering the 'hit', but now they are losing potential users and previous users because they cannot reach the content at all. They will likely never visit the website again. It is arguable that they are benefiting from this in that they are regaining advertising revenue now that some of their users figured out how to unblock the ads, but they undoubtedly lose in the long run because more and more users will be unable to reach their content.

          Visits, even if "Leeching," are a good thing!
          Even if your page visitor is "leeching," you benefit from the page visit. That user may be "leeching," but he has friends and associates he may forward this article to, or refer them to the website. If that user doesn't have ad-block enabled, you are benefiting. Many websites rely on this sort of referral to experience widespread use: myspace.com, facebook.com, even dear old tacticalgamer.com. If even one "real" user is referred to your site after 20 "leech" uses, you are benefiting.

          Everyone loves High Horses!
          Ars Technica outright told their users "stop visiting the site altogether" if they used ad-block. They claim that it "devastates" websites. Claim that their users are flat-out "wrong." This is the absolute most appalling treatment of their user/reader-base, and I as a person who believes strongly in fair treatment might likely never use Ars Technica after this debacle.
          If the Ars Technica staff had been just a tad more tactful in their approach to asking for users to white-list their website in their ad-blockers, and provided the necessary U.I. cues to lead users to an area where they could explain what the user needs to do to view the content, where they explained what their site offers and why they should do this, they would have had a much more receptive community response and kept their user-base who would have happily unblocked the advertisements for their favorite website.
          Instead, they pissed off a good bit of their user-base and showed no care to their users that could not figure out the problem.



          I am not against their blocking of content along with the advertisements. It does help their business, and its their website, I have no say in their practices at all.
          I am against, strongly and wholeheartedly, their uncaring approach to their user-base and their unwillingness to help direct users afflicted to ways to "fix" things.
          Last edited by Celestial1; 04-06-2010, 10:00 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

            I used to take the time to allow minor text ads, but most sites turned even those into bandwidth hogging connect to remote server before offering the basic content distractions. Just like I don't feel a single pang of regret for fast forwarding through commercials or not reading a sign on the interstate, I block the ads so that while I'm still ignoring them, they don't slow down the stuff I am actually after. Much like DRM, if it wasn't such a hassle I wouldn't be opposed to it.

            I no longer bother white listing anything, I'm ignoring it anyway. As some ads pay better for a click through percentage instead of total views, I'm actually helping certain sites out by increasing their click to view ratio :)

            I'm reading the comments with adblock active, take that ars techinca!
            |TG-6th|Snooggums

            Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

              When the web-advertising business stops using tracking cookies, and annoying flash based ads, then maybe I'll feel inclined to look at their adverts.
              Do or do not, there is no try....
              -- Yoda, Dagobah

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

                I read all of the comments in the original thread. Calling people who stop annoying flash advertisements leeches and accusing them of stealing content due to not allowing ads to load while telling people off who said that how they handled it was driving them away is extremely offensive to the readers. Had they done what one of the posters suggested and put a notice up on the blocked material that it was hidden due to ad blocking software and requesting their site be white listed with a short explanation that they do their best to keep ads relevant and non-obtrusive it would have gone over a lot better. Yes, the site admin guy who has flash ads blocked calling other people leeches for doing the same thing with all ads.

                Personally I think they are tools and I might adblocking ars technica altogether so I don't accidentally give them additional page hits since they think I am a leech for doing so, if I remember to do so when I get home.
                |TG-6th|Snooggums

                Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

                  Wow, that's some serious entitlement tantrum going on there.

                  I mean the Ars admins and editors, incidentally, not the ad-blocking readers.

                  So you offer a subscription option, with an extended featureset? So not enough people subscribe for the health of your bottom line?

                  Your flawed business model is not my problem.

                  People don't like feeling ripped off. Anyone remember the brilliant move by Wolfram Alpha on the iPhone? They deliberately crippled the loading speed of their mobile site, while introducing the "lightning-fast" Wolfram Alpha app, at $50 a pop. Wildly successful plan, needless to say. Ars is doing the same thing, only being that they're messing around with their primary interface, they're digging their own grave that much faster (or were, until they killed the project and tried to put a brave face on it).

                  Content isn't free. But assuming that direct financial contribution or ad exposures are the only benefits of an intelligent, engaged community of readers and commenters is fiscally idiotic.

                  But ultimately, the question is academic. This is a fight Ars has already lost. The only question is whether they decide to revisit this moment of business brilliance -- and drive themselves out of existence as a result -- or whether they get a clue (and possibly some netiquette counselling) and never, ever, mention this episode again.




                  Who needs a life when you can have a heavy bolter?
                  --BlackMirror
                  <23:03:38> "|TG|Smachin<BF Admin>" was kicked from the server by "|TG-70th| Zhohar" (UNDERAGE ban.)
                  Anything over $600, and it would be pointless to try and reason with Grandma
                  --Blackraven93

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

                    I was meaning to post my own response to this but being swamped isn't that cool.

                    I personally don't like how Ars handled their readers/visitors when they decided to block content for those with adblocking software. It's definitely detrimental to them in many ways (practically everyone above has iterated them). As a webmaster myself, I do agree with Celestial that it's their site and their content and there is no standard or rules set that most webmasters have to follow. But, there is a unspoken set of guidelines that every webmaster should learn at some point in their time online. One of which is: shaft the customer, shaft yourself.

                    I think Ars really needs to get off the "[tons of] ads on my website = financial stability/income" bandwagon. There are other sources of revenue/funding including: donations, pay for targeted (and interesting) content, selling merchandise/related products, etc. I'm sure other webmasters out there are solely reliant on ads and in today's age, I do hope they have a better business model than solely relying on advertisement and spam.
                    |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
                    TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
                    Former 9th & 13th

                    Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
                    Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





                    SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

                    TG Primer and Rules

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

                      Whoops... This has turned into quite the rant. I guess I don't like being called a leech because someone else's business model has failed.

                      For the tl;dr members of the audience, here is the condensed version.

                      "What were they thinking??"
                      ***
                      Acreo, to expand a bit on what you're saying, the guidelines you're referring to exist for a simple reason: Sites that neglect to follow them significantly decrease their continued viability. Ars seems to be riding the wave of "we've been around for 12 years and have heard forecasts of doom and gloom forever." I'm sure that's true, and in startup years (like dog years, only shorter), 12 years is the equivalent of a millenium. Same in internet years.

                      Think back to 1998: If you were already running a site back then, how much has stayed the same about it since? Ars may have forgotten how much it's adapted to the times. Or it could simply have been one etiquette-deficient editor (or simply someone having a bad day), and now the geeks behind Ars have dug in their heels, circled the wagons, and are going to stick with their position no matter what. I know I've done it before (and most of the times regretted it bitterly afterward, but we're not talking about *my* flaws here).

                      I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Too few ads and you, as a site admin, are well below the annoyance threshold for your readers, but you're also losing revenue potential. Get over that threshold, and you're losing readers, and as your numbers drop, so does the amount you can charge per ad spot. The worst thing you can do then is to increase the number of spots, to make up for the loss: You'll simply accelerate the rate at which you're losing readership. Of course, Ars' main complaint is that they're paying for someone else's sins -- once adblock is on, you never know if the site is excessively annoying or not. But the flip-side of that position was certainly expressed in the comments: People did feel that Ars ads were above the annoyance threshold, and called the editors on the claim that Ars ads were inobtrusive. So if Ars is so intent on continuing to run ads, perhaps it should adjust its selection stringency. Techdirt covered that particular angle, so I don't have to.

                      But the argument that a higher than average portion of the Ars readership is blocking the ads is pulled out of thin air. They *can't* know that. Who are they comparing the adblock rates to? Bank of America? Costco? I'll be amazed to see any major site publish its visitor stats at such granularity level.

                      As for the argument that it's their site and their content, sure. Except they've put it up online and did not take any measures to protect it. That eliminates a whole slew of their rights. They still retain the *copy*right, of course (assuming they've purchased that from the article authors -- not a given in the industry), but not displaying a portion of their site is in no way a violation of their rights. And the whole idea that they can put a terms of use clause and make this act illegal dies as soon as someone remembers that the site is accessible from multiple jurisdictions, with vast variation in enforceability of non-signed agreements. Hell, they don't even make sure you're obligated to read the agreement! I can't recall ever going to their front page, and I've read hundreds of Ars articles over the years. If people can hotlink to an article and bypass the user agreement, the agreement is likely not enforceable. At the very least, it will cost Ars a very large amount of money in court to prove otherwise, and even then the result will be limited by jurisdiction.




                      Who needs a life when you can have a heavy bolter?
                      --BlackMirror
                      <23:03:38> "|TG|Smachin<BF Admin>" was kicked from the server by "|TG-70th| Zhohar" (UNDERAGE ban.)
                      Anything over $600, and it would be pointless to try and reason with Grandma
                      --Blackraven93

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Blocking Ads Hurts Websites Says Ars Technica

                        Ars Technica does offer a subscription method that reduces the ads, like TG. The point made by the AT staff was that people who read articles with the ads blocked and no subscription were not customers because they were not generating revenue.

                        My opinion is that if they want to make sure they get the ad revenue and want to encourage people to display the ads they should let people know why they are blocking the article in a way that explains that their site has less obnoxious ads than the rest of the internet and are relevant to the site. Calling people leeches for doing what they normally do on the internet is just rude.

                        Although I am an SM on TG I just whitelisted TG in AdBlock, and now noScript is coughing up 16 3rd party servers trying to run scripts for the advertisements that I still receive. I haven't had any virus or malware issues since using noScript, so I think I'm gonna let those stay blocked. I do see at least the header ad now, but if the noScirpt makes that not count I'm not going to feel bad in any way.
                        Last edited by snooggums; 04-09-2010, 10:15 AM.
                        |TG-6th|Snooggums

                        Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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