I Don’t Use Ad Blockers

No adblock 250I don’t use ad blockers, because there are some sites I rely on or enjoy reading, and those sites rely on ads to stay in business (servers are expensive, the staff needs to eat, etc). If they offer a paid option to remove ads, I pay it. If not, I want them to stay in business, so I don’t block their ads. With that said, there are plenty of “good” sites out there which are simply flooded with ads. I simply choose to not follow or frequently visit those. I can get my reading in elsewhere. For example, the news sites where and advertising sidebar (sometimes even multiple sidebars) take up the entire right half of the screen. I mean, how is that even a thing?! I just refuse to read anything on those sites, it’s distracting, and simply crazy.

There’s a lot to hate and a lot to love about advertising, and so many factors that have contributed to a rather rapid shift in the industry. In the early days, contextual advertising used to be the leader. Are you reading a post about camping? Great, here’s an ad for a campground in your area, or maybe you want to buy this tent from Amazon. Those were great times, as the ads kind of contributed something to the article, sort of a “related content” experience. It turns out, that doesn’t pay well anymore, at all, to the point where it may not even worth it. Simply put, advertisers are willing to pay good money for their ads to be seen, not to simply wait around for the chance that someone will write about a Fiat, Chromebook, or whatever product they’re selling. In a way, that’s nice because you could run one unrelated ad and make the same amount as you could with four contextual ads. I’m not saying I directly recommend one over the other, but one unrelated ad could make a site owner a lot more money than beating me senseless with contextual ads ever could.

There are lots of other ways to advertise now too, which is also contributing to a rapid price shift. Some site owners will go to where the money is, and some will go with whatever doesn’t inconvenience the reader. Site owners can make a killing off of interstitials (those “click here to continue to the article” ads), but those make me close the window and look for a similar article elsewhere. Others can still make a killing off of related affiliate links, like Uncrate. Others thrive off of sponsored content, like Quartz, where whole posts can be advertisements, but are easy to identify and therefore easy to ignore, or they actually could be well-written articles. Others have struggled with income from time to time, but do their best to stay afloat on a very minimal ad-to-content ratio, like The Verge.

In short, I don’t use ad blockers, as I value the sites I read which need ads to stay in business. In turn, I don’t bother to read sites which are insanely cluttered with ads. There are plenty of non-obtrusive ways to advertise. Sometimes that means you’ll make less money than if you had provided a Whac-A-Mole-like banner ad experience, but maybe it’s worth it? I don’t use ad blockers, but I don’t have to follow your site either.

This post was inspired by What’s Your Take on Advertising on Blogs? by WordPress.com support forum superstar, timethief.

(Disclaimer: To anyone who read this post, thank you. The words above are not necessarily indicative of the views of Automattic, WordPress.com, WordAds, or any of their affiliates. If you feel like quoting me for any reason, please know that this is simply my personal opinion. k thx bye)

17 responses

  1. Hi James,
    I read your post and I’m here to say that I admire the way you crafted it or I would not have clicked the like button. It may surprise you to hear that I have close friends who are into marketing and in another life I may have known a thing or two about it too but I took a another less traveled road. I too frequent sites that require advertising and they know what they are about. Their ads don’t trigger my click out now button. Thanks for the opportunity to dialog.
    Best wishes always,

    1. You’re welcome! I guess I should have mentioned too that many ads these days are paid per impression, not click, which is a good thing since I don’t click many ads. 🙂

  2. The bills need to be paid somehow – I don’t use ad blockers, in part as I am not ambitious enough to find a good blocker – but on my own site I pay the no ads upgrade and just look at that is a real cheap hosting fee – the ads I do HATE are the new browser window or the pages that load a great big ad at the top of the page – so when the ad loads and I page down a bit to see the text I want to read – then the ad goes way so now the text all scrolls up have a screen and puts the text off the top of the browser window – I don’t visit that site very often

  3. there are some sites I rely on or enjoy reading, and those sites rely on ads to stay in business (servers are expensive, the staff needs to eat, etc).

    whitelists, ftw

    1. Sure, whitelists are a great thing in ad blockers, if you really do have to visit sites that are aggressively filled with ads. I just find it easier to simply not visit them. 😉

      1. I just mean that I prefer to fly with the blast shields up and let them down when I know it’s safe. The wild wild web can be a dangerous place.

        1. Very true, the ads on some sites are just like walking into an ambush.

  4. Not a fan of ads, but live and let live, I say. I wouldn’t know how to block an advert, but having raised boisterous boys, I know how to zone them (the ads) out. I think that it’s the interesting article or site that counts.

  5. I don’t use an adblocker– I use a hosts file, which all operating systems- Windows, Mac, Linux, and so on have. It simply redirects any URL on the blacklist back to my home IP (“There’s no place like”, goes the geek joke) and so my browsers give me the “cannot connect” message.

    I use the file shared by someonewhocares DOT org with a few modifications of my own. I did not implement it primarily to block ads– that was a side benefit. It was implemented to block malware, shock sites, and other known sites with ill intent. I could do whitelisting/blacklisting at the hosts level but I’ve not the energy for that now.

    I read TT’s article. Slashdot has been talking about this, too. Some people are stricter than me with tighter controls. I will find a way to support the sites I care about, but I am too disabled and too broke to allow much ads. I don’t mind if others are more permissive, but me… advertisers shouldn’t be trying to squeeze blood from my impoverished self of a stone much anyways. They have better ways to reach me. Appreciate your thoughts; there’s mine.

    1. Do you value any sites which rely only on advertising income? If so, do you still block ads on those?

      1. I’m not sure if you understood all the details in my reply. I know it was rambling, so let me try again (please note I am rewriting this reply several times).

        Essentially I am blocking what Dan Pollock (creator of the “how to make the internet not suck as much” host file) chooses to block. Again, it is written primarily with security in mind, so, understand, that is my intent, not to deprive sites with honest intentions of their income.

        I will spare you the technical details of all the reasons why I choose this solution, which is not the same as adblockers, and why I don’t have the energy or mindset to script things more selectively than Dan.

        I would invite you to read what TT said to me when I replied on that article. Note that I do pause and feel bad when a site gives me a message stating they rely on their advertising. But understand, security (even though I am pretty secure running Linux most of the time, like now) is my primary concern. I have also found that so much advertising is insidious and unwanted. I also believe that sites can find other ways for funding that I will gladly support, despite my indigent means. I will save concrete examples for another time.

        1. I understand, and I’ve seen what the host file blocks. Regardless, most browsers have built-in malware blocking, which only targets the ads distributing malware.

          The host file you’re referring to blocks some advertising sources wholesale, regardless of whether or not there is malware activity.

          Blocking ads for fear of malware is like refusing to pay for something at the grocery store for fear of contracting a sickness from whomever held the cash before you.

          Sites need money to stay online, and some sites can only get that money from advertising. Blocking advertising on those sites essentially means they get nothing from you for their work and resources.

          1. I’m sorry James, but I’m not going to be shamed on this one. I made this decision a long time ago, and I’m sticking to it.

            Yes, I know this is a sledgehammer approach. I have listed my reasons as succinctly as I can; it is not all for the sake of malware. Some of it is privacy, ease on system resources, and so on.

            Do note that timethief said she is blocking everything now and does not feel bad about it. It would seem to me that you respect her decision– or rather, you are not trying to convince her otherwise. I made my decision with a lot of thought and care; and much of my reasons actually mirror hers. I therefore ask that you extend me the same courtesy.

            1. I respect timethief’s decision and your’s, as I’d hope anyone would respect my decision. You don’t have to feel like my comments or posts are in any way meant to shame you into doing anything. You’re more than welcome to not read or respond to them.

              1. You misunderstand… I did not explain myself well from the outset. We shall agree to disagree, and I should have stated that much sooner. Or perhaps I should have said that it was unnecessary to persuade me further, for I have already made my decision.

                I am in a lot of pain today, as I am many days lately. Social subtleties are more lost on me today than they normally are, which is a fair bit for reasons of other illnesses.

                Good day to you, James. Perhaps we will speak later, when I am feeling better.

                1. As a frequent acquaintance with pain myself, best wishes for pain-free days!

  6. […] this, and you’re going to ask, “Hey James, didn’t you just tell us how you never use ad blockers last month? Are you trying to trick us into viewing the ads on WordPress.com?” Goodness no, […]