Posted on May 18 2014 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
It is almost halfway through 2014, and one particular topic seems to have come up rather frequently—the battle of content providers against Adblock. Not all views on the subject are the same and certainly, there are extremely justifiable reasons to be using Adblock. Reality is advertisements actually make the browsing experience worse. Even for those that don’t inherently mind ads, they do have an effect on overall site load times, which still effects every user that views any particular website.
I’ve argued on a few sides of this with many different users through social media and/or our website comment sections, most recently after Michael Pachter went off calling Adblock users scumbags. To his defense, the user that emailed him the question about Adblock certainly came off as an entitled prick, but that doesn’t mean every one of you are bad for using it.
As an example, who can blame anyone who wants to block ads when this happens:
Beyond that, there is real reason to protect yourself from malware, and who can blame you if you’re visiting a porn site or possibly any site with questionable content? Their ads are certainly not safe in the least bit. It isn’t your fault that there are ads that play sound without your permission or open a site in a new tab or popup without asking (hello, GameTrailers). Of course no one wants to watch a three minute video ad on YouTube or an ad on every resolution change and page load for a Twitch Stream. I am not going to pretend I haven’t used Adblock—there are just times when it must be done for my own sanity.
The sad reality is that the more people who block ads on our site, the worse the ads becomes in terms of quality—because the folks with the big bucks that buy up the most advertising space don’t bother to buy up adspace that is barely there. Thus, the underhanded folks, the ones trying to give away free iPads for customer inconvenience and such buy up the little bit of traffic a site is left with, while EA, Nintendo, etc go to sites that can provide them much more traffic to the ads they have.
Of course, we are a rather small website by comparison to many out there. We’ve been pushing 20,000 viewers a day for the last couple of weeks, but reality our traffic is usually about half that most of the year. Currently, 68% of our viewers block the ads on our site—and I hardly blame them. Even as I feel our ads are not that intrusive, not everyone is comfortable seeing a girl in a Pokémon bra used to advertise an editorial about the greatest Pokémon of all time. Not everyone really cares about Jimmy Johns, Sprint, Showtime, or whatever ads you see locally (someone told us Japan users see ads about teaching Japan people how to speak English). I can sympathize with you—I don’t enjoy them either
The real problem is the advertisers, not you. They are the ones intruding on your experience. Sure, banner ads themselves are inevitable, by why must they make sounds without warning? Why must they open popups? Why must we see lower quality ads that have questionable content?
There is the harsh reality of running a website, too. None of the writers here, myself included, make any money doing what we do. We use countless hours of our week writing and creating content without any more compensation than knowing our viewers are enjoying the content. That doesn’t mean the content is free, of course—we have server bills to pay, domains to keep renewed, and content platforms to keep updated. Our advertising covers such bills, but it is hard dedicating the 30 hours a week or so I do to this site knowing other areas of my life must suffer. Maybe I get less family time with my children, or I have to miss work to cover an event (like E3) in which I get zero compensation. Same is true for all of our staff.
Our goal has always been to offer compensation for the hard work and dedication of our writers, but at the current rate we’re going we will never get there. The quality of work will suffer since we are already spending the little time we have to create it for free. ZI has grown in popularity three or four times over in the last three years, but we haven’t seen any revenue boost to support that growth—only higher server bills with the same amount of money, because as our traffic as risen, so has the amount of Adblock users.
Again, I don’t think you’re evil. Sure, the ones that proudly block ads on our site, hate us, and then try to tell us what to do are pretty much irrelevant to us. If you can’t support what we do, then we really don’t care too much what you specifically want us to be doing, since you likely still wouldn’t support us even if we provided it. But there are plenty that do enjoy what we do. I understand if you won’t turn off Adblock for us, won’t whitelist our sites, but I implore you to consider the option. I know it inconveniences yourself, but it helps us move one step closer to better content and better compensation some day for those that wish to give you all that we can.
You don’t have to turn off Adblock, and we won’t hate you if you don’t, but we’d love if you would. It only helps us get one step closer to better content, better writing, and happier synergy between us and you. For more thoughts on Adblock, be sure to watch Jimquisition. Seriously, it is a really great show.