Blog Oklahoma Podcast 013: Ad Blockers

The modern web browser is a great thing, especially now that you can install an add-on or a plug-in that lets you view the web the way you want to. Unfortunately though, we've come to a decision point for the modern web, between content creators and you the viewer. In this episode I'm going to talk a little bit about ad blocking.

I've tried a few different ad blocker add-ons over the years for both Chrome and Firefox. They all pretty much do the same thing. However many of these ad blockers have started to block more than just ads. They're blocking javascript and other website elements from running. Which in turn breaks many websites.

So for about three and a half weeks now I haven't used an ad blocker at all. I don't even have one installed on any of my workstations. The functionality to many of the websites that were broken by ad blockers has returned.

Of course the user experience on many of these same websites hasn't been good. There are too many intrusive ads, too many overlay ads that require you to click on something, and way too many autoplaying video ads. As a content creator I understand the need for advertising. You should get paid for your hard work. I'm not even debating that point. But when your advertising is overly intrusive, at that point I, as the viewer, has to make the decision whether or not I will return to your website, or if I do return will I just reinstall an ad blocker.

Lately, to get around the need for an ad blocker I've been relying on Evernote's Clearly add-on for Chrome. It doesn't block anything, it just provides an alternate way to read just the article on the page with just a click on a button. I've also stepped up my use of Feedly, an online feed reader, to scan through articles without the need to visit a specific website.

I don't know at what point some of these websites will get that yes advertising is important, but the visitor experience is even more important. If your advertising is driving people away or forcing them to use an ad blocker, you're doing it wrong. And when you get them to starting using an ad blocker, you're ruining it for other content creators.

If you as a visitor want to use an ad blocker, fine. I was using one myself for years. But I want you to keep in mind, for every ad you block is money out of someone's pocket. Mine included. I have small unintrusive banner advertising on many of my websites. Now I don't make an money on my websites. That honestly was never my intention. I think of the Google Ads I have my sites as a tip jar. If you see and click on an ad, I get a few pennies. And every year and a half or so, Google sends me a check, and I get to treat Donna and I to a nice dinner out. So if you block the ads on my sites, it's no big deal. However there are people out there who rely on the advertising for their living. They have bills to pay just like you. And if you really like their content and you block their advertising, that content won't be there much longer.

Here are a few suggestion for you. If you do install an ad blocker, keep it off for most of your browsing, and only turn it on on those sites that behave badly. Another option is to whitelists those all those sites you wish to support. Or, if you can, find an ad blocker that uses a blacklist instead of a whitelist that way you're only blocking the bad actors and not everybody.

Ads on websites are not going to go away anytime soon. Ads will evolve along with the reset of the web to eventually work around these ad blockers. On the other side as long as there is one paranoid person out there not wanting to be tracked through advertising, which is for the most part very harmless by the way, or an advertiser finds away to put up an intrusive overlay flashing punch the monkey ad, ad blockers will also continue to evolve.

The choice, as always, is up to you. Content. Advertising. We'll see.

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