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On blocking online ads

Written by Tommi on 25.07.2008 12:48:23

Blog image for entry On blocking online ads As far as I've heard, web 2.0 is here. Would someone please tip off online advertisers as well?

As I work in an industry that's basically based on making "all sorts-a cool thingies on the internets" - a field where making revenue is still a far more difficult thing than having cool and nifty new ideas - I've tried my best to assume a live and let live attitude towards online ads. They're obnoxious, but they pay the bills for all the cool services that enrich my day to day life as an obsessive computer user.

But today I decided enough is enough and installed AdBlock. I still don't have anything against ads per se, but here's a list of three things that are now a surefire way of making my shitlist. I mean blocklist:
  1. Make any kind of sound what-so-ever. This for me is the #1 sin. I often have my headphones on or I'm listening to music while I work and most sounds made by ads are designed to attract attention = they're loud, sudden and MAKE ME WANT TO KILL!
  2. Decide to semi-randomly expand over the content area / start floating around / generally get in the way of my browsing experience. I want my online ads to start covering up content pretty much as much as I want telemarketers calling me while I watch Rock Of Love, which is not too much.
  3. Leak memory or eat up all of my resources in general. Yeah Mr. Flash Designer dude, you can do a whole lot of cool shit with that setInterval()-function and I know you can't be bothered with all that technical nonsense, but TRY to act professional and please learn even the basics of threading and resource management. I don't know too much about Flash, but I do know it's probably quite possible to implement a banner without massive memory leaks

There a horde of creative people in the business, so it seems really weird sometimes how lacking the creativity is in the field of online advertising. Sure, there are a lot of cool ideas here and there, but would someone please figure out the new killer format for online ads that'll finally put banners - especially badly implemented Flash-banners - to an eternal sleep. Discrete text ads, sponsored content and all such are a nice add to the ad offering, but so far it seems advertisers are still opting first and foremost for boorish banners.

Also, I'd really love to see more activity like this article on "selling out" by The Daily WTF that describes the weeding-out process the site's webmaster decided to take upon himself to make the ads of his site more discrete and targeted. Webmasters need to step up as well. I know being choosy about ads on your site is cutting down your own revenue, but according to a recent research by Brand Republic internet users are getting more and more savvy and are more prone to vote with the small "x"-button on their browser windows if ads on a site are getting too obtrusive. The number of people willing to stop using a service that has obtrusive ads is rapidly on the rise, so even if you're cutting on your revenue on the short term by declining ads, I don't think losing your users is really worth it on the long term.

So, please be a responsible web citizen. If your favorite site sports nice ads that are properly targeted to the demographic of it's users and the ads are responsibly designed, don't block them and make sure you click on them every now and then. Check out what the advertisers have to offer, if for nothing else, then for support of the site or service you love. On the other hand, if a really cool site is being spoiled by irrelevant and obtrusive ads, let your opinion be heard! Contact the webmaster and try to convince them that they need to get a grip on what kinds of ads are sold for their site. If nothing else helps, go ahead and block the ads or just try to find other sites. It's about time some realities get rammed down the throats of advertisers.

Then again, most internet users could also probably use a reality check on just how important ads are in keeping the whole thing running. Play nice, y'all!
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