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Ars Technica Inveighs Against Ad Blocking 1051

Posted by kdawson
from the paying-the-piper dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica recently conducted a 12-hour experiment in which story content was hidden from users of popular ad blocking tools. Explaining the experiment, Ken Fisher appealed to Ars's readership: 'My argument is simple: blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical, or makes someone the son of the devil. It can result in people losing their jobs, it can result in less content on any given site, and it definitely can affect the quality of content. It can also put sites into a real advertising death spin. As ad revenues go down, many sites are lured into running advertising of a truly questionable nature. We've all seen it happen. I am very proud of the fact that we routinely talk to you guys in our feedback forum about the quality of our ads. I have proven over 12 years that we will fight on the behalf of readers whenever we can. Does that mean that there are the occasional intrusive ads, expanding this way and that? Yes, sometimes we have to accept those ads. But any of you reading this site for any significant period of time know that these are few and far between. We turn down offers every month for advertising like that out of respect for you guys. We simply ask that you return the favor and not block ads.'"
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Ars Technica Inveighs Against Ad Blocking

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:11AM (#31388738) Journal

    Somehow Internet has made people to forget that creating quality content costs money. Often a lot of money. Often with these kind of things I'm really surprised at how dumb nerdy people can be too. You know, us who should know better and not be those stupid sheeps who are happy have a "mindless" job and then watch tv for rest of the evening and still enjoy it, even if theres no mentally requiring tasks involved.

    But all the while a lot of people, mostly us geeks, cannot grasp that immaterial products and content also costs to create and takes just the same manhours. This is usually the same thing on discussions about piracy too - there's always someone pointing out that "duplicating" that content to sell it to you doesn't cost anything. Really? Are we really that dumb? That may not cost much, but it's creating it that does and those costs are got back from selling it to people. A lot of times a lot later, with some forms of entertainment even years later.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:17AM (#31388762)

      Plural of sheep is sheep.

    • by OffTheWallSoccer (1699154) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:22AM (#31388796)
      For me, it comes down to the annoyance factor. If the ads on a site are cleanly organized in a way that won't distract me while reading the article, then I'm okay with it. But lots of sites display those seizure-inducing, bright-blinking-scrolling ads. THEY get black-listed.
      • by fbjon (692006) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:04AM (#31389302) Homepage Journal
        We need an ad whitelist. I have a blocklist I've copied from somewhere else that effectively blocks just about everything ad-like. However, I don't actually mind ads that are useful and don't flash/scroll/make fart noises. Somehow allowing those through would make the web better for everyone.
        • by illumnatLA (820383) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:30AM (#31389584) Homepage
          I agree... I don't have a problem with web page ads in general.

          It's the damn ads that
          1. Pop up a graphic that covers most of the screen when you accidentally mouse over them
          2. Little floaty windows that float over the content you're trying to look at until you close them
          3. An overabundance of inline text-linked ads that also float something when you mouse over them
          4. Ads that automatically start playing sound.
          5. Seizure inducing blinky ads
          6. Ads that disguise themselves as error messages
          7. Ad servers that slow down the entire page load time

          It seems that some webmasters/advertisers have gotten it into their heads that the more annoying they make their ads, the more likely we are to buy their product. In actuality, all they are doing is causing users to close the window and move on to someone else's less annoying site. If one of their stinking ads gets in the way and I accidentally click it, I don't look at the ad... I immediately close the page it opens in annoyance.

          Stop trying to annoy the hell out of your readers with terrible ads and they'll be more likely to stop using ad blockers or at least whitelist your site.

          • by dc29A (636871) * on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:11AM (#31389978)

            Exactly!

            Take this an anecdote or whatever, just for the kicks I whitelisted Ars Technica.

            For about 100 or so page loads:
            - The majority of the ads are for GQ magazine. I didn't even know what the fuck that was before clicking on the link. And no Ars, I don't give a shit what the fuck Kobe Bryant is wearing neither do I care how Pierce Brosnan is having more fun that me. Also, why am I bombarded with GQ ads in the hardware section of the site?
            - I had 3 annoying Gilette ads about their Fusion razor. Full blown flash with sound. How is this relevant to a tech/geek site? Ars, I really don't care what razor a douchebag steroid abusing baseball player uses. No really, I don't.
            - I get a metric fuckton of ads for Wired magazine, already on their RSS feed, more irrelevant ads.
            - I got about 10 or so Microsoft ads about some 'Business Synergy Client Focused' gobbledygook. What the shit? Oh and it's animated flash bogging down my machine.
            - I got about 5 or so ads that didn't load completely, I can't even make out what the fuck they are. Trying to connect to some backwater adserver, great way to make sure the page will take years to load.

            Why can't I get ads I would be even remotely interested in? Gadgets deals, hardware deals, game deals, interesting bands, interesting books ... you know ... geek stuff? I don't care about fucking GQ, I am not "GQ", never will be.

            Sorry Ars, back to the block list.

            • by wilsone8 (471353) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:51AM (#31390380)

              And yet, your post seems to show that advertising was working on you:

              - The majority of the ads are for GQ magazine. I didn't even know what the fuck that was before clicking on the link

              . Perfect. The ad gave you knowledge of a product you were unaware of before. That's the whole point of advertising.

              - I had 3 annoying Gilette ads about their Fusion razor.

              If you can remembver the name of the product afterwards, then the ad is working. Also, and I know this may come as a shock, but not every ad is going to be perfectly relevent to you.

              - I get a metric fuckton of ads for Wired magazine, already on their RSS feed, more irrelevant ads

              You expect Ars to some how know that ahead of time? You whine that the ads aren't relevent, but they are for a product you already use. I would say that means the ad was at least targeted at the right demographic, even if its not relevent to you in particular.

              - I got about 10 or so Microsoft ads about some 'Business Synergy Client Focused' gobbledygook

              Another tech related ad on a tech site. Makes sense to me...

              All this is missing the point of the article. Ars gets paid by the view. If you don't view ads, they don't get paid. That means they have to get rid of staff, reduce content, etc. If you like Ars, you should view the ads. If you don't want to view the ads, then either become a subscriber or don't view Ars.

              • by mundanetechnomancer (1343739) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @07:34PM (#31395468)

                - I had 3 annoying Gilette ads about their Fusion razor.

                If you can remembver the name of the product afterwards, then the ad is working. Also, and I know this may come as a shock, but not every ad is going to be perfectly relevent to you.

                this is based on the concept that anytime someone remembers the ad, the ad is a success. I have avoided products because i found their ads annoying, but marketing people don't think that happens

              • by NickFortune (613926) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:26AM (#31398626) Homepage Journal

                And yet, your post seems to show that advertising was working on you:

                Well then, I guess that's a win for the advertiser. As long as they're happy to define win as having one more consumer who hates and publically reviles their product. I know a lot of ad agencies think like that.

                It's not a win for Ars, however, since the GP (disgusted with the annoyance factor of the ads in question) has gone back to blocking ads on the site.

                Ars are a good site and I care what happens to them. I don't give a wet fart about GQ or Gillette. Ars had a chance to add an increment to their ad revenue and lost it, purely becuase of over aggressive advertising. You say they ads are working, but they're not working to the benefit of Ars Technica. Not in this instance, at least.

                In TFA, Ken Fisher makes the point that websites advertising is not like TV advertising. I think maybe the ad agencies need to learn the same lesson: this isn't like broadcast TV where you can pump the most noxious crap into people's homes willy-nilly. On the Internet you advertise at a person largely by their consent. If you over tax the paitence of your target audience, you risk losing it, possibly forever.

                There's are lessons for web sites here, too. Fisher says that Ars monitors its web content very carefully, but it seems to me that they dont set the bar high enough. If they forbade animated and flash based-ads from the site, they'd have a far stronger chance of persuading their readers to whitelist the site.

            • by Ifni (545998) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @12:26PM (#31391398) Homepage

              Why can't I get ads I would be even remotely interested in?

              Probably because you block ads, therefore preventing the ad hosting companies from developing a history of your browsing habits with which to create better targeted content. So when you do finally unblock ads you have to suffer whatever random ads their confused algorithm throws your way. It's a vicious cycle, I know, but if you are genuinely open to targeted advertising then you have to sacrifice a little of your privacy. If you want to continue to enjoy free content on the Internet, you (maybe not you personally, but a significant percentage of the population) have to accept some level of advertising. I hate the obnoxious ads just as much as the next person, but the problem also is that ads that stay conveniently and quietly out of the way are also easy to ignore, and thus ineffective. Obnoxious ads annoy users and so perform the opposite of their intended function, so there is a very fine balancing act where everybody (well, most everybody) has to make some sacrifice for the system to work.

              Slow ad servers, however, are unforgivable. Or, more accurately, poorly designed websites that require ad content to be loaded before the page can be properly rendered that are then tied to slow ad servers, are unforgivable. If I could view the page content while the ads are being downloaded, then I could obviously care less if they ever finish loading. Waiting for 30 seconds to see the content I originally came to see while watching a commercial (like on TV) is one thing, waiting 30 seconds TO EVEN watch a commercial AND the content I originally came to see (as with a slow ad server) is quite another.

              I do appreciate your argument that an algorithm, knowing nothing else about you, and thus just beginning to build its database on you, should take note that you are browsing a tech site and provide tech targeted ads like video games and computer hardware. But then again, personal grooming products and magazines that frequently feature scantily clad females is not all that unexpected of an (stereotypical) interest for that demographic.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Sir_Lewk (967686)

                Probably because you block ads, therefore preventing the ad hosting companies from developing a history of your browsing habits with which to create better targeted content.

                I'm not buying that, it is not hard for a site to get advertisements that are relevant to their readers.

                Hell, this is something even slashdot gets right. Almost all of the advertisements on slashdot are geek related in some way, generally advertising enterprise software of various sorts or whatever. Slashdot also lets certain registere

        • by walt-sjc (145127) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:32AM (#31389610)

          I'll allow static non-animated pictures. Anything with flash, javascript, or embedded in iframes is blocked. If you can't communicate your message with a picture, you don't deserve my attention. Oh - and adwords is fine too.

          Advertisers have no morals and no shame. If they could legally send a barker around who breaks into your house and yells at you through a megaphone, they would. The industry would (and currently is attempting to) outlaw any technology that is capable of bypassing ads in any medium. Hell, if they could get away with it, they would outlaw eyelids so you couldn't close your eyes and mandate locking seatbelts that wouldn't allow you to get up and go to the bathroom during commercial breaks.

          Did I mention I hate most ads?

      • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@@@gmail...com> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:06AM (#31389336) Homepage Journal

        As ad revenues go down, many sites are lured into running advertising of a truly questionable nature.

        Ars is full of crap on this issue. Annoying and questionable ads didn't come about because of ad blockers. Ad blockers came about to stop the animated "your computer is infected" GIFs and "punch the monkey" Flash ads. Many ad blocker lists specifically avoided blocking text ads because these weren't annoying and borderline illegal.

        Ad blocker are a result of evil ads, just like popup blockers were invented to stop annoying pop ups, (not because someone in some tall tower thought that popup blocker might be useful at some future time). Wake up, Ars.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ifni (545998)

          I think that the point Ars is trying to make is that while yes, the ad blockers were created to block the truly hideous ads, they over-zealously also block the more acceptable ads, thus punishing the sites that refuse to run the obnoxious ads, even though they aren't contributing to the problem. His argument that sites are lured into running those such bad ads is a little more flimsy, however, as it seems to me that such a decision would only accelerate an already existing death spiral as more customers ar

      • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:19AM (#31389466)
        Ironically Slashdot demonstrated this for me when I tried to pull up their front page before coming into this story. I'm on a pretty snappy connection, and Slashdot is no slouch, but because my browser was waiting on ad.doubleclick.com I was stuck looking at the top banner and that was pretty much it.

        If you have js code that loads ads it *must* come at the end of the page. I try to be good about keeping adblock off, but incidents of these things lead me to blocking a domain's ads.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      While we're at it, we should also all pull the "fast forward" buttons off of our DVR remotes, too. Television shows cost a lot of money to produce, and we shouldn't deny the TV networks their hard-earned ad revenue either. And we should read every ad in newspapers and magazines, too. Don't forget when you're driving down the freeway on your way to work to stop and read the billboards, too. You guys out there actually watching the road are irresponsible freeloaders!

      • by Svippy (876087) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:39AM (#31389010) Homepage
        From TFA:

        Invariably someone always pops into a discussion like this and brings up some analogy with television advertising, radio, or somesuch. It is not in any way the same; advertisers in those mediums are paying for potential to reach audiences, and not for results. They have complex models which tell them if X number are watching, Y will likely see the ad (and it even varies by ad position, show type, etc!). But they really have no true idea who sees what ad, and that's why it's a medium based on potential and not provable results. On the Internet everything is 100% trackable and is billed and sold as such. Comparing a website to TiVo is comparing apples to asparagus.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr2001 (90979)

          But [TV advertisers] really have no true idea who sees what ad, and that's why it's a medium based on potential and not provable results. On the Internet everything is 100% trackable and is billed and sold as such.

          Yes, now take that one step further - on the internet, you can track clicks, not just views. I don't click on ads, period, so why should Ars or their advertisers care whether or not my browser displays them?

    • by scarboni888 (1122993) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:28AM (#31388862)

      Look - I don't care. In these days of over-saturation of accessible media, information, and other distractions I can tune into something else. If the business model a particular artist or other outfit doesn't work out without me shelling out cash or refraining from blocking the ads then that's not my fault - I'll find another distraction or information source that has found a business model that works.

      I'm getting so sick and tired of this dinosaurian party line that we should be expected to pay for content! Seriously - you know what I say? I say that as a content producer you should feel fucking privileged that I'm spending my precious valuable time sopping up your info-goop with my greymatter sponge as opposed to spending it on some other outlet/avenue/source of infostream.

      It's called supply and demand. When the supply is infinite the cost is nil.

      In fact if I had it my way content producers would throw in some cash to attract my eyeballs to their info-goop stream. let's get with the times, people!

      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:34AM (#31388936) Journal

        You may have over-saturation of content, but it's shitty content and a lot of times copied from other sites (now before someone jumps on it, I don't include slashdot with this - the comments and discussions here are sometimes great and unique). But quality content does cost. If they can't sustain making it with ads, they will start asking users to pay for the content. I know a few sites I would pay for, just because I find their content good and a few dollars a month wouldn't really be so much (price of one beer that you wouldn't even hesitate to think about?)

        I'm getting so sick and tired of this dinosaurian party line that we should be expected to pay for content!

        Heh.

    • by wolffenrir (1065076) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:30AM (#31388888)
      Then figure out another way to make money. If you business model is based upon annoying the shit out everybody, ripping through cycles, and just peddling bullshit on your website, then just have the guts to fail instead of begging people to play along with your stupid business plan.

      Half of the people out there with Windows machines infested with malware got that malware because they DID NOT use privacy and security extensions. So we are all supposed to pretend like this practice a good idea just so somebody can continue making money on a business model we have known is a failed concept for almost a decade?

      It's a bad idea. If you want to sell something, then just write it out in your html. Don't play games with your customers' privacy and security. Let's not forget that these adservers also act as data collectors which threaten our privacy in rather serious circumstances.

      When a newspaper runs ads, it is not jammed right in the middle of an article. It doesn't jump of the fucking page and flash in red letters. It doesn't create another newspaper filled with bullshit ads and malware and shoot it out at your face. But when we are talking about ads on the web, that is exactly what is happening. We are never talking about people just putting a sales pitch and graphic embedded in the html.

      Just modify the scripts that generate your pages to insert the ads yourself. Don't use third parties. Don't fuck with your users. You might be surprised by the result.

      • by d3ac0n (715594) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:04AM (#31389314)

        I'm with wolffenrir.

        As an IT guy I spend far too much time cleaning up infected machines due to malware gotten from bad ads.

        Frankly, I simply cannot trust ANYONE anymore. Understand that I have seen infections start after people visited CNN.com, Foxnews.com, MSNBC.com, ESPN.com, Facebook, Amazon, and MANY MANY MANY other major news/social/other sites that serve banner ads from 3rd party vendors. (or from a poorly secured internal ad server)

        At this point I simply block all ads everywhere. I use Firefox with Adblock Plus and No Script and my surfing is safe.

        I'm sorry Ars, but until you make a solemn and public oath (permanently posted to your front page) to only serve static image content using only html (no flash, no javascript, nothing but plaintext html) then frankly I can't trust you with my PC.

        I understand that this is preventing you from making money, but you haven't earned my TRUST yet. You have to earn that BEFORE you get to earn money from me.

        I'm sorry if that upsets your business model, but that's just too damn bad. You don't get to make money from me while putting my machine at risk.

      • by Machtyn (759119) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:07AM (#31389342) Homepage Journal
        I will have to agree on a point here. For me, besides getting rid of the annoyance factor, it is a security issue. I trust the sites I browse. I don't necessarily trust the third party sites that inject the advertising on to a page. Even reputable sites [slashdot.org] get bad adverts on their page.

        My one disagreement on the above is the comment on newspaper ads. Many times the articles are split between two pages, the ads are in the middle of the article or are placed in a way that adjusts the flow of text so that you notice them.
      • by andydread (758754) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:26AM (#31389556)
        Hey skxawng! Have you even read ars? Hardly any of the tripe you wrote here applies to that site. I just whitelisted them to see and no pop-ups, no-crazy flashing and all i can see are 2 ads on the entire page. One of which is an ars internal ad on the side about an article. The other is a banner at the very top of the page. I plan to leave them permanently in my whitelist. If they screw up with crappy flash of popups then I will remove them from my whitelist.
        • by makomk (752139) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:59AM (#31389878) Journal

          Well, it figures that the ads would be at their tamest right now, since Ars Technica is trying to encourage people to turn off ad-blocking. They've had problems in the past, though, and apparently even deliberately run obnoxious ads [arstechnica.com]:

          As for the larger, more intrusive ads: they are here to stay, provided they abide by our guidelines. We have two options: run these kinds of ads on a limited, select basis (usually one per reader per 24 hours), or stop publishing. That was true 5 years ago, and it is even more true today. Ideally, we'd be able to run these ads without them breaking stuff. We're trying to address that. But these kinds of ads, rare as they may be, are essential to our business. While I am well aware of many of your personal theories as to the ultimate detriment of these ads on a longterm basis, I do not agree and will abide by my data. I have 11 years experience running this business, through worse times than the present, and I remained convinced that we are making the right moves 90% of the time.

          Also, note that stuff like obnoxious expand-on-rollover ads is apparently also entirely within the rules.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:31AM (#31389596)

        I hear a lot of talk about how annoying ads are from the perspective of people viewing the ads. I have seen numerous articles written by people like Ken Fisher which bemoan the fact that their companies need advertising revenue in order to stay afloat. Of course, I have also seen all of the marketing fluff from the ad networks talking about how great their services are for people like myself who are trying to sell a product.

        I want people to block my ads -- as a ad buyer why the hell would I want to pay for an impression, or a click through, from somebody who is not interested in my product? Now, of course I sell something that is legit and my business plan does not depend on some poor bastard accidentally clicking my ad.

        Anyway, as an ad buyer, I encourage people to block ads -- if you are not interested in seeing an ad then block it -- save me money.

      • by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:45AM (#31389738)
        Like many here I find web ads annoying but I have previously considered whether I should disable adblock for "the sake of the web".

        I came to the following conclusion. My girlfriend doesn't run adblock on her laptop and since she spends all my money anyway, their targeted advertising should probably target her.
    • by blincoln (592401) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:55AM (#31389200) Homepage Journal

      I was fine with advertising on websites when it was limited to (non-controversial) static images without sound.
      I started using ad-blocking software when website advertising became animated, sound-producing, and often included content that wouldn't be appreciated where I work. I became more aggressive about it when it expanded to include things that cover up the content on the site I'm reading, or similar popup-style behaviour.
      Having had it hidden from me for years now, I find unfiltered websites a mind-numbing barrage of distraction that teeters on the edge of unusability. I had a similar experience when I moved away from watching television. I love films and serials, but I no longer have any interest in watching them in broadcast/cable/satellite form due to the ADD-inducing advertising model.

    • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@nospAm.carpanet.net> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:20AM (#31389480) Homepage

      Sure but, theres two sides to this coin. I think that my own use case here illustrates this well.

      I don't run ad blocking software, however, I do run noscript and requestpolicy. These are firefox addons that allow me to control what scripts and other risky (from the point of view of maintianing the integrity of my environment, including the security of my personal information) content run in my local browser by site.

      As an example, fsdn.com and slashdot.org are both allowed to run their scripts right now, and fsdn is allowed to get requests from this site. So should someone manage to inject some content that would cause slashdot to tell my browser to run a script on some other random attack page... it would be refused unless I decided to allow it.

      Now... anyone who knows much about how web ads work can see the problem here. This setup, done entirely for reasons other than ad blocking, blocks ads voraciously. Its not my fault, I didn't say "I want to block ads" but...the ads are all implemented in a way that makes it impossible to, wholesale, honor them, without risking honoring a malicous and common attack. Also, many of these ad sites attempt to track me from site to site, which, I do not condone.

      They have every right to advertise and have advertising. They even have every right to close their site down to paying members, or just people who they can verify in some way view their ads, or run their scripts.

      Of course, they don't do that because it would drive away readers if it became less convenient. Instead they have nothing that they can do but bitch and moan about the fact that other people aren't using what they are giving away publically for free in the manner that they intended people to use it.

      Thats always a winnining strategy. Whining.

      -Steve

    • by Epsillon (608775) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:34AM (#31389634) Homepage Journal
      That's all very well, but these ad farms aren't just serving ads, are they? Most of the time they're also installing tracking cookies and collecting private information. You want me to see ads? Don't try to track me, then. Until this shit stops, I won't just be using AdBlock, I'll be blacklisting ad farms on my proxy and barring them on the gateway. Not only is this the primary motivation for me eschewing ad farms but it is also my fundamental right to retain control of what I allow in and out of my private network. Don't like it? Tough. My network, my rules.
    • by RocketScientist (15198) * on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:40AM (#31389688)

      Do you use a DVR to skip commercials?

      If so, please explain how that's different from using adblock.

      Now I'll tell you how using a DVR is different from using adblock. I haven't seen a TV commercial that an infect my TV and make it quit working or invade my privacy or steal my identity. I have seen very widespread Flash advertisements on web pages that will do exactly that.

    • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:52AM (#31389806)

      Somehow Internet has made people to forget that creating quality content costs money. Often a lot of money. Often with these kind of things I'm really surprised at how dumb nerdy people can be too.

      Dumb? Or just indifferent? This is a society which glorifies greed and selfishness, of watching out for number one and putting one's personal gain above all. Time and again do hear that the purpose of business is to generate profits for the owner, not care for the common good. Again and again do "libertarians" argue against public services because they require taxation. Should it really come as a surprise when the rest of us say "fine" and jump in on the bandwagon? And does that really make us dumb?

      This is simply normal people emulating the aristocracy, doing what they're told is proper and good over and over again. "Not my problem", says a businessman who fires his employees; "not my problem", says a netizen who deprives a site of any source of revenue. Welcome to the next round of "Consequences of Capitalism"; the sound you heard is the society slowly crumbling around you since no one can be bothered to maintain it and often actively cursing any attempt to force them to.

      You know, us who should know better and not be those stupid sheeps who are happy have a "mindless" job and then watch tv for rest of the evening and still enjoy it, even if theres no mentally requiring tasks involved.

      I enjoy Jackass. It doesn't mean I'm dumb, it just means I enjoy Jackass.

      You fail logic forever [tvtropes.org]. But then again, most people who call others "sheep" do.

    • by Burz (138833) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:31AM (#31390178) Journal

      They could more closely emulate the ads of printed media, which drew only rare complaints from readers... or they could emulate the ads of TV, which cause a lot of people to recoil.

      What we got on the web are TV-like ads without sound but which:

      still flicker, shake and gyrate;
      actively obstruct the UI;
      imitate system warnings to mislead;
      peg the CPU to near 100% on slower systems;
      act as a programmable vector for malware and surveillance.

      Yikes.

      In order to keep infection rates of my naive Windows customers down, I have to not only educate them about trojans and phishing (teaching them to hover over links before clicking works wonders)... I also have to install Adblock as an absolute necessity. Otherwise they WILL get infected in short order, often in an attempt to rid themselves of an "infection" that a popup ad "found".

      What's more, this is not television. People come to the Internet to find what they want, not to have "Hey we know what you want!!" pushed in their faces twice as often as with ye olde media.

      I now believe that ads should be limited to GIFs and JPEGs on the website's main page. The advertisers crossed over into unethical territory before ad-blocking users, about the same time that actual content on websites became heavily dependent on Javascript. That leaves me with the following questions: What are journalists and advertisers doing about this problem? Do advertisers even care that their delivery infrastructure is poisonous?

      Adblock might compromise by letting GIF and JPEG through as a default. But these questions still need to be dealt with.

  • by codeguy007 (179016) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:21AM (#31388788)

    The only reason, I have ad block is because of facebook. While personally I don't like facebook, I have lots of friends on it so I do use it. The problem with facebook is it allows ads that look exactly like facebook apps. Sometimes is really hard to tell the ad from the app. So I installed Ad block plus to remove those annoying ads. If facebook would smarten up and start blocking those ads, I would be willing to remove the ad blocker.

    • by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:42AM (#31389050) Journal

      Its the advertisers fault. I understand that advertising is all about making sure your message is heard above the noise but they are the ones who jumped the shark.

      When it was just banners and the occasional frame with some adds in it, I never attempted to filter them out other than with my own mental powers. When they started doing pop-ups and float overs, I even tolerated it. When they started making adds that pretended to be system messages, virus scanner alerts, and other applications that really struck me as fraudulent and abusive and so I started blocking ads and helping others do the same.

  • by markdavis (642305) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:23AM (#31388802)

    We have been through all this stuff over and over again. People wouldn't have started blocking ads in the first place if they were reasonable ads. These are the reasons I use an ad-blocker:

    * Animation- movement of any type
    * Sound
    * Popups
    * Flyouts
    * More ad space than content space
    * Slow loading third-party sites

    I am so anti-animation (I can't STAND movement on the screen while I am trying to read) that I have to block even non-Ad content (using "Flash Killer" and/or a manual Adblock addition for those sections with movement). Sometimes I even have to resort to killing Javascript ("JS Switch"). I don't want to deny sites revenue, but without being able to block the above types of Ad's, I wouldn't visit (or stay on) a site, anyway- so there is little difference.

    Sorry Ars Technica... you can CLAIM your ads are non-intrusive and "quality", but I just visited your site with adblocking off and was immediately met with one highly annoying animated banner and a second, lower-animated, section. At least you only had two.

    I am tired of companies trying to turn the Internet into Television.

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:50AM (#31389138)

      *My* RAM. *My* bandwidth.

      I pay for it all, and I don't really care if your site folds (this includes you slashdot), you're just a momentary diversion, don't flatter yourself otherwise. There will be another along in 10 minutes.

      So, i'm going to continue to block images, particularly moving ones. Javascript, flash, and pretty much anything else they come up with. I used to leave google ads alone, they were relevant, textual and just sat there inviting a click, but they blew it as well.
       

      • by edumacator (910819) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:05AM (#31389322)

        Wow.

        What a parasitic way to think about the content on the internet...

        Personally, I try to reward good content...yeah that's you slashdot...sometimes...by allowing their ads. But I accept your somewhat jaded perspective. Hopefully their are enough people like me out there, so good sites don't fail.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KPU (118762)

          Slashdot gave me a checkbox to disable ads. They're not making money from showing me ads. They're making money from my comments which apparently draw people here who don't use AdBlock.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hurricane78 (562437)

          Yeah, about as parasitic, as taking stuff
          that someone else throws out there for free, for everyone to see.

          It doesn’t matter what you ask for AFTER you passed on the information. It’s too late. Passing on information equals splitting control with the destination. You can ask for something in exchange, before doing that. But afterwards it’s too late.

          Besides: You seem to not even realize how browsing works:
          Let’s use a snail mail analogy: When “going” to a page, thats’s

      • by Pav (4298) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:47AM (#31389762)
        I agree. I've been on the web since the beginning, and I can't remember clicking on a single ad... I can say with certainty that I've never made any purchases because of them. I actually hope banning ad blockers becomes the norm - I'm already inhabiting the non-commercial areas of the Internet more and more (eg. technical discussions on IRC after a LOOOONG hiatus after the 90's, mailing lists etc...). I strongly suspect forcing ads on people will precipitate out the more technically minded users with less patience for distraction to the non-commercial net. I'd be quite happy with that. If that makes me parasitic so be it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981)
      Could not possibly agree more!

      I've never seen many animated ads on websites. In the days before adblock, I'd scroll the screen, put a piece of paper over that part of the monitor, or just leave the site -- never to return usually.

      No-one has ever gotten any money from me by showing me an animated ad. No-one EVER will. If by chance I happen to catch the name of the company that produced the ad, I will do everything I can to avoid buying from them for the rest of my life. If your company doesn't respect
    • by Bit101 (1228382) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:57AM (#31389228)
      I'm with that too. I'm perfectly fine with ads like the Google text ads. Hell, I even enjoy them sometimes. I went to a site that had these ads that constantly advertised for different MMOs, which I tried. I won't have found about these sites.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lc_overlord (563906)

      I have to agree, though personally i don't mind the slightly animated ones.

      They started it (not specifically Ars Technica), they got greedy in wanting to maximize ad exposure and now they have to pay the price, it's that simple.
      I mean i am not against advertising as i am myself trying to start something up that is partially ad supported, but until something can be done about this i have to block everything, and so should everyone else.

      I have a suggestion, lets introduce a new html tag called noadblock (or p

  • Ads suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcelrath (8027) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:25AM (#31388832) Homepage

    Ads are invasive, intrusive, annoying, and I don't want to see them. ever. There are laws against sending advertisements over the fax and cold-calling cell phones. The logic is that the recipient must pay for the unsolicited advertisement (in fax paper, toner, or cell phone minutes).

    Internet ads are no different. I pay for bandwidth and connection time, so your ad directly costs me money, and it should be illegal for that reason. It costs me time too, making your page slower and more annoying. I don't want to have to hunt for the content among all the cleverly disguised ads. I don't want to have to examine the links to figure out which ones are ads and which ones are legitimate.

    I will continue blocking ads until the end of time. If you can't figure out how to make money without annoying people, that's your problem. Get creative folks, and stop whining about how you wish people would just be more receptive to being annoyed.

    • Re:Ads suck (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Iyonesco (1482555) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:33AM (#31388926)

      If you don't want to see adverts don't visit any websites that have adverts on them. If you're repeatedly visiting websites that you know to have adverts then you're looking at the adverts voluntarily so it is no way an invasion or an intrusion.

      Besides, without adverts the only way websites will be able to fund themselves is through fees. Would you rather pay a few dollars a month for every website you visit?

      • Re:Ads suck (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcelrath (8027) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:48AM (#31389108) Homepage

        If you don't want to see adverts don't visit any websites that have adverts on them.

        That's supposed to work how? I'll just reprogram my browser to send a HTTP DOESTHISSITEHAVEADS request before following every link...

        Besides, without adverts the only way websites will be able to fund themselves is through fees. Would you rather pay a few dollars a month for every website you visit?

        Yes. But I don't want to juggle 50 different subscriptions at $50/year each. Get creative folks.

        I do have a couple subscriptions, but I'm not going to buy a subscription for a one-off site I visit because the link appeared on slashdot (or google news, or twitter...). The threshold for buying a subscription is very high. e.g. I had one for lwn.net because I loved their excellent kernel traffic summaries, and I found myself reading it weekly for that.

        Get creative.

  • Sometimes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:26AM (#31388840)

    If sometimes you 'have to accept those ads' then I have to block your ads totally. Maybe you should rethink that strategy, Ars?

  • by Deorus (811828) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:28AM (#31388866)

    You won't be indexed by search engines, so you lose more than if you don't block it. Furthermore I stay clear of any website forcing me to add exceptions to NoScript that would allow third party advertisers to run any kind of code on my browser.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by YojimboJango (978350)

      I'm with parent on this one. I don't default to trusting anyone running code on my machine. I've got flash and javascript blocked by default (NoScript, FlashBlock).

      If I trust your site (and I do trust Ars Technica), I'll white list them and only them for javascript. However I do not trust the half dozen shady ad and tracking services wanting to run scripts.

      If you want my ad views, host it yourself.

  • by Ziekheid (1427027) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:31AM (#31388898)

    Ads are fine with me as long as they aren't screenfilling/blocking content (like some flash ads that fill your entire screen with some shitty animation).
    I have adblock enabled by default but add sites I visit regularly (like this one) in the allowed list so they can display ads.

  • by kasper_souren (1577647) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:31AM (#31388902) Homepage
    They're missing the point. Most of the ads only get them money if people click on them. From my experience people who run adblock software are also people who refuse to click on ads in general. So instead of calling people to be annoyed by ads they should call people to turn off their adblock for a second, click on an ad and turn it back on. But well, that's not gonna make the advertisers happy. The authors of Adblock Plus came up with a better proposal http://adblockplus.org/blog/an-approach-to-fair-ad-blocking [adblockplus.org] - I wonder if Ars Technica has looked into that.
    • by Nirac (1347363) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:59AM (#31389258)
      From the article:

      "There is an oft-stated misconception that if a user never clicks on ads, then blocking them won't hurt a site financially. This is wrong. Most sites, at least sites the size of ours, are paid on a per view basis."
      • by pr0nbot (313417) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:15AM (#31390020)

        Is there a version of adblock that hides the ad but still downloads ("views") it, to /dev/null?

      • by dzfoo (772245) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:28AM (#31390150)

        But that argument itself is based on a misconception: that advertisers are just nice rich guys that will throw money at you for just displaying ads, and that the mere fact of exposing the ads is value in and of itself.

        Advertising is an investment. The expectation of the advertiser is to recoup that investment by increased sales or market share. If site visitors ultimately do not care about the ads and do not click on them, or somehow the impressions are not translated into a return on that investment; then they do nothing for the advertiser. Eventually, the value of those ads will decrease to the advertiser, to the point that it will pay less for them, or it may decide not to advertise at all on your site.

        In the end, it is not just merely displaying the ads that makes money, but the complex dynamics of the market, its interaction with potential customers, and the ability to influence their behaviour. Sure, the nice rich guys will throw money at you for the short term, with the promise that all those eyes on your site will eventually turn into gold, but counting on this a priori is a flawed business model.

        This is not to say that advertising does not work. Obviously it makes a lot of money to a lot of people. However, it means that a site cannot monetize every single viewer, at least not realistically for the long term. It also means that those who refuse to view your ads will only inflate your page view count artificially, if somehow you manage to force them into exposing them to the ads. And ultimately, this will result in diluting the value of your site to advertisers.

                -dZ.

        • by Cl1mh4224rd (265427) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @02:01PM (#31392514)

          But that argument itself is based on a misconception: that advertisers are just nice rich guys that will throw money at you for just displaying ads, and that the mere fact of exposing the ads is value in and of itself.

          Advertising is an investment. The expectation of the advertiser is to recoup that investment by increased sales or market share. If site visitors ultimately do not care about the ads and do not click on them, or somehow the impressions are not translated into a return on that investment; then they do nothing for the advertiser. Eventually, the value of those ads will decrease to the advertiser, to the point that it will pay less for them, or it may decide not to advertise at all on your site.

          So how do you explain advertising in traditional print media, television, or radio? There's no inherent means of tracking purchases, or even interest, generated by advertisements placed in those mediums. And I don't think anyone considers McDonald's to be "nice, rich guys" for paying large sums of cash to have their latest burger repeatedly displayed on a television screen.

          Companies will pay good money to simply get their product in front of a lot of people, with no guarantee that any of those viewers will actually purchase the advertised product (immediately or... ever).

          I'm not here to defend advertsing (I use NoScript, which blocks the vast majority of ads on websites), but your view seems completely wrong-headed.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:31AM (#31388910)
    Or changing the channel when a commercial comes on?
  • My thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mystery00 (1100379) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:32AM (#31388912)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't internet ads generate their revenue through the amount of clicks they incur? I know Google's ads do this.

    By using adblock, what I'm saying is: I'm never going to be clicking on any of the ads on your website.

    If I didn't use it, I still wouldn't be clicking on any ads on your website and they will also annoy me.

    It's most likely that the people using ad blocking don't care about the ads you display and won't be clicking on them anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't internet ads generate their revenue through the amount of clicks they incur? I know Google's ads do this.

      By using adblock, what I'm saying is: I'm never going to be clicking on any of the ads on your website.

      If I didn't use it, I still wouldn't be clicking on any ads on your website and they will also annoy me.

      It's most likely that the people using ad blocking don't care about the ads you display and won't be clicking on them anyway.

      You are wrong.

      Ads did used to pay only for clickthrough, but I think this model went away a few years ago, because it was a poor model for advertising, and failed to account for the value of branding even when a sale isn't directly attributable to a specific viewing of a specific ad.

      Ads currently pay two ways: for clicks and for views. Even if you never click, if your browser downloads and displays the ad, it helps support the site that presented the ad. So, if you're blocking ads entirely, you're denyin

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:36AM (#31388954) Homepage Journal

    I posted this there, and I'll post it here, too.

    I consider it irresponsible not to browse the web with a really good ad/Flash/javascript blocker. Not just because of the annoyance factor, but because it is a significant vector of malicious code attacks. This isn't just hypothetical; in the recent past, sites such as Wikia and a gaming site I visit injected malicious code and infected users' machines. The site hosts were completely unaware of it; the code was being injected through a third-party ad provider. Fortunately, I found out about this through someone else when they brought it to my attention, because the code never made it to my browser.

    Ars raises a good point, but the simple truth is that given the choice between having less content available or putting my system's security at risk, I'll choose the first option any day. I'm sorry--I really am, because I know that it is devastating to sites such as theirs, and I'd gladly whitelist their site but for the risk. I don't blame reputable sites like Ars, I blame a decade and a half of abuse by ad companies. But such is the state of affairs.

    Plus, please keep in mind that a lot of sites I visit are new to me, and they're sites that I don't know whether or not they're reputable. Many of them engage in what I consider an "ad assault" on me, barraging me with all sorts of annoyances for content that is of little to no value. When I'm just puttering around the Internet without visiting one of my usual haunts, most of the content means so little to me that until I have a chance to evaluate whether or not it's worth it and whether or not they advertise in some sane, responsible manner, I feel fully justified in not letting them force feed such annoyances to me.

    For what it's worth, he is right, I'm glad they brought the issue up in a tactful manner, and I'm going to subscribe to Ars since I do indeed find its content of high value. When sites I value provide such an alternate business model for paying for their existence, I do try to do my part to support them.

    • by Stray7Xi (698337) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:37AM (#31389662)

      I consider it irresponsible not to browse the web with a really good ad/Flash/javascript blocker. Not just because of the annoyance factor, but because it is a significant vector of malicious code attacks.

      Exactly. I will gladly view the ads if they were served by Ars (yes I know this isn't how web advertising economics works). I have a relationship with ars, they provide me with content. I'm willing to reciprocate in some way but I'm not giving the keys to my computer to some stranger who writes Ars a check. I don't have a relationship with doubleclick, adsense or f7feghn.cn. I don't trust those sites, and even if they served me plain static images I don't want them tracking my web browsing. I'm a kindle subscriber to Ars and I adblock them on my PC.

  • by TodLiebeck (633704) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:40AM (#31389020) Homepage

    If I open Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, with a few tabs active in each on popular sites, the entirety of both cores of my Intel E7500 CPU will be consumed by Flash advertisements.

    I'm on a Linux machine with a lot of memory, which makes for the worst case scenario: First, Flash is horrible on Linux. Second, I use virtual desktops and leave browsers open for days at a time. Memory is not a problem.

    Flash ads tend to be poorly written by a creative designer who could give a rat's rear end about your system resources.

    The ads interfere with my ability to work, which costs me money. They also cause my computer to consume significantly more power. So in effect, your Flash ads are even bad for the environment.

    They're also of course quite annoying, and if given only the options of browsing the internet with Flash ads or not browsing the internet at all, I'll choose the latter.

    How about you try this experiment: Turn off Flash ads. Post a banner at the top of your site that says, "Hey, we've turned off Flash ads. Please exclude this site from your ad blocker so we can make money."

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:43AM (#31389062) Homepage

    I've never really bothered to block web content until recently. But I've now started using rekonq's Click-To-Flash mode having seen (far too many times) pointless Flash applets consuming 100% CPU when I just leave them. I'm currently using nspluginwrapper so at least I can hunt down the misbehaving Flash and kill it directly (a la Google Chrome), which is better than the old days where I had to guess which Firefox tab might contain an applet that's hammering performance. Unfortunately this means I don't see all the ads - I've never been that bothered by ads appearing, just one of those things that you get because people need to pay the bills. Occasionally ads are even amusing (e.g. the Plants vs Zombies parodies of the maddening Evony psuedo-porn adverts).

    I don't block adverts specifically, though. Non-Flash ads are free to take up screen space and my attention and very rarely they're even interesting. Google's text-based ads are also fine, although some sites make it difficult to distinguish those from the actual articles. But these days it's a pretty hard sell to ask people to run resource-hungry software just to get adverts. Maybe Flash behaves better on other platforms - but OTOH, advertisers are going to lose revenue on iPad and iPhone customers if they don't move away from Flash at some point. For lots of these adverts I'd be tempted to say that an HTML5 video might even be more appropriate (!).

    Linux Weekly News (http://lwn.net/) which is by far my favourite "serious" geek news site (mainly because of their kernel page) has a nice model involving some adverts + subscription. They do have some adverts. They also delay some of their best content by a week if you're not a paying subscriber. Subscribers can categorise themselves according to an "honour system" to choose how much they pay if they want to subscribe. Apparently it works OK for them. I suspect this only really works for them because they produce extremely high-quality, specialist articles - you plain can't get some of this stuff elsewhere, so it's worth supporting them. A general-consumption geek news site is going to find that sort of thing a lot harder.

  • by E-Sabbath (42104) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:47AM (#31389104)

    The problem with this is, the advertisements themselves can not be trusted. Beyond the issue of the sound and animation, advertisements are a malware vector. I'm having a huge problem with 'Antispyware 2010' and its variants. One idiot claims he got his from Microsoft, because it says Microsoft on it. If they were less hazardous, I'd block them less. I turned off blocking for Project Wonderful and for Google's text ads, after all.

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:52AM (#31389170) Journal

    On a practical note, I make a point of never clicking on adverts. The only way I interact with an advert is to make a little mental note to reduce my opinion of the advertiser and to make it less likely for me to recommend them. It is more helpful for you if I block your adverts entirely.

    On an Internet's note, if you don't want something rendered as I please, don't send it via unauthenticated HTTP. As a reasonably technically competent magazine, you should know better.

    On a personal note, I owe you nothing. If you think your content is worth charging for, charge for it. If you provide your content, I will take it, just as I am happy with people taking the fruits of my labour as published on the Internet (and sharing it). Change your business model and try voluntary donations or subscriptions if you want, but don't ask me to be dishonest with your advertisers.

    On a general note, paid advertising is not a good way of raising awareness, and I will take no part in the cycle -- enough essays have been written about this already.

    • by lordandmaker (960504) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:05AM (#31389316) Homepage

      On a personal note, I owe you nothing. If you think your content is worth charging for, charge for it. If you provide your content, I will take it, just as I am happy with people taking the fruits of my labour as published on the Internet (and sharing it). Change your business model and try voluntary donations or subscriptions if you want, but don't ask me to be dishonest with your advertisers.

      On a personal note from me, I'd far rather all news sites be free to visit, and pay through ad revenue than have to subscribe to every news site I might want to view. Right now, wherever the 'good' news (or whatever) is, I can go and read it. If I had to subscribe to *every* news site in order to get it, I'd be restricted to a pretty limited set of sites. I'd much rather see well-placed and targeted ads than have to actually hand over money.

      I honestly don't see the problem with advertising in general. I browse with no ad blocker, and if a site's got daft ads that annoy me, I leave - as I would if anything else about it was crap. If a site doesn't irritate me with its ads and has whatever I was after, I'll stay. I've also, on occasion, clicked through ads for products that interest me.
      On slashdot, for example, I've never felt the need to check the 'disable advertising' box, since the ads just don't annoy me, and are occasionally useful.

  • by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:53AM (#31389176)

    Here we have yet another politician trying to manipulate us into seeing things his way with a fallacious argument. Why does anyone decide to use ad-blocking software in the first place? Do people set out with the express goal that "Heh, I'm gonna teach these fuckers a lesson"? I certainly didn't. Nope... I employed ad-blocking techniques because the ads became a truly hard-sell nightmare. Does anyone recall the meatspace jokes about car salesmen and "hard sell" tactics? That's what we're talking about here: digital ads that take a hard-sell approach.

    NOBODY likes the hard-sell tactics. That's why I, and most other people, employ RECIPROCAL tactics to block ads, because far too many are insanely hard-sell. Has it been simple greed and lack of self-restraint, no scruples, or did their business model just suck vacuum from the start? Is either cause my fault, my problem? Honestly... and they blame *us* for starting the whole contest? Ya got it ass backwards there, chum. Ad-blocking is here to stay BECAUSE your foolish greed arrived first.

    Honestly, it's already just too damned late; this ship had already sailed. Advertisers proved themselves to be consistently untrustworthy and self-centered, and we responded in kind. How do they intend to win back our trust? Oh, that's right: by blaming the bad behavior on *us* and claiming they always had our best interests at heart.

    Bullshit.

    Ya know what? I do believe I could survive well enough without their "content" if it just dried up and blew away. So find yourselves a revenue model, guys, one that actually works and that we can actually afford, or just go away. Ad-blocking is here to stay.

  • by s.d. (33767) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:56AM (#31389214)

    "If you're not willing to unblock our ads, we're fairly happy for you to not read the content we work very hard on, or to just stop visiting the site altogether." (in comment thread here [arstechnica.com])

    Ok, your terms are acceptable. See ya.

    • by Angst Badger (8636) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @11:04AM (#31390514)

      Ok, your terms are acceptable. See ya.

      Pretty much. Ars Technica's approach here is to ask people to do something they dislike so Ars can make money. What they're finding out is that a substantial number of people dislike the ads more than they like the content, and if push comes to shove, they're willing to give up the content along with the ads. If your business model consists of haranguing your users and telling them that if they don't do something unpleasant, they'll be sorry, you have become rather embarrassingly detached from reality and should probably look for something else to do. It's 2010, fer chrissakes. You'd think that by now people would have figured out that, at least on the web, popular does not equal profitable, and any business "plan" that involves attracting lots of non-paying spectators and making money from their mere presence is likely to crater.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:57AM (#31389226) Homepage

    Not blocking ads can be devastating to users' computers.

    Blocking ads is more than just a means to cut down on the annoying clutter on the screen. It is a security measure. And the fact is, "respect" is and should be a two-way street. Advertisers do not respect the audience. They will place as many ads "...as the market can bear" or will tolerate. They want attention and will use seizure-inducing colors and flashing to get it. Further, hidden among the many redirects, there are scripts and other exploits designed to turn a user's computer into a bot or worse.

    If advertisers used only the most respectful methods, the need for ad blockers would not exist and neither would the ad blockers themselves.

    As things stand, even on the most legitimate of sites, users are at risk due to the methods advertisers use when enlisting and deploying advertising campaigns.

    Lower my defenses so you can earn money from my eyes? Burn in hell!

    1. Pay respect to your audience
    2. Use methods that do not require "web client cooperation" and trust the sites hosting your ads. (Use scripts to inject text based ads into the articles originating from the site being read, not from external sites! There is a problem of trust that everyone needs to overcome.)

    I don't leave my windows and doors open to allow advertisers to walk into my home because OTHER people will enter as well.

  • by GospelHead821 (466923) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:58AM (#31389238)

    This sort of argument, as it pertains to piracy, is pretty darned common over at TechDirt, which I also read. I have a lot of sympathy for the creators of "boring" content, like news sites. At least a musician can do live performances and sell merchandise; an author can do lectures and book signings. People used to pay for content so we blame the content creators for having a bad business model and challenge them to come up with something that we'll buy. But we still want the content and we want the money-making good/service to be related to the content too. What is a news site supposed to do? How many people are going to buy an Ars Technica t-shirt? So they make money by selling ads to third parties but people find ways to avoid looking at the ads. Some people would argue that this is Ars Technica's problem and that if they can't find a service that people will buy, they "deserve" to go out of business. How can people have this kind of attitude and then wonder why the content that remains is spineless and pandering? It's because we've driven the real content creators away and all that's left are marketers with delusions of creativity.

  • by managerialslime (739286) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:15AM (#31389426) Journal

    With ads - without ads - what a waste of argument when geeks could instead debate an interesting arms race.

    The ad-blocking technologies work because the ads themselves are easily identified by the source web site as different from the main web page. A small change in architecture would allow ads to be funneled through the main presenting web page server and integrated with the main web site in real-time.

    Current versions of Ad-block plus and No-script would then be rendered useless for the purpose of ad-blocking.

    What the opposing side would then need to do is develop databases of ads, analyze screens and then repaint screens with blank space where the ads where.

    No wait! The ad presenters would then need to problematically vary every ad as appearing to be unique.

    No wait! The blockers could then use Bayesian logic to detect areas of presentation close enough to ads to be suppresses anyway.

    Whole new levels point-counter-point spy-vs.-spy program evolution!

    Whole new discussions, trolls, and flame-wars about the nuances of why one approach is SO MUCH BETTER at blocking (or overcoming blocking).

    That would be the slash.dot, SourceForge, and Mozilla Add-on communities I have come to know and love.

    Bwahahahahahahaahahh..........

  • by drewhk (1744562) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:18AM (#31389454)

    One serious problem with subscriptions and paywalls is that they effectively prevent linking content -- the most important feature of the web.

  • Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalhermit (113459) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:23AM (#31389506) Homepage

    Here's the main problem I have with enabling ads..

    Load NoScript in your browser.. Then load some random sites. Some of them are advertiser sites that are being blocked. Some of these advertiser sites (maybe disguised as a social networking site) can then set/read cookies from your browser. In their databases they can aggregate your browsing patterns.

    Here's where it's a problem...

    On one social networking site that I use I have many of my co-workers and business associates. In the past I've already had ads start showing up on non-related sites after browsing new products. For example, I don't have a pet but someone asked me to research some flea medication. Within moments after researching on one site, I started noticing flea powders being advertised on another site. Coincidence? What would you think?

    I don't want my personal life to start spilling into my public/work life. The problem with these ad sites is that I do not know what information they are storing about me. I don't know if their revenues one day start to decline so they start opening up my records to seedy advertisers. What if Facebook modifies their policy or some seedy advertiser exploits a bug in the Facebook API and starts posting on my home page? What if my co-workers start seeing "Holley 4-Barrel Carbs and the Men Who Love Them" on my page and get the wrong impression? What if LinuxJournal posts "Finger, mount, fsck and sleep" on my wall (and say I work at Microsoft)?

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:26AM (#31389554)
    /. has ads for passerbys and noobs. To support the community they let good users have a free pass, this doesn't cost them much and improves the site. Lastly they allow people to donate/sign up with money.

    They plan for and only expect a small chunk of people to sign up, but each signed up person pays for 1000 not signed up people. And the other bit of advertising is additional revenue without annoying anyone you really want on the site. Perfect! All sites should be run this way.

    That or have an additional source of revenue and leave the website as a loss in efforts to increase $ to the other products. Put website into 'advertising' as an expense rather than kidding yourself and thinking it is a revenue stream.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:01AM (#31389896) Homepage Journal

    its like tv ads. remember how the ad agencies in europe started to make funny/interesting ads so that viewers would at least watch them once, and tell them to other people ? its supposed to be like that. when an ad is funny, even if you havent seen it, you HEAR it from someone else. eventually you end up checking out the ads if the thing will come up or not, if you cant find it directly online. and then you watch it and laugh. you laugh, and the ad agency delivers their message. give and take, everyone is happy.

    the situation of online advertising is more like american advertising of old times - obnoxious, intrusive, repetitive, stupid (or at least takes viewers as stupid) and makeshift. noone wants that.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:13AM (#31389992) Homepage Journal

    Ars Technica, who is that? Oh yes, that's one of those annoying sites I don't read anymore, because they insist upon breaking every story into a dozen pages so they can push more ads.

    Hey Ars,
    here's some
    advice:

    (buy Brawndo capacitors - they got electrolytics, its what current craves!)
    (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next)

    Rather than
    making me
    search for
    a Print link

    (Buy BigJuggs Disks - you KNOW what you want to store!)
    (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next)

    So that I
    can read
    your site
    quickly

    (Play NoLife for free for the next three minutes- only $123.99!)
    (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next)

    and actually
    use ALL of
    my screen,
    instead of
    just the
    middle

    (Host your site on NotWorking Pollution!)
    (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next)

    why don't
    you put it
    on one page

    (Microsoft, we aren't sociopathic monopolists, we just act like one)
    (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next)

    And see
    if that
    works.
    (visit our sister site ICanHasContent!)
    (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next)

    (post us to Wastebook!)
    (Post us to Shovel!)
    (Post us to DidntReadIt!)
    (Post us to NoLife!)
    (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next)

  • simole solution ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:14AM (#31390008) Journal
    let most of the ad-supported sites die.

    Aw, no more ars technica? Not missed anyways.

    Aw, no more gmail? Tough shit - more than 95% of all the bogus registrations I see are from spammers using gmail.

    Aw, no more search? Aw - guess we'll have to depend on good old word-of-mouth, and specialized sites that also cache searchable content from elsewhere. And distributed search.

    Aw, no more podcasts and webinars? Nobody watches them anyways.

    It's going to happen anyway - ad-blocking/security agents with enough intelligence to remove all ads. By 2020 the big Internet advertisers are all dead and gone, because change is chaotic, not gradual. Find another model, or FOAD.

  • well then (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sohp (22984) <snewton@i[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @11:10AM (#31390566) Homepage

    1. Do not allow ads that popup, cover, dance, wiggle, make noise, or do anything other than sit there, NOT flash or any other plugin techonology.

    2. Do not let the ads overwhelm your design, either by placement or quantity.

    and the biggie...

    3. Never EVER let your business model depend on ad views, click-throughs, or anything else the ad buyers foist on you to "prove" their ad is seen. It's BS anyway. Magazines, TV, newspapers (remember them?), all survived just fine without advertisers ever having proof if anyone gave them business because of the ads. Coupons came along for reason, you know.

    Corollary to 3: Don't let ad revenue be your sole source of income. Consider a mix of strategies, including ads, but also including premium content and features for subscribers; peripheral merchandising (think hats and t-shirts); and various collateral deals.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sohp (22984)

      I forgot one: if your page loads are EVER hurt because the ad server is slow, FIX IT.

  • by Prototerm (762512) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @11:10AM (#31390568)

    Ok, here's a really radical idea: Maybe the problem isn't the ads, but that the ads are provided by third party hosting sites that are out of the control of the web site *using* those ads. If the web site hosted the ad file, then *they* would be held responsible for the singing, dancing gophers trying to sell you the latest in prophylactics, and ad-blockers would be less effective.

    But in general, the reason ad blocking exists, and will continue to exist is:
    1) animation (any kind)
    2) sound and/or music
    3) popups, pupunders, and any other sort of ad that *demands* your immediate attention like a little kid jumping up and down, waving his hands because he has to go to the bathroom.

    Advertisers need to understand: we *tolerate* you. But make yourself too annoying, and we *will* cut you off at the knees. This is true of Television (Tivo), Radio (iPod), Newspapers (yeah, just flip the page here), and now the Internet. Push us too far, and someone *will* develop ad blocking software that happily tells you we are viewing your ad, while at the same time dropping the whole thing in the trash. Please don't turn this into a war. It's one you can't win.

  • by T-Kir (597145) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @11:22AM (#31390696) Homepage

    I searched the comments here and noted that no-one has mentioned that Ars are owned by Condé Nast, a company with an estimated $4-5Billion+ annual revenue. They also own Wired and Reddit, let alone Vogue, GQ and numerous other publications.

    Why do I mention this? Context. If Ars was still an independent operator then I'd have more sympathy for their argument, and yes they still have numbers to maintain... but have you considered their sister magazines, take Vogue/GQ for example and think of page content vs pages of advertising. I watched "The September Issue" a few weeks ago and the thing that stuck in my mind was that that issue of Vogue had about 800 pages and only over a 100 pages were actual content, the rest were adverts. Fucking nuts! So yes, the argument of advertising driven content isn't going away and we'll see what happens should Mr Murdoch (who seems to want to own every content producer on the planet) try his pay-wall experiment.

    As for ad-blocking... I continue using it and am glad since I've seen the latest shit that people have to deal with, auto-loading videos, sound, fly-outs you can't shut, flash ads that grind your page to a halt, as well as the malware that floats around and even hits high profile sites... I want control of what opens up in my browser and the only ads I'd ever consider are Google textual ads... why? cos they don't piss me off. Advertising should be an enticement of a good deal, done in a thoughtful and pleasant manner.. Unfortunately the Advertising 'industry' (I also include SEO bastards too here) battles everyone to promise customers the Earth while pissing off the very people they're meant to attract, they go through periods of continual fads in order to push shit and pretend to everyone they are 'unique' in their services, yet do the same as everyone else. The arguments from most advertisers that people who use ad-blocking software need burning at the stake tells me a lot, in that they just don't 'get-it', a good advertiser/marketer will have spent time arguing both camps and understand the issues at hand (as well as the people they're meant to be advertising to) whereas the rest fail at being the clever people they advertise themselves to be.

    My suggestion to Ars, if it is that much of an issue then block your content from being shown 'full-stop' to anyone using ad-blocking software as you did in your experiment... then you only have to serve a minimal bandwidth using text page explaining why, fucking deal with it instead of whining like everyone else (i.e. News Corp, et al). The advertising industry won't die, but it will contract, change and evolve. But as a web browser I will not be dictated to that I have to have certain content forced down my throat, and I will control what I choose to see. There are multiple revenue streams possible, and I view Ars as producing higher quality content than a lot of other sites out there that I would be willing to pay for if I visited it enough (El Reg, BBC News, Slashdot and Fark tend to be my usual reads, and as a TV license holder I already pay for BBC News). Going back to context again, it would also be handy if Ars was to tell us their average percentage of userbase are that employ ad-blocking, which as a tech site I'd guess would be higher than a regular new site.

  • by Gonoff (88518) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @12:03PM (#31391154)

    There was a TV programme in the UK recently where some US 'expert' bemoaned how the internet is constantly selling us stuff and invading our privacy.

    I don't know if this is some difference in language between the USA and the UK, but advertising is not selling! Advertising is trying to start the process of me thinking about buying something.

    Bad, invasive and annoying browser advertising is actually a very useful guide about what not to buy.

  • by nixkuroi (569546) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @01:35PM (#31392224)

    I think people are intentionally missing the point.

    Someone makes a website.
    The time it took to make the site costs them money either directly or indirectly (they made it, or they paid someone to make it).
    Someone is paying to keep the web server online in bandwidth, hardware, content upkeep or software costs.

    The only way most people can make money from a website is to show ads. Ad companies can tell if their ads are displaying and pay less if their ads are blocked. The only way for people using this model to pay for content managers, bandwidth costs, faster servers, etc is through ad revenue. If site owners don't get paid, they can't pay for these things, so one or many of the things running the site don't work as well.

    If you can't afford reliable content managers (or you yourself have to work a real job because you don't get paid enough), the content suffers. If you can't afford a lot of bandwidth, the site gets slow from throttling it. If you can't afford up to date anti-virus (or a good ops guy to manage your firewall), your site is easier to hack and take down. If you can't afford a new nic card (or F5 for large sites with server farms), your site goes offline with hardware issues.

    If a large business owns a site and it doesn't make money, it simply takes it offline or invests less in the above mentioned maintenance costs until the value of the site is diminished to the point that it's better to read another site - or a magazine for that matter.

    The thing the guy is trying to say is that if you like the current state of the site, it takes money to maintain. If it doesn't make enough money, he doesn't have to work for free. If you don't care if the site goes down or degrades in some way, go ahead and block the ads. If you take a "I wasn't going to pay for it anyway, but will if it's free and those ads are like a tax on my sanity so I block them" stance, what he's saying is that you're reducing his ability to make money from his site and by extension, lowering the overall experience for everyone.

    I worked for a news site that made money with a per-view ad model and can tell you that it takes several million dollars a month to maintain a world class news site. The AP must be paid for content. Editors to moderate the AP must be paid. Production Operations guys, Test Operations guys, Developers, Release Engineers, Project Managers, Ad Operations, Managers for PM/Dev/Editorial/Test, Marketing, Sales...all have to be paid.

    It's always a delicate balancing act with your corporate overlords who want to make a lot of money (to pay the bills, and appease THEIR corporate overlords) - while trying not to alienate your user. Big invasive ads make more money per impression than little ones that few people see. That you don't see giant ads on a given site all the time is a testament to their restraint or ability to ward off the bottom-lining execs.

    I love free sites like Slashdot, but they're probably has high quality as they are because the majority of people let ads display. Sure, Slashdot would probably still be on the web if nobody viewed the ads, but it's unlikely to have a lot of the features that ad revenue paid to have developed.

    I'd be interested to hear what Slashdot would be like if they made no ad revenue from CmdrTaco. Would they have been bought up by their corporate overlords? What would that have meant if they hadn't?

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