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Game Site Wonders 'What Next?' When 50% of Users Block Ads 978

6 writes "Destructoid, one of the few remaining bastions of independent game journalism online, wonders what to do now that nearly 50% of their users run ad-blockers."
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Game Site Wonders 'What Next?' When 50% of Users Block Ads

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:14AM (#43129987)

    Swallow it.

  • by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:14AM (#43129989)
    Then i realized exactly that without ads 3/4 of the internet would not exist. Now i simply manually block ads with my hosts file only when they are particularly annoying (autoplaying videos? Whose great idea was it?).
  • i don't know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:14AM (#43129991)

    don't use advertising as a business model?

  • Subscription model (Score:2, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:18AM (#43130001) Homepage Journal

    If the number of the users is not growing itself (which is not obvious from TFA) but only the percentage of users that use ad-blockers is growing, then don't you have to admit at some point that you have to change the business model and possibly try to charge a subscription fee? But in order to retain clients then you have to provide them with something actually tangible for their money. I have never heard of their site (I basically don't play video games, so I don't know much about the site), but I suppose they don't send out physical magazine or anything like that, it's a pure on-line business. But they have to figure out either how to go around the ad-blocking software or they have to figure out another way to get revenue, and maybe they should offer a subscription and bundle something extra with it (like an actual physical copy of their articles if anybody is interested)?

    However I suspect that many sites facing the same problem will just shut down, since their model is purely ad based and technologically they can't really win, so it's their business model that will have to adapt or die out.

  • ad networks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:20AM (#43130015)

    Pretty much the answer is to embed ads in the site code itself, rather than simply link to some dodgy advertising company's site.

    I recall WebhostingTalk site had a pdf describing their site that they would use for potential advertisers, you paid your money and supplied some ads in the required formats and they'd put them in their site themselves. Nowadays, 'ads' are just a couple of clicks to the most annoying syndicated rubbish (along with all the tracking cookies) that have nothing to do with the site you're looking at, except an easy way to attract money.

    So the solution for this site is simply to work at getting the advertisers and give up the ad networks.

  • by DCFC ( 933633 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:22AM (#43130019)

    Readers block your ads because they are crap.

    Your advertisers only want to reach people that are useful to them.
    Cross the two.
    Facebook et al try to steal personal data, why not negotiate with users ?
    Treat them like adults, say “you are going to get one ad per 5 page views, so why not tell us what sort of ad you want ?”. I care about storage, you probably don’t, so why not honestly ask the readers ? You’d have a higher quality product to sell and readers would be bugged less.

    Also, make a virtue about only having non-irritating ads and be honest that having the ad pays for the content, so that people ad your site to their exception list.

    The thing I hate about most ads is that their server slows down your page load, that's fixable, and would cause a lot less use of blockers.

  • It's not the ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <marc,paradise&gmail,com> on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:22AM (#43130023) Homepage Journal

    For the most part it's not the ads. If they're not blinking or obnoxious I can live with them.

    It's the tracking intrinsic to the ads that are the problem.

    Use a service that allows you to host the ads on your own servers, so that I know the only person collecting my data is the site that I'm visiting.

  • by vidarlo ( 134906 ) <vidarlo@bitsex.net> on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:23AM (#43130025) Homepage
    Ad blocking came about as a reaction on the huge multimegabyte flash ads with sound and moving images - at least for my part. They were slow to download on 56k modem, and waste of space. Then, google started tracking me across sites using google ads, and I don't particularly want them to track my browsing habits. So I blocked that too. But how much is lost to blocked ads? Did the people blocking ads click ads before blocking was common? I did certainly not. Also, a lot of the ads on the web is quite US-centric, and of less interest to me as a european. Is this really a loss? I'm not so sure. Maybe a clean advertising standard, with text ads and as little tracking as possible would be a better way to go?
  • by louic ( 1841824 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:26AM (#43130045)
    I don't see the problem. Actually, I would be happy to see all those ad-supported websites disappear (especially those that make you click through 10 pages to read a single article). If the internet were to become a place where enthusiasts write their weblogs, scientists and hobbyists share results, and some really good content that is worth paying for hides behind paywalls, I do not have a problem with that at all. In fact, it would be a brilliant improvement!
  • by ebonum ( 830686 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:35AM (#43130075)

    Mod up parent.

    It's being tracked that freaks techies out. Not the ads.

  • by Flammon ( 4726 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:35AM (#43130079) Homepage Journal

    Ads is a very expensive way to pay for content. Your cost of living is 9% to 12% higher because of Marketing. I think that if we took the money spent on ads and gave it to content creators instead, we would have more and better quality content. As an added bonus, no annoying ads that slow everything down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:37AM (#43130091)

    No, readers block ads because they're capable of researching what they want on their own and don't want more crap foisted on them.

    There is no such thing as a good advert to me. Adverts are inherently daft.

  • Re:i don't know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:40AM (#43130109)

    don't use advertising as a business model?

    Care to propose an alternative? For how many of the sites you visited today have you paid a subscription? I'm sure your /. subscription is paid up, and you're just too lazy to log in

  • by spxZA ( 996757 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:44AM (#43130129)
    What you are describing is a website behind a paywall. We don't all want that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:46AM (#43130145)

    The Internet was ticking along very nicely before it was plagued with ads. If a few sites die, so what, they're only glorified bloggers and aggregations replication stuff from elsewhere under the guise of "reporting".

    If the adverts weren't so obnoxious and stealing bandwidth, people wouldn't worry too much about them. Fix the ads, or shut up shop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:49AM (#43130163)

    What you are describing is a website behind a paywall. We don't all want that.

    We don't all want ads either. Why do the ones who want ads instead of paywalls get to dictate the rules?

  • Why I block ads (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LihTox ( 754597 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:53AM (#43130185)

    I refuse to read ads. I refuse to click on ads. People trying to manipulate me piss me off, and now I'm reading your site and I'm pissed off. Ads are computer viruses for the mind (trying to rewrite the software to their own ends); if a website came to me and said "Don't install antivirus software because malware pays for our bandwidth" I would laugh in their faces and I hope you would too.

    I'd be happy to load the ads if I didn't have to look at them. Perhaps I could have a special sandboxed browser where you type in all of your favorite sites, and it loads them up with the ads in the background every day (at 3am when I don't care about bandwidth).

    But the real sin to advertisers isn't blocking the ads, it's ignoring them, right?

  • by theduk3 ( 2598409 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:54AM (#43130187)
    Where do your 9-12 % come from? Link please
  • Re:i don't know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:05AM (#43130229)

    I have a simple and good solution. Allow visitors to pay some (reasonably small) sum to get rid of advertisements. You would send $5 via PayPal to disable advertisements for 6-12 months, something like that.

    The website gets its funding and users get rid of advertisements. Maybe throw in some little extra goodies to subscribers.

  • Re:i don't know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:10AM (#43130241) Homepage Journal

    don't use advertising as a business model?

    Care to propose an alternative? For how many of the sites you visited today have you paid a subscription? I'm sure your /. subscription is paid up, and you're just too lazy to log in

    It's not for us to come up with an alternate. YOU are the one with the failed business model. You fix it yourself.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:10AM (#43130243)
    This is the way I am looking at it:

    For many sites, there is a significant circle-jerk between the users and the advertising. The site would not exist without the advertising paying for it, AND the site also would not exist if the users werent generating content for the site. You are using an example of this right now, good old slashdot.

    In those cases, if a significant number of users turn to ad blocking then eventually they cut their own throats and the site will go away. Many forums and services on the internet are these circle-jerks.

    The thing about advertising is that its essentially a pay-per-view model, a model that is ultimately one of the fairest models that could be crafted. Subscription models tend to trend toward a reduction of alternatives, towards market consolidation, and the more casual a user you are the more you end up paying per view.

    Anyways, if this story is indeed about a site that has ended up with 50% of its users running ad blockers then there is a pretty good chance that the particular advertising they were doing was particularly annoying (possibly lots of malware delivered too.)
  • by JustOK ( 667959 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:11AM (#43130249) Journal

    By nicely you mean very little content compared to today. By nicely you mean not able to make money.
    It's the obnoxious, intrusive and privacy-stealing ads that are the problem.

  • Re:i don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spxZA ( 996757 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:13AM (#43130255)
    Newspapers rely on advertising as their main source of incoming. The few dollars you pay for a copy are for distribution costs. That being said, there has been a massive struggle to move that business model as-is onto the internet, for various reasons, including people running adblockers and a general lack of understanding of this new medium. As webmasters become more desperate for advertising sales, they come up with new (annoying) ideas to ensure visibility - popups, popunders, popins, and forced ads before videos. All of these just cause frustration on both sides and users use ad blockers, or just learn to ignore them. There's been a big topic of relevance. Users respond better to adverts that are more relevant to them. I call shenanigans on this. This is only partially true. If I am browsing a site related to financial markets, I am not interesting in Hobby King targeting an advert of a part that I looked at on their site a few days prior. My mindset while viewing this site is that of business, not play. In the same vein, Destructoid has the following adverts on their home page (probably targeted to me): Social Media Marketing from Vertical Response, Start your own gaming business from Game Wars, The frequent Download/Play belonging to some cellphone subscription service, Linode (even though I am a linode customer), Google Apps for Business, A conference for Data Center World. Maybe some of these are targeted to me, but while I am browsing a gaming site, I don't care about anything else that is not related to gaming. My point here is, relevance is true, but target something at me that is relevant to me AND relevant to what I am currently doing. I don't want to have to think about or reminded about work while I am on Destructoid. Back in the day before the rise of these ad delivery networks, people used to put adverts up on their site manually. And only adverts that were relevant to them and their audience. Nowadays, these ad networks do allow you to customize the type of adverts that appear on your site. It seems that this is not being done, and webmasters are using the shotgun approach, allowing any type of advert to be targeted to their users. This is just plain laziness. Also, where is the sponsorship that we see everywhere else? Companies pay a premium to sponsor a TV show (blah blah brought to you buy blah blah). This helps both the advertiser target a specific audience and the content provider pay for the content. If Destructoid want to continue to rely on advertising for their income (and please do), they need to do some serious work on making sure that the advertisers on their site are relevant to themselves and their users. Content producers off-line have very close relationships with their advertisers. Strike up a deal with Razer or EA to do some skinning just before a product launch. I'm not suggesting "selling out", but rather realize that you are running a business selling content to us. We buy it by looking at your adverts. If we don't like your adverts, we will block them. If we don't like your content, we won't visit your site. It is up to you to connect us with your advertisers via your content.
  • by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:13AM (#43130261) Homepage

    Flawed how? I will gladly see ads in order to get free access to a site.

  • by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:14AM (#43130271) Homepage

    No, people block your ads because somebody else had annoying ads that made them install an adblocker that blocks everything, no matter what. Good luck dealing with that.

    If you are an honest person, then here's how you deal with annoying ads: Stop going to that site.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:17AM (#43130289)

    Most of the websites on Internet are funded using advertisements.

    So what? Most Dutch investments in 1636 were in tulips. They didn't have a god-given right to make money, either.

  • I'm not him but I'll be happy to list why its fucked up..1.- A VERY large portion of the viruses out there end up through infected ads, block ads? Virus infections drop off the map. 2.- Destructoid does NOT sere the ads, like everybody else that pass it off to third parties. See #1 as to why that is a problem, it lets you pass the buck and you end up giving your users infections. 3.- The advertisers have gone from simple txt and jpgs to shitting out ads that take over the sound and maxes out the volume, its like inviting someone into your home and on the second or third visit they scream in your face..would you invite them back? 4.- They have taken ad revenues to the extreme, an article that would be 3 paragraphs is now shit all over a dozen pages...why should I care about you when you are trying to milk me for more revenue while making things worse for me?

    I'll be happy to unblock a site if they ask nicely...IF they ONLY use txt ads, no risky Flash or Java ads, NO taking over my speakers, NO blasting commercials..they do that? I have NO problem with unblocking. The problem is all these sites are frankly lazy bastards that just want to make money without having to do the work so they just sell their ad space to any company that offers them cash without giving a fuck if its ads are rude, if they assault our senses, hell they don't even seem to give a fuck if they end up serving malware to their users, just as long as they get paid. Well I have to clean up their messes so fuck them, I install adblock as SOP to ALL PCs that come through my door.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:19AM (#43130313) Homepage Journal

    I know what you are saying, but you are not part of their revenue stream and so when the try to figure out how to stay afloat they will think much less of what to do about clients like you rather than about people who would subscribe or somehow support their model.

    It's really not magic, they are not USA government, they cannot print dollars and wait for the inevitable inflation to destroy the currency, they have to have revenue, they have to cover their expenses and they have to have some profit (otherwise there is no incentive for the investment to be tied up in that business). So the question for them is how to design a business model that would give them that revenue and profit.

    It is possible that they could do it by offering some material for free (and people that would otherwise completely ignore their site would read some of their material, this way at least their brand would be more recognised) and some material would only be offered to the subscribers (like I said, a site can offer a printed version of the magazine or maybe it can have some other merchandise).

    Maybe they can have ads that are part of the on-line material, embedded in such a way that for an ad-blocker it would be impossible to distinguish that there is an ad within the material.

    It's possible to have an article with an ad on it that is not text for example, but that is an image. So they could convert some text into an image, embed some ads into that image and serve that to people who otherwise wouldn't read their site if it was behind a pay wall.

    It's possible to do all sorts of things, like use Flash to serve text mixed with ads (I would not read articles that way, but who knows, make it interesting enough material and I may once in a while).

    It's possible to offer more to people who subscribe. Again, as I said, from TFA it is not clear whether their entire user base stays the same and more and more people are using ad-blockers or whether their user base is growing and the percentage of ad-blocking users is growing faster. But if their user base is growing, then maybe they don't really have as much of a problem.

    OTOH it is also possible that many of these sites will have to consolidate one day and have some form of pay wall and some material without it, but they would have to have one large site with many sites behind them.

    This is the cable model, where you get dozens of channels bundled together while in reality you are only interested in 3 of them, but you are paying a subscription fee basically. But if they did this, I would suggest not charging a flat fee but actually allowing people to pick their poison and only pay for the part they are interested in, while being able to read some free material from other parts, so at least they'd know what else is out there.

  • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:20AM (#43130321)

    Also known as the "micro-transactions aren't micro" problem.

  • by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:23AM (#43130343) Homepage Journal

    Advertisers will eventually pay less or stop paying entirely when nobody inevitably buys their products. If they pay an agency, then the agency will reduce the payout or block the site entirely in favor of the higher performing sites. Nobody seems to consider that branding alone on the internet is not where the money comes from. Rich leads that end up buying products or signing up for content is normally the desired outcome of the advertiser. Take that away from them and they stop paying. Lose lose.

    I don't think the cause and effect there is valid.

    Like a lot of spam, the crime is occurring where the seller of spam services misleads the buyer about what they are getting ("lots of traffic!*" *nevermind that it's not traffic you want") the ad agencies and Google and others are convincing businesses of smaller and smaller means "you can get rich using the internet"

    So there's always some other sucker to feed money into the ad-display industry that thinks something good will happen if they pay.

    The ones whining, are the sites that get rich on the ad-display scam residuals coming through.

    I have found, that if a small site takes the time to run ads for products they hand pick (and are also therefore hard to block because they run from the same URL) that the product is often worth looking at... after all, the site owner and I both thought the subject was interesting, now we have some other interesting thing in common.

    I aggressively use all types of ad-blockers, and just today started a quest for a way to block all the external probes Facebook has placed everywhere. I am not going to stop, ever.

    Find a new business model or die. That's all there is to it. My time, bandwidth and clicks are not some resource for some self-entitled internet communist to demand to fund his second pool at his summer house. The sites I have seen that are complaining about ad blockers are all run by guys who got rich by their ads.

    Fark, for example both added tons more ads, sold out to the point that the rules were drastically changed to appease advertisers, and the guy that runs it has enough cash to go running all over to "meet up" with fans and quit his main job a while back. Now the site whines about end users using an ad blocker. Guess what, a fewer ads, less pandering to uptight nancies and more people would be ignoring the ads (and thus, letting them display).

    I might sign up, and turn off ad blockers if I got some of the revenue in return. But not if it's "because I can give you content". Sorry, someone else will do it just as well.

  • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:30AM (#43130375)

    Well, if they want me to view ads, it's very easy.
    1. Host them your self you lazy ass fucktards! There is nothing more frustrating for users than waiting some 3-5 seconds for some stupid adserver to respond with whatever crap they want to sell. Also, adnetworks are prime system for spreading malware, vet your friggin ads, host them and serve them proper.
    2. No flash. No moving about. No Sound.

    Do that and you wont be blocked (by me).

  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:53AM (#43130445)
    I am not opposed to advertising on principle, but marketroids have acquired an unhappy disposition to assume that every vacant space visible to the human eye is fair game for intrusive ads. Ditto, any quiet instant is fair game for filling with obnoxious "BUY!BUY!BUY!" noises (which is why my sound-card is always muted by default).

    The internet was never originally constructed for the convenience of advertisers, and it is beyond arrogance for them to assume that it is acceptable to swamp the user's bandwidth (which in many cases comes at a premium price) with inane drivel and referrals to all of their scaly mates in the industry.

    Non-intrusive text advertising is fine (and in my case, occasionally even effective), but overly heavy-handed marketing drives me away from websites. I make sure of this by adding them to my hosts file.

    If this means I miss out on some content, then so be it. Everybody loses.
  • by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:03AM (#43130497)

    It's not the customer's job to figure out how to keep businesses alive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:04AM (#43130505)

    Well that's all fine, except that it doesn't mate with the other realities of advertising that those sites have to deal with. The penny per click they get on a clearly marked text ad, out of every 4 trillion impressions, which come from 8 trillion page views, doesn't pay the bills. Now make it opt-in for ads, strictly text only links, reduce the page count and impressions, etc, and they're really screwed.

    This is why pay walls are becoming more popular. People assume that any time they can't have 100% of what they want for free, that someone else must be being too greedy. That's bullshit.

    So since you're never going to get what you want, the way you describe it, and they're not going to survive doing what they're doing, what's the alternative? That's a harder question to answer.

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:09AM (#43130553) Journal
    DO me a favor. Go out, start a business, don't advertise, let us know how long you stay in business.
  • by samkass ( 174571 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:11AM (#43130573) Homepage Journal

    Before Penny Arcade removed ads, they handled them rather well. They sold the ads in-house, only advertised products that they themselves approved of, and the ads were all either still images or minimal animation (no sound, no "shaking", no "one trick to lose weight"). I personally don't use an ad blocker because I believe in paying for what I use, and just stop visiting the obnoxious sites. I'm not sure Destructoid would like my solution either.

  • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:11AM (#43130577)

    It seemed to work just fine before everyone tried to commercialize things. The quote is "If you build it, they will come" not "If you build it, you will make money"

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:12AM (#43130579) Journal
    You really shouldn't be surprised about that. "Why should I pay if I can have it for free?" is the thinking of the day, and legality, ethics, and morals don't even enter into the thinking. If morals and ethics do enter into the thinking, it is immoral and/or unethical to want to make money off your work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:12AM (#43130585)

    | I'll be happy to unblock a site if they ask nicely...IF they ONLY use txt ads, no risky Flash or Java ads,...

    Something that never gets mentioned about this is that honest ads never were blocked. An ad on the webpage, loaded from the same domain, will rarely be blocked. What is being blocked is sending people to Doubleclick (yes, people, not "users") and a half dozen other ad companies, without permission, allowing those companies to use their ads as spyware web beacons and to set cookies. The current advertising "norm" for webpages goes against the original intentions in the design of the Internet.

    I use a HOSTS file and also block 3rd-party images. Further, I use userContent.css in Mozilla browsers to block web beacon images. But I don't block ads in the webpage. Some webmasters will say they can't make enough money with banner ads. Maybe so. But that does not justify sneaky spyware tactics that essentially hijack the browser.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:22AM (#43130643)

    Yes, but it's like the old tale of wind and sun competing who gets the guy to take off his jacket. Wind blew and blew and all that accomplished was him to tighten his grasp on the jacket, sun instead shined and the guy took off the jacket voluntarily.

    If you try to FORCE me to do something, expect me to resist. Give me what I want and you may expect me to cooperate.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:26AM (#43130675)

    There is nothing dishonest about using an ad-blocker. There's no law that says you have to download the ads attached to a web page. There's nothing on the supposed tablets of stone that Moses brought off the mountain. There's no value system anywhere that says you should.

    That the advertisers and the web site owner want you to, doesn't make it dishonest not to.

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:29AM (#43130699)

    People want better ads? No. People do not want ads, But if they are forced to chooses between two evils, they will chooses the less evil one.
    In this case that is better ads.
    Sure, sometimes the ads are better then the content (Superbowl anybody?) but that does not mean I want to watch ads all the time.
    Soa Paulo in Brazil does not have any ads anymore [adbusters.org].
    I would be happy if all cities in the world would follow their example.

    Banksy [wordpress.com] has a nice idea about it:
    People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you're not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

    You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

    Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

    You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don't owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs.

  • by Captain Hook ( 923766 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:35AM (#43130723)
    It gets attention, but the wrong sort, overly obnoxious ads create a negative association to both the product being advertised and website hosting the ad.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:40AM (#43130755)

    Ads get more and more obnoxious as time goes on. I guess the train of thought is that people don't click ads because they didn't see them, so they have to be more intrusive to get seen and then people will click.

    Bzzzzt. Sorry, wrong, but thanks for playing (I'd even thank you more if you stopped playing).

    The reason is a very different one: You're hawking a product nobody wants. The way I see it, to get me to click on an ad, getting me to notice it is only the first step out of many. There are so many others, and the most important two are simply that

    - I have to have some use for your product
    - I have to want to do business with you

    Now, please tell me why I should even consider doing business with you if you yell in my face. Would you? Be honest. If I came up to you and jumped up and down in front of you while you're trying to have a conversation with your friend or read something that interests you, would you even listen to me when I yelled into your ear and generally be as obnoxious as I can be? Most likely you'll grab me and throw me into the next garbage bin you find. And that's, essentially, what the people using ad blocking on your ads do: They toss your ads into the garbage. Without even looking at them. They may even be for a product they'd be at the very least mildly interested in, but presented in THAT manner? I wouldn't do business with you if you were the last person on earth offering this product.

    The only thing I'd ever want from you is to be left alone.

    For the longest time I had no ad blocker running. What I did instead was to automatically close every pop up that started to load, without even looking what it was about. It was a popup, it was obnoxious, I didn't even WANT to know what it was about.

    Lately, YouTube started to insert ad clips before giving me the clip I want to see. What does this accomplish? The same. You sit there with your mouse hovering over "wait 5 seconds to skip ad", and as soon as "skip ad" is offered, you click. I've probably seen the first 5 seconds of a few ads by now, and I even have no idea what those ads were for. Who thought it would be a bright idea to do that? There's this user who wants to see a clip. And he wants to see it NOW because, well, when he types his search string into YouTube and hits go, he wants to see it. No matter how interesting your ad could be, this is NOT the time this user will watch it. He wants to see his clip. Unless, maybe, he has the attention span of a gold fish and gets easily distracted by shiny things, but then, chances are that he will have forgotten about your ad by the time his clip finishes, so what's the point?

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:43AM (#43130775)

    What really got me to first block Flash, later block all ads is a news paper that I regular visits and that posts several bright coloured and flashing ads right next to the artical that I'm trying to read.

    It's impossible to ignore them. That's of course the purpose of the designer, but it's so bad that I could just not read the article. Moving my browser to have them fall off-screen is a solution, but it's still irritating.

    Now I have Flashblock and ABP. I know many web sites make money by showing me ads, but they're simply too distracting. I don't mind a static image. Or a simple text ad, Google style (and when searching for commercial stuff on Google I will unlock them, as the ads tend to give more useful results than the search results).

    ABP is simply on for all sites. Maybe there are some that display those acceptable ads, I'm not going to try, sorry about that. Also not going to manually block sites one by one when I run into one with obnoxious ads.

    Actually only one site where I see the ads, and that's becuase they serve them by themselves so they're not filtered. That is a trade site, where the ads are from their members, so very appropriate. They sometimes flash (animated GIF) but that's all. And with the limited size, it's not really bothering me. That is advertising that makes sense.

  • Re:i don't know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AcidPenguin9873 ( 911493 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:44AM (#43130779)

    Christ. In this particular story, the comments are going to be discussing alternatives, because that's pretty much what the article asks about. If you don't want to talk about alternatives, and instead want to just sit around until someone else invents them, why on Earth would you bother reading the comment section of this particular article? Just to make snarky posts and degrade the overall quality of the discussion?

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:54AM (#43130845)

    As someone who built and maintained a community with 100k users for over a dozen years and did so without charging a dime for the significant services it offered nor plastered it with ads, my view is that people seeking to make money on the internet with advertising and various SEO bullshit are on-par with people who try to get rich with snail-mail chain-letter schemes.

    I pay for a lot of content online. I hate advertising. If the threat is that all the commercial enterprises are going to vanish from the internet and we're going to end up back in a time when the internet was for enthusiasts generating and trading information and content among each other without having to monetize absolutely every fucking page load, then by all means -- I'm on board.

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tmsNO@SPAMinfamous.net> on Sunday March 10, 2013 @11:09AM (#43130921) Homepage

    The penny per click they get on a clearly marked text ad, out of every 4 trillion impressions, which come from 8 trillion page views, doesn't pay the bills.

    The price for common things is low. The price for rare things is high.

    Make ads rare. And make them meaningful, a deliberate and knowing sponsorship relationship between publisher and advertiser rather than space for rent to the highest bidder..

    And for cryin' out loud, serve them from your own server. No cross-site ad networks spying on us.

    I'm still not going to click on them, because when I'm reading your site I'm not shopping, I'm reading.

  • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @11:10AM (#43130931) Homepage

    So what? Most Dutch investments in 1636 were in tulips. They didn't have a god-given right to make money, either.

    Well, that's true- and taken at its absolutely literal face value, the story as summarised (and discussion) is simply about funding a particular website business.

    However, the vast majority of readers will clearly understand that the *actual* issue being implied was how one can fund reputable and quality journalism online. *That* is the issue that concerns us- Demonoid's business model is a means to an end, and it's the "end" result *we* enjoy. But clearly the end requires a means, and that's why Demonoid's funding is *our* problem if we enjoy and/or respect what they are producing.

    This doesn't mean that advertising is the only solution, and indeed it could be argued that it's an inefficient and overly intrusive method of funding (both in terms of trying to grab attention and in terms of potential corporate interference). Problem is that no obvious alternatives have come up yet- micropayments... what happened to them? Voluntary subscriptions and donations... well, sorry, but generally *very* few people do that. Paid subscriptions? Might work for some sites (e.g. Financial Times), but not all, and it restricts access, relying on a few higher-paying users than many low-paying users, so it's a lose-lose. (I'd rather access lots of sites that made small amounts of money from lots of users than a few sites that made more money from fewer users- the question is, how do we do that without advertising.... "microsubscriptions" perhaps? The latter still doesn't cover occasional one-off visits to sites that have specific useful info or a story I might want to read, but don't plan on visiting regularly... so we're back to the start).

    Do we need to have paid journalism and content? Some would argue that we can go back to the early days of the web, when most content was user-created and non-commercial... but believe me, the fact that it was all new and exciting then (and a long time ago) obscures the fact that if you went back in time you'd realise there was far, *far* less content available online than there is today. Of course, there are more people online, and Wikipedia is a good model for donation-funded, user-written content. But could that exist without the support of the rest of the web, and would the model work if *every* website expected to be funded and driven in that way? I'm not convinced.

    Anyway, one isn't obliged to care. One could say that if Demonoid are offering free ad-funded content, and we can see it without viewing the ads that's their problem, and we'll take advantage of it... well, while it lasts. It's a legitimate response... provided you accept that it cuts both ways- you (or anyone else) have no god-given right to expect quality content, and if one doesn't care about the means (or providing an alternative to it), then you're waived your moral right to complain when the good sites go under and there is either little content, or the content that remains is is utterly vapid, worthless, contemptible corporate-sponsored garbage.

    And believe me, that *is* the true issue that is- or should be- being discussed here.

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tmsNO@SPAMinfamous.net> on Sunday March 10, 2013 @11:12AM (#43130949) Homepage

    And that same marketing help you to get information about competing products,

    Advertising is disinformation.

    You sound like you must work in the field. Please follow Bill Hicks's advice. [youtube.com] Thank you, have a nice day.

  • by dzfoo ( 772245 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @11:27AM (#43131021)

    However, free is not sustainable for most sites and users show a distinct disinclination to pay for content.

    That is not necessarily true. Users show a distinct disinclination to pay for crappy or mediocre content. Since the birth of capitalism, people have paid for stuff. Everybody buys stuff.

    The problem is that some people believe that the Internet changed all that, as if it was some sort of magical entity that made content free.

    The WWW started with all sorts of free content, because it was provided by enthusiasts and academics, who didn't mind giving it away for free.

    And then it all went to hell in a hand-basket when some wanted to maintain the same level of traffic and engagement in the mass market while making money out of it.

    Yes, that's the problem: greed. Every - Single - Site - built to make money follows the same exact formula: Make content, give it away for free, build a very large audience, and then--just when you think you've captured them irrevocably--make money out of them. Well, guess what, you've just accustomed your viewers to free content. You have turned them into "freetards" that feel entitled to it all.

    Yes, it's the "Web 2.0" model: Let's build a site, start free, get lots and lots of hits, and... sell it to Facebook or Google. Ka-ching!

    Oh, that's not working? How do we keep the lights on? Ads to the rescue! It's not about the content or the viewers anymore.

    Making your business model depend on advertisements shifts the focus of your enterprise absolutely. As even Penny-Arcade mentioned when they changed their model, a lot of their creative and business effort goes into satisfying metrics that come from their actual customers: the advertisers. The viewers are just there to consume the advertisements and keep the coin rolling in.

    Of course, you can find the honest enterprise that just got trapped by following the trends. That seems to be the case with Destructoid, whereas they built their site to depend on advertisements because, well, because "that's how everybody does it and there's no other way."

    If you adopt a model that is tangentially related to your viewers, and at times actively hostile to them, is it any surprise that they will get pissed when you engage in an arms race against their standard behaviour? How dare you take umbrage at their distaste for something that is not germane to the experience of visiting your site?

    On the other hand, begging to be white-listed is also distasteful. Guess what? If every "free," advertisement-supported site were to die tomorrow, the Internet will survive. People will just find something else to do. And eventually, someone may hit upon a model that is actually sustainable. It'll probably involve some sort of subscription or direct payment.

    I, like most ad-blockers, would not mind at all paying for content. As a matter of fact, I do subscribe to some web sites and e-magazines. I don't pay for every single article I casually visit when I click on a link; and I just click on the link because it's there. I don't need it. I don't have to have it. And when I hit a paywall or something else that alienates me, I consider hard what's it worth to me. "Oh, it's just a link to an article in the WSJ about such-and-such, is it really that important for me to pay to read it?" Probably not.

    Sometimes it is. I've ended up purchasing issues of the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal for a single article.

    So when all this sites band together and clamour "you're breaking the Internet! your adblock is killing the Internet!" I say, NO. We're just breaking the stupid, unsustainable cycle of web sites trying to make money by every other way except working for their readers.


  • by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @11:49AM (#43131155)

    Make ads rare. And make them meaningful

    What's funny is this is what Facebook mastered, and everyone seems to hate them for it. They can make huge revenues with relatively few advertisements because they have amazingly great targeting.

    It's simple, really. People pay more for ads that work. One way you do that is by having your ads shown only to the right people in the first place. That targeting only works through an engine that knows things about you... like Facebook.

    It's also why Facebook hasn't and won't sell off their user data. Their exclusive access to that data is their big competitive advantage, the crown jewels, and it's something Google desperately wants.

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:08PM (#43131283)

    You have it exactly right. If you absolutely want to be sure that your ads are being served to most of your customers, host them yourself and don't make them so intrusive that it is worth some else's time to parse and block them from your site.

  • by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:25PM (#43131391)
    do you think the employees of the site shouldn't get paid? or shouldn't have aspirations for themselves or their families? maybe you think they should take a vow of poverty to provide you free content that you read when you should be working.
  • by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:51PM (#43131565)
    no, but it's the customer's concern if their favorite websites go out of business. Liked that offbeat coffeeshop on the corner? too bad, they went under and became a starbucks. enjoy your mocha-soy-double-room-half-calf-frappuchino.
  • by maztuhblastah ( 745586 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:52PM (#43131571) Journal

    By nicely you mean very little content compared to today. By nicely you mean not able to make money.
    It's the obnoxious, intrusive and privacy-stealing ads that are the problem.

    That's part of the problem yes.

    The other part of the problem is that people such as yourself see "not able to make money" as part of the "problem" with the pre-hyper-commercialized web.

    Not everything needs to be squeezed until it makes a buck, but as long as people keep seeing everything in the world with fucking dollar signs in their eyes the problem will continue.

    Was part of the "problem" with gas handle pumps that they didn't have space for another ad? 'cause we solved that problem.

    How about airliner tray tables? They couldn't make money, but we sure addressed that one.

    And long stretches of road with greenery and shit visible? The issue there was it just wasn't making money! But don't worry, we fixed it.

    Advertising is societal corrosion. It eats away at our experiences, it reshapes our thoughts, it homogenizes and neuters our culture, and it's all because people such as yourself see "not making any money" as an inherent problem with all sorts of aspects of our lives.

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:00PM (#43131623)

    That's pretty awful, isn't it? You whore yourself to advertisers, who may or may not exploit vulnerabilities in a person's system, but always make using your site more unpleasant. That doesn't work, so you set up a pay wall. And, nobody pays to see what you've got behind the paywall.

    I guess that spells bankruptcy for you, huh?

    Well, tough shit. You should have thought things over long ago. Offer a product that people really want, and offer it for a reasonable price. You failed to offer a reasonably priced product that people want? Well - screw you - go hungry. No one gives a small damn about you. You tried to milk the cash cow, but you never even warmed your hands up before grabbing hold of the cow's teats. When she kicks you in the head, don't expect any sympathy from anyone at all.

    Bankruptcy, dude. Now, kindly fuck off and die.

    Ads targeted to your public don't always make your site more unpleasant. Suppose you're a local newspaper's online site. People read it to know what's going on in their town. If there's an ad on the page that advertises that the local nursery is having a Mother's day sale on petunias or the bar on Main St. is having a St. Patrick's day event. I don't think that bothers anyone. What bothers people is when the ad is not germaine to the reading public, or is too intrusive, for instance with animations or sounds or excessively large text or obnoxious pictures.

    While we're on Slashdot, let's talk Slashdot. It's ad-supported after all. If you're reading an article about some cool thing somebody did with Arduino, an ad for where you can buy your own Arduino or similar device or get toolkits for development wouldn't be the least bit out of place. Readers might actually appreciate it. An Flash-enabled video ad for penis pills is probably going to draw ire.

  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:06PM (#43131673)

    Exactly. Whether you want to use an ad blocker or not is your personal choice. If destructoid or anyone else's website don't get enough ad revenue, that's their problem. I personally use ad blockers and do not care at all whether websites I frequent vanish because of that or not. Other sites with other sources of revenue will replace them. Or, if not, I will have to pay for my news if I really want it so desparately. (By the same token, of course, I do not care for websites that try to block ad blockers. If I see a popup telling me to switch off my ad blocker, I'll simply point my browser somewhere else.)

    It is wrong to claim that the market always regulates itself, after all there are monopolies, business cartels, closed markets, chaotic market behavior and instability, etc., but in this case it does just fine.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:25PM (#43131787)

    > without ads 3/4 of the internet would not exist.

    And nothing of value was lost.

    IF a company serving ads wants to pay for _MY_ bandwidth costs then I have no problem with them serving ads. Until then, they can fuck off with their cross-hosts Flash, Java, and Javascript ads that don't respect my eyes and ears.

    Blocking ads makes loading their website FASTER so I can tell if the CONTENT _and_ COMMUNITY is worth paying for (or not.)

    Only cowards use censorship.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:26PM (#43131799) Journal

    In many types of markets, if you don't advertise, you go out of business, even if your prices are less than you competitors. The simple fact, that IF you take away ALL adverts, chances of you being able to make a "name" for yourself(product) is none. Your chances of expanding your business is none. The chances of failure is all but assured.

    And then there is the scale of things. IF you sell one widget at $10 per time period, and that is all you will ever sell on "word of mouth" advertizing, and you make $1 on that widget, you've made $1. However, if you mark the price up $1 and now sell three, you're $1 better off than not marking the price up, and selling less. Now, because you sell three, your cost to develop the widget is spread across three widgets lowering that cost on each widget, earning you another $1. And because you have to have a new process, that can make three, you become more efficient and earn another $1 across the three. Now if you conntinue, you can lower the price to $10, and still earn more, even while spending on advertizing.

    Advertizing is about breaking down the economies of scale barrier, as much as anything. While my example is overly simplistic, and illustrative only, it does give the reason why advertizing is important, and shouldn't be studied in a vacuum. The problem with overly simplistic examples, like yours, is that they don't cover the reasons people need and should be advertizing.

    Lastly, if your competitors are advertizing and you're not, you're going to be out of business, and rather quickly. They will get your business, and make more money. My view, advertizing, if done right, is at best a necessary evil, it allows new products to gain markets they wouldn't normally get. Let say, you're on Sprint, AT&T or Verizon, and T-Mobile suddenly stopped advertizing, and lowered their prices by $5/ mo (15%), but didn't tell anyone. Do you think they would succeed in making you switch (all other things equal)?? The others are advertizing all the newest coolest phones, and T-Mobile isn't saying a word, how do you know what phones T-Mo has, their prices or whatnot?

    Yes, there are rare exceptions to this (see Apple iPad for example) where a product takes off better than wildest dreams could hope for, and everyone involved are shocked.

  • by click2005 ( 921437 ) * on Sunday March 10, 2013 @02:01PM (#43132053)

    Why are you trying to blame the readers when the problem lies with the advertisers?

    I'm just like most people.

    I dont have a problem with adverts where I get to decide if the advert interests me.
    I dont have a problem with bright or colourful adverts.
    I dont have a problem when I get to choose if I give you information.

    If you try to ram it down my throat I will block it.
    If you make it annoying or distracting I will block it.
    If you assume you can collect information I will block it.

    I am not data or a product, I am a potential customer. If you try to treat me as anything else I will block you.

  • No I think they should stand by their product as I do. Think if I handed out a virus to my customers I wouldn't have to clean up the mess? Then why in the fuck should THEY get a free pass for doing the same? They have no fucking clue as to whether the ads they are serving is malicious or not and frankly I have yet to see a single indicator that they give a rat's ass one way or the other as long as the checks roll in.

    If your business model is flawed that is YOUR problem, not mine. There is a REASON why adblock suddenly exploded, its because people got tired of having to shell out nearly a c-note to guys like me because sites like Destructoid gave them a zero day and got tired of having their senses assaulted by blaring ads. Why do you think nobody cared about blocking ads for the longest time? Because at the worst they were little GIFs and hyperlinks. Now if you block ads you can watch the risk of infection drop right off the chart, before adblock I'd see some customers 3 or 4 times a year, after? Now I only see them when they need hardware upgrades.

    Like it or not the current ad system is BROKEN, its broken because there is ZERO responsibility when it comes to passing out infections with the ads (look up the figures on where people get viruses from, you'll see more than half comes from infected ads so blocking ads just cut your risk in half) and its broken because they show ZERO respect for their customers by letting blaring ads take over the page, fucking up the flow and making web surfing frankly unpleasant.

    So either take responsibility, make sure all ads are checked BEFORE they go lie for the presence of malware, stop allowing blaring ads, and stop fucking up page layouts to try to milk us for ad money. If you don't like it? Then your ass better be coming up with a new model, something to replace the current broken mess with something more secure and user friendly because its my job to protect my customers and that means blocking your malware ridden ads.

  • Hear Hear and I would only ad that the current ad system has become such a haven for malware it makes the old porn topsite pages look clean by comparison. When you can cut a person's risk of getting malware by more than half by simply blocking ads honestly you'd be a fool NOT to block ads.

    Now I have argued for years that we need to replace JavaScript and the current "Hey we'll crap the content all over the place and use third party dynamic content to "build" the page" for something designed from the ground up with security in mind, JavaScript was designed in a less hostile world than we have now and every thing we've tried from sandboxes to scan before load AV plugins have been bandaids on the bullet wound that is the current "Web 3.0" design model. But even if you don't agree with me surely everyone can see how big a problem the current system is when you look at how the vast majority of viruses the average user gets will be from infected ads.

    Are these websites gonna pay to have any viruses they deliver removed? Then why in the fuck should I care that you go under if you have built your entire business model around forcing me to play roulette with the security of my system? I have found the single biggest security measure you can perform on a user's system is to block ads, yet you tell me I have to put all my customers at risk because you can't find a way to make money any other way? Fuck you lazy web devs, either stand by your product and make damned sure not a single ad you serve is a source of malware or find another business model because as long as ads are the #1 attack vector every customer WILL be getting adblock from me PERIOD.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @08:23PM (#43134181) Homepage Journal

    You know what, though? I keep a website up. I write free, optionally donation supported software. Which has thousands of users (which represents a huge success in a very narrow niche.) I have a few things on there that can earn (I sell a t-shirt through Zazzle every few months or so, mainly.) I make donations available, but neither mandatory or nagging -- that's resulted in $120 over a period of one year. The site costs me about $40 every three months, plus name registration, so about $200/year, realistically.

    I do it because I like to do it. People do come. But I never assumed it was going to support me or go so far as to break even. Yet, there the website is, no abusive ads (I source my own t-shirt ads... they're just images / css tricks. No audio, no video, no abuse of mouse hovering, no cracking articles into ridiculous numbers of pages.)

    The world is full of other things we can do to earn. I'm not sure that the Internet's ability to share information and the commercial interest of maximizing earnings was ever a good fit.

    Free is sustainable. There have always been people who do things on the web with a primary goal of sharing (whatever it is) and I can't say I'd shed any tears for sites that have a purely commercial model that involves no more than information transfer.

  • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @11:27PM (#43135115)
    I will not block ads from Slashdot. Or any site I frequent. However, if you outsource your ads so they come from a 3rd party I didn't agree to do business with? Block City baby.

    Host ads yourself and I'll deal with them. But using the lazy and easily blockable way of having someone else do it for you means I get to have just as much lazy and easy to use blocking software.
  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday March 11, 2013 @02:45AM (#43135721)

    Sort of reminds me of something similar. In the old days on Unix or VMS the software was often shared around, people would bring tapes to trade shows and go home with all sorts of goodies, or software would be traded on the network when that was available. There was a community of people there who shared, but nothing was shareware. Later on Amiga there were floppies passed around or sold at-cost full of software. Also a community of people who shared with extremely little shareware.

    Then I got a PC and it all changed. Suddenly _everything_ was shareware, even crap that said "I wrote this to learn how to program, but if you use it you owe me $20". There was no community there at all, but there was plenty of shareware and people trying to make money. It was also the time when people started getting into computers and programming not because it was technical or interesting but because they heard you could make good money at it.

    The difference was about having a community, and probably a hacker/enthusiast outlook. Same with computer networking.

  • by Xeno man ( 1614779 ) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:58AM (#43136043)
    Still don't give a shit. Are they running a business or a charity? Business fail and close up shop every damn day, online or not. People invest in their dream with visions of working for them selves only to go out of business a few months or short years later and it's usually one of two things. Poor business plan or changing market. If your business is not making enough money, change your business to sell something else to a different market. The market will change too, change with it or fail.

    Did you think about the poor families that worked at Blockbuster? Did you try renting movies while others were streaming them? Do you take all of your photos with film? Kodak is fading away while people use digital cameras now. Think about those people who might be unemployed. unless you support them.

    Of course you didn't give a damn about those people and a web site is no different. Just because ads are the easiest and sometimes the only means of funding, doesn't mean that we as consumers should care if it's sufficient or not. Did you ever walk out of Walmart thinking, "If I only could have paid a little bit more for this stuff so these people can keep their jobs and help the company out a bit." Of course not. You want the lowest price with the easiest means to acquire your product. Web sites are no different. Some will find a way, some will disappear and how ever it ends up being, that will be okay.

As Will Rogers would have said, "There is no such things as a free variable."