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Asking readers not to block your ads
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2862
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:32 pm    Post subject: Asking readers not to block your ads Reply with quote

Bringing this up as a topic for discussion since I've seen it recently on two webcomics and it struck me as an interesting tactic:

Zap! Online Comic
http://www.zapcomic.com/

has a "don't block our ads!" plea beneath a stack of ads, and a link to a "why" page ( http://www.zapcomic.com/dont-block-our-ads/ ) which says for instance

Quote:
every time someone visits the site, it costs us a little bit of money. Ads help us make that money back.

and

Wayward Sons: Legends
http://waywardsons.keenspot.com/

just put up a blog post on their front page (perma location: http://wizbenny.livejournal.com/12062.html ) in which the author asks readers to unblock ads for the site, because

Quote:
a large number of readers are using ad-blocking software when reading our comic. This is greatly impacting our revenue.

and

Quote:
Now, I'm not demanding you guys do this. I'm not going to take technical steps to force you to, either.


Whew!


So anyway I'm wondering what people think about this: asking readers not to block the ads on your site.

To me it seems a little invasive: as a reader obviously I know what ads are for, and if I'm blocking them, it's because I choose to block them. That's how stuff works.

As a webcomic author, when I do put ads up, I warn readers in advance, and I suggest using an ad blocker if they don't like the ads, mentioning that I use one myself.

If people are blocking your ads, it's because they don't like them; is asking your readers--specifically the ones who dislike ads enough to go out of their way to block them--to subject themselves to something they don't like a good idea?

If you've tried this yourself, how did it go?

Also, I can't help but notice that both of those sites have a large number of ads on their pages. Maybe authors seeing a large discrepancy in pages vs ads served should take this as a hint that they've gone a bit overboard on selling ad space?
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Last edited by smbhax.com on Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:36 am; edited 2 times in total
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wendyw
The Bomb-diggity


Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Posts: 4107
Location: North-East England

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't see a problem with asking readers to unblock ads on your site.

I don't actually have any ads on my site, but if I did and if I were to ask people to please disable ad block on my site I'd probably post about the fact that none of the ads on my site are going to enlarge themselves across the page, make buzzing noises, flash hideously, load up movie trailers, play music or show you anything unsuitable for the site's audience. In fact they're probably things that you might find neat like other comics or sites selling silly t-shirts, steampunk hats or geeky toys.

I would also explain the great thing about ads on webcomic sites is the amount of comics I've discovered or rediscovered because they've posted ads on comics I was already reading.
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Zoe Robinson
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Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1863
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no problem with people running unobtrusive adverts on their sites. I understand why some people install ad-blockers though: it's because not everyone uses unobtrusive adverts. Some people think having adverts float over their content, or adverts play sounds, or adverts that pop up over (or under) the website are a good idea.

These people make my life hell. Why? Because I make a living writing content for the web. If my content doesn't show ads, I still pay for the bandwidth that is being used up, but I get nothing from it.

Visiting one of my websites while using an ad-blocker is effectively telling me you like my stuff enough to look at it but you don't want me to make a living from it. That's not nice.

So I support the people who ask you to unblock the ads on their websites. As long as they stick to their side of the bargain and use unobtrusive adverts, there really is no reason to stop them making a living.
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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 156

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't run an adblocker most of the time (I have one installed, and I have a big toggle button on my toolbar for it so I can turn it on quickly if I end up on a site that annoying ads that blank out pages and the like). I figure, as I run ads I want people to look at, it would be hypocritical for me to block other people's ads as long as they aren't annoying.

I once considered asking people not to run adblockers, but as I can't even convince my own wife to unblock the ads on my site, I considered it a lost cause a while back. Razz
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Kallisti



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ad blocking technology did not simply appear from the ether - it was created as a shield to protect us from the many-tentacled appendages of adverts that did not resepect our individual rights not to be screwed with. A good shepherd of their own website should already have smacked down any ads that play sounds, full motion video, blink, wink, nod, thrust wang and/or boob at us, float over images, pop up, pop down, pop sideways, browser hijack, or otherwise do things that the average site visitor would not want to happen to them.*

I think this could be a good idea, but (at the same time) it could also be very dangerous for webcomickers who do not hold a tight reign on the adverts they let show. While I would completely honor a request from a person to unblock their site for ads... if their ads behaved themselves... but if, following a heartfelt plea, I did unblock someone's site and the first thing my computer did was explode from the cacophony of malware, full motion video, and unwelcome penis, I would likely never visit their site again, even if I was a fan of their comic.




*I'm a little more forgiving of animated gif ads than I used to be, mainly because (by comparison) they aren't nearly as horrible as some of the other things I've seen out there.
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rocketpig



Joined: 20 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a "don't talk about ad blockers on my sites" rule, period. If people are caught doing it, I lock the thread and have a lengthy speech about why ad blockers screw over users and could ultimately end a free service that they receive as a user.

Of course, I point out that my sites can be whitelisted in any ad blocker and that I go through lengths to make sure ads are relatively unobtrusive. I never use splash screen ads and I never use modal ads. I also block any ads that auto-play sound. The only things I allow are soundless animations.

Basically, I remove every reason for a reasonable person to block my ads. There will always be dicks that block them anyway but I'm not too worried about that crowd, anyway.
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jaygee
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't blame people using ad blockers. I do it myself most of the time, however, not when browsing comics or other arty sites I trust (unless I've trouble spotting the comic/artwork amongst all the ads).
Zoe Robinson wrote:
Visiting one of my websites while using an ad-blocker is effectively telling me you like my stuff enough to look at it but you don't want me to make a living from it. That's not nice

No, it ain't nice. And it ain't fair. Am in the same boat as you. But I was once on the receiving end of what Kallisti described. Cost me a fair chunk of money to get my computer cleaned up.
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Zoe Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jaygee wrote:
No, it ain't nice. And it ain't fair. Am in the same boat as you. But I was once on the receiving end of what Kallisti described. Cost me a fair chunk of money to get my computer cleaned up.


I would have sued the website owner in that case. There's no reason you should be out of pocket due to their actions.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zoe Robinson wrote:
As long as they stick to their side of the bargain and use unobtrusive adverts, there really is no reason to stop them making a living.

In the past I've experienced pop-over ads, on a small percentage of the pages viewed, on a site where the author was using what was generally considered a reliable ad service; I asked him if they were supposed to be sending any pop-ups, and he said no, but they sneak in sometimes--wasn't sure if that meant the ad service sneaks them in, or if the advertisers sneak them into their Flash code so that they're hard for the ad service to catch. Hopefully that kind of trickery is gradually decreasing on the better ad services.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rocketpig wrote:
I have a "don't talk about ad blockers on my sites" rule, period. If people are caught doing it, I lock the thread and have a lengthy speech about why ad blockers screw over users and could ultimately end a free service that they receive as a user.

Of course, I point out that my sites can be whitelisted in any ad blocker and that I go through lengths to make sure ads are relatively unobtrusive. I never use splash screen ads and I never use modal ads. I also block any ads that auto-play sound. The only things I allow are soundless animations.

Basically, I remove every reason for a reasonable person to block my ads. There will always be dicks that block them anyway but I'm not too worried about that crowd, anyway.

Dude hardcore! What's the reaction from the forum users been, and has there been any noticeable change in ad view stats?
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SuitCase



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is disrespectful to your readers, just as much as being a control freak around the distribution of your content (people redistributing your work.)

If someone dislikes ads enough to remove them, you deal with it. They're still worth something to you. If every 1000 readers you have buys $50 worth of stuff on the store, they're still worth 5 cents, even if you're not getting your monthly 3 cents of ad revenue from them.

If your hosting isn't offset by even 5% of your ad revenue already then you should not be so bad at doing advertising. Ads are pure profit, they're not really a tit-for-tat way to subsidise a server cost. Servers are cheap.

I would never put up a "PLEASE DON'T BLOCK ADS" for the reason that it treats your reader like an asshole, misses the point of the internet, and (pragmatically speaking) makes the following point less tenable: barely anyone blocks ads.

It's a nerdy thing to do, and it might cost you like 2% of your impressions per month. Not that many people block ads anyway. But if you keep bringing it up, with a huge link on your homepage? It gets people thinking about it who might otherwise not. So how is this even a pragmatic choice? It's like if you put up an eBook and menacingly rail at the buyer about your exclusive distribution rights. It's likely to inspire just as many people to spite you and post it on a torrent site as it would discourage already-honest people.

So why even bother? It's morally a lame thing to do, plus it seems a likely way to get a few more people going "ah! I forgot to reinstall adblock".

Monetise in other ways. Be inventive instead of whining. We have over a hundred people paying a subscription for, amongst other things, a cookie that removes all our ads. It even makes the website a little more usable in places. I would bet just ten of those monthly subs would offset every single lost impression to ad blockers, and who even cares about that $40 even if you can't offset it?
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rocketpig



Joined: 20 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

smbhax.com wrote:
rocketpig wrote:
I have a "don't talk about ad blockers on my sites" rule, period. If people are caught doing it, I lock the thread and have a lengthy speech about why ad blockers screw over users and could ultimately end a free service that they receive as a user.

Of course, I point out that my sites can be whitelisted in any ad blocker and that I go through lengths to make sure ads are relatively unobtrusive. I never use splash screen ads and I never use modal ads. I also block any ads that auto-play sound. The only things I allow are soundless animations.

Basically, I remove every reason for a reasonable person to block my ads. There will always be dicks that block them anyway but I'm not too worried about that crowd, anyway.

Dude hardcore! What's the reaction from the forum users been, and has there been any noticeable change in ad view stats?


Actually, positive in both regards. People don't really have the guts to stand up and defend their blocking of the only revenue stream of a completely free service (which it is in the case of my forum sites). To boot, ad clicks go up for a few days afterwards. It's kinda funny.

Some people block ads for legitimate reasons. Some sites go WAY overboard and force-feed ads at users to the point of blocking content for a few seconds. I think my speeches about how my ads are unobtrusive get a few people who blacklist all sites thinking about it and they whitelist my site. In the end, it works for everybody.
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wendyw
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SuitCase wrote:
This is disrespectful to your readers, just as much as being a control freak around the distribution of your content (people redistributing your work.)


I don't really see how either requesting that people turn ad block off (requesting not demanding) or keeping control over your work is disrespectful to anyone.
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rocketpig



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wendyw wrote:
SuitCase wrote:
This is disrespectful to your readers, just as much as being a control freak around the distribution of your content (people redistributing your work.)


I don't really see how either requesting that people turn ad block off (requesting not demanding) or keeping control over your work is disrespectful to anyone.


Um, yeah. They are a guest of your site, whether they acknowledge that or not. In most cases, all site content ends up free whether you charge a subscription for extra features or not.

I'm not saying that it gives us as site owners the right to be dicks about it but politely stumping about the negatives of ad blocking is not a bad thing.

Hell, they ARE in our sandbox and it's not as if the OP is talking about IP banning all people he finds ad blocking. Most people I know who ad block do it because of one or two sites that use obnoxious advertising and don't mind whitelisting non-offensive sites, they just never thought about it.
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munkymu
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobody likes ads. We know this from watching TV -- given the option most people are going to flip channels or go see what's in the fridge. If your only revenue method depends on people not avoiding what they'd rather not see, if guilt is all you've got in your arsenal, then your marketing plan is kinda fucked.

It's not like you didn't know this. It is not some kind of *secret* that people hate ads and will avoid them when they can. Nobody made you put stuff up for free on the Net rather than trying to print it or put it behind a subscription wall or whatever. You did this because you thought this was going to get you the best returns for your effort. And if it's not then you have to change. Maybe you have to take your stuff down and make us all sorry. Maybe you have to print t-shirts. Maybe you have to innovate. Whatever. Just do it instead of complaining about how people aren't nice. It's not really working for the newspaper guys and it's unlikely to work for you in the long term.
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