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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: 3020
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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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 157

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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rocketpig



Joined: 20 Dec 2010
Posts: 404

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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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



Joined: 14 Jun 2010
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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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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
Postpostpostpostpost!


Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 1735
Location: Canadia

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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SuitCase



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who is a website operator to tell their visitor how they should view the site? You are yet another content provider among millions. You should be grateful they granted you their attention.

If, from there, they enjoy you enough to feel like they owe you instead, so be it. But it's an unhealthy attitude (for the web) to feel as if anyone owes you for the content you put out.
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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 3:38 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.)

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?

Interesting points. I'd tended to assume that ad-block users were a very small percentage of overall internet readership as well, but I don't have any kind of statistics to back that up with. And I suppose it could vary significantly on some sites.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rocketpig wrote:
smbhax.com wrote:

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.


Heh, interesting. :D
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rocketpig



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SuitCase wrote:
Who is a website operator to tell their visitor how they should view the site? You are yet another content provider among millions. You should be grateful they granted you their attention.


I'm not grateful for anything that doesn't earn me a dime. If the person buys something, great. Then I don't care what they do. If they want to keep blocking ads, I won't stop them.

I don't get how it's perfectly okay to block a revenue stream from a free service but it's not okay to politely ask users not to do it. It doesn't make sense.
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SuitCase



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it points to a misunderstanding of how publishing on the web works. You're running against the grain if you assert that you control what you post publicly. Most readers think that way, which is why it's likely your content will be hotlinked, satirised, reposted and reworked all over the place as more and more people come.

I see any attempt to clamp down on that customary freedom as a statement by the author that "I have a stick up my ass about a few things and want you to feel guilty or bad about not doing as I say". It's not hugely disrespectful if you plead politely, but it's still essentially a selfish attitude that will turn some people off. I feel that it's certainly a negative - that people essentially feel goodwill towards you and general happiness that your comic is available for their use on their terms, but when you start introducing provisos you skew that relationship and introduce doubts into the reader's mind about just how dedicated you are to their happiness.

In relation to polite requests, this is kind of academic, btw. But it would be more notable if you put a big "Don't rob us!" guilt tripping banner at the top of ad-blocked pages.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
OKay, the donation model is nototiously unreliable and pretty shitty even when it works. The television model of using content to expose eyes to advertising is not a bad compromise to the inconsistency of relying on the kindness of strangers.

On the other hand, ad services like Google AdSense and the other big one that i forget (and that doesn't relly count because they've pretty much disavowed any relationship with comics) do not have a good track record of delivering non-intrusive, clean, all-ages advertising to their frontage providers. Over the last five years, I have had to clean viruses and trojans from my computer six times. All of those times were due to hits from reputable sites that got a stinker from Google or the other one.

That's all to say that I'm on the fence. I don't use an ad blocker, because I'm too lazy (and I have a fairly serious firewall at this point), but I can see how others might prefer to keep the shutters down. The internet is unlike the television model in at least one respect: the crappy ad where they turn maxi-pads into beach loungers can't infect your tv with tracking software and a backdoor for phishers.

Contextweb (aka ADSDAQ) might be the ad service you're thinking of?

In the past couple months I started getting virus warnings from my free antivirus program (Avira Antivir) when using ImageShack, of all things--although that's one site I use with IE and thus don't have my ad blocker going, since they can't seem to keep their Firefox plugin current.
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