Any site you’re not paying to use gets its revenue from ads. Still, research consistently shows approximately one in every five internet users have ad blockers enabled on their browser.
Now we all get ads that are annoying. That’s a problem for the advertising industry to solve, but these intrusive placements are also what enable the free and independent nature that makes the internet what it is.
If you love sharing content, interacting with ads is unavoidable. Otherwise, you’re left with the pay walls we’ve already seen run rampant in the mobile app and game industries.
The Lesser of Two Evils
The problem, of course, is online advertisers don’t have much of a leg to stand on. Rather than produce higher quality ads, they’ve resorted to click bait. We’ve all dealt with our fair share of garbage being forced onto our screens, but it only gets more disruptive when ad blocking is used.
Ads need to be a lot of things: creative, interesting, engaging, non-intrusive, and not self-promotional. All I ask is that you wave the white flag and call a truce, so we can all reap three quality benefits:
1. Artists continue working.
Producing content is hard, and even the Gawkers of the world aren’t making enough to stay financially solvent. By allowing ads, the content producers that customers love can keep working.
An IAB/YouGov study in the U.K. found that although 22 percent of users utilize ad blockers, more than 50 percent are willing to disable them in exchange for content. By disabling ad blockers — and even interacting with ads from your favorite online creators — you’ll directly affect their revenue streams.
2. Pay walls are removed.
How do you break through a pay wall? By speaking with your clicks. Everyone hates visiting a Twitter link or playing a level in a game, only to be presented with a pay wall that demands a $10 monthly fee to continue — it’s infuriating.
Old media services like the Wall Street Journal have long employed pay walls. Wired recently joined in as well, denying ad blocker users unless they disable the software or pay $1 per week for ad-free viewing.
3. Ads become less obnoxious.
Ad quality goes up as the budgets do. Ergo, if you want better ads, you have to watch a few more of them. This is why Super Bowl ads are almost as notorious as the game itself. There’s no need to push click bait when quality content is being supported by the consumers, but ad-blocking software is projected to cost websites as much as $12 billion per year by 2020.
If you enjoy a good Super Bowl commercial, you should support those artists and the producers toiling away on projects for other platforms. Mobile ads have improved over time, as have video ads for online services such as YouTube and Hulu.
Even Brendan Eich, a co-creator of famed open-source browser Firefox, is helping improve ad quality through the new Brave browser. Instead of simply blocking all ads, it curates them through a network that ensures the ad doesn’t eat up bandwidth (and ensure that it doesn’t contain tracking cookies).
The free and open web is supported by hundreds of thousands of independent content producers from all genres. If you support a free internet, do it a solid and view a few ads.
Consider it a necessary evil.
About the Author: Andrew J. Chapin is the founder of benjamin, an e-commerce flash deals app that forces you to make a purchase decision in 60 seconds or less. In a space that’s thick with competition from contenders including Groupon and LivingSocial, benjamin has grown to 30,000 active daily users in just five months. Andrew’s business development experience comes from companies large and small, including Microsoft, Color Labs, and Feathr.