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The Smashing Book #5

We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. new Smashing Book 5 features smart responsive design techniques and patterns.

Why Web Designers Should Not Use Ad Blockers


Editor’s Note Link

This post is an article from our new series of “opinion columns,” in which we give people in the Web design community a platform to raise their voice and present their opinion on something they feel strongly about to the community. Please note that the content in this series is not in any way influenced by the Smashing Magazine Editorial team. If you want to publish your article in this series, please send us your thoughts1 and we will get back to you.

— Vitaly Friedman, Editor in Chief of Smashing Magazine

I’ll start this article with a positive statement: Most people frequenting the web design community (whether they are casual readers or regular design bloggers doing research) understand that nothing is truly free (not even content2), and appreciate the fact that many blogs, design resources, and tech news sites rely on advertising to keep them afloat.

Ad Blockers: Evil?

But unfortunately, not everyone gets this, and not everyone understands that with some viral pushing of certain trends and ideas, we as a community could be inadvertently shooting ourselves in the foot while we try to make our own browsing experience less ad-intrusive, and more comfortable.

Because of the advent of social media and the apparent ease with which trends, habits, and ideas can be spread, and because of the incredible speed with which such ideas can be spread, the mere discussion of ads being too intrusive on web design blogs could cause a serious problem in a presently-thriving community.

Ad Blockers Hinder the Community Link

The design blogging community would not be what it is today without ads. It’s true that you could make the argument that much of the trash and superficial design writing online wouldn’t exist without the support of advertisements, but that is just a natural byproduct of mass media. Infomercials would not exist if ABC3 and the Discovery Channel4 didn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean ABC and the Discovery Channel never produce quality content. The bad content will always exist if money is involved — but that doesn’t make the financial benefits necessarily evil.

We should be proud that we are part of a community whose advertisements are often from high-quality software and app development companies. Many of these companies have worked hard to produce useful and beautiful products that assist us immensely in our workflow. Many of such products are offered free of charge, with pay options for enhanced versions. You don’t find that kind of thing very often in other media, so we should be willing to support our advertisers fully, and should from time to time take a look at the products they offer and, if we genuinely find them useful, share them with our contacts.

Ad Blockers Promote a Me-First Attitude Link

Nothing succeeds when individuals are selfish. Ultimately, selfishness will lead to demise because a community cannot truly thrive if the individuals that comprise it are only in it for themselves. When you choose to block ads while you surf the web, you’re basically saying “I only care about my own comfort, and I don’t want anyone else to benefit from my web surfing.” It’s a shame that any web designer would have that attitude.

What would happen if ad blocker plugins started spreading like wildfire throughout the design community, rendering virtually all ads useless? That would be a terrible thing, and would effectively destroy many of our favorite blogs, and would negatively impact many of the very people in the community we claim to be “friends” with.

Ad Blockers Could Cause a Mini “dot com bust” Link

I’m in no position to intelligently analyze the dot com bubble burst5 or “dot com bust” of the late 90s, but if we promote an “everything should be free” industry, then we’re just setting ourselves up for something similar.

To get an idea of the type of revenue streams that we’re hindering when we use an ad blocker, go to the BuySellAds “buy ads” page6 and do a search for any of the top design blogs, then click on the “more details” link to view the amount of money that advertisers are willing to pay for a simple square or rectangular ad on many of these websites.

Sure, you can have a negative, selfish view of this, thinking that these sites are getting rich because of your web browsing, but that would be a terrible attitude to have. No, these advertisers are not making these website owners rich, they’re putting thousands of dollars into the design community, which is positively affecting all of us.

If we ignore the contribution these advertisers are making, we could inadvertently cause our own little bubble to burst. That’s why it really upsets me when I see design blogs promoting the use of ad blockers, and even worse when I see design bloggers writing about blogs being too ugly because of ads.

Ad Blockers Make the Web Less Real Link

When I worked for a big design agency here in Toronto, I almost always used Internet Explorer for my browsing. My co-workers didn’t understand why I used IE so much. Mainly I did so because I was used to it from years of using IE6. But it was also great because it gave me a realistic view of the web, because I saw things the way our clients did. What does this have to do with ad blockers?

An ad blocker reduces your ability (if only slightly) to design with your clients’ needs in mind. With ads showing through in full force, you’ll always see things the way they’re intended, and, as mentioned, you’ll be supporting the quality ads that have helped build our community.

Ad Blockers Shouldn’t Be Used (for Quality Blogs) Link

As a community, we should take a stand against any person or blog that promotes the use of plugins or other methods that effectively take money out of the pockets of the very people who are willing to put money into our community. I wrote this article because I saw a tweet promoting a roundup of Google Chrome extensions, one of which was an ad blocker. I found a few of the extensions useful, but I wouldn’t bother promoting the roundup myself because I don’t want to promote the use of such a plugin.

If you run a web design blog, don’t promote the use of these browser plugins, and don’t complain about the amount of ads that appear on your favorite blogs — because you probably wouldn’t even know about those blogs if they didn’t have ads on them. Instead, have a balanced view of ads on design blogs, and help support the community by using the products and services that our advertisers are selling (or in some cases, generously giving away).

Poll: Do You Use an Ad Blocker? Link

Footnotes Link

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Louis Lazaris is a freelance web developer and author based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs about front-end code on Impressive Webs and curates Web Tools Weekly, a weekly newsletter for front-end developers.

  1. 1

    as designers we should find the way to design ads in such a way that they work for the client and are not so visually invasive to the content of the web.. if we don’t then who!?

    • 2

      That’s right. The design idea is form follows function and not everybody follows the Ad Block…!-)

    • 3

      Now, honestly, bloggers and designers have ads only because they earn money with their blogs. If they can’t keep a site without ads, then they disappear, that’s just the evolution. So if your blog can’t survive with users who use ad-blocker, then just shut it down and move on. Life is not easy.

      I am using ad blockers for 2 years now and I haven’t seen any site being harmed by my behavior. Stupid article, stupid argument.

      • 4

        agree :) Stupid article…

        • 5

          just saying something is stupid may make people agree with you but it’s an equally weak argument. I would agree I think some points in the article are a little blah. But as a whole what would happen to if all the blogs that are alive because of ad funds died… I am guessing smashing magazine would not be around.

          However if ad blockers get big then I am sure designers and coders will figure out anti, ad blockers and things will just get crazy going back and forth which will in the end waste a crap ton of my time learning how to bypass ad blockers…. ramble….

        • 6

          totally stupid article. Use AdBlock Plus if you are using firefox :-)

        • 7

          agree. super stupid article!

      • 9

        Agreed. Horrible post. Nothing insults designers more than to see a post telling them they should see ads because its ‘good for community’.

        This is 2010. We know how sites are monetized. Instead of blanketing a plea for support as “professional advice”, why don’t you go out and ask your readers to support the sponsors of the site? Take a lesson from, and prove that you trust your readers to support good content. Don’t treat your readers like idiots.

        • 10


          This is a quote from the article:

          …we should be willing to support our advertisers fully, and should from time to time take a look at the products they offer and, if we genuinely find them useful, share them with our contacts.

          So your assumption that the article doesn’t encourage sponsor support is just plain wrong. Nobody is treating anyone like an idiot. Using an ad blocker is fine if you want to improve your own personal experience. I understand that. But I don’t think it’s worth it for the trade-off it requires: That advertisers who are willing to support these blogs end up wasting their money and eventually folding because the business model fails. And why does it fail? Because we couldn’t leave a few non-intrusive ads in a sidebar.

      • 11

        So you are saying you would rather see the web as a pay model since if ad blockers took over a fair share of the market, most sites would go this way which would also drive the quality of content down for the free ones. The only ones that will lose are you the users :)

      • 12

        I would assume these sites aren’t being hurt because there are enough people who DON’T use an ad blocker that do view them, and do click on the ads. :)

        Seriously, how are these people supposed to pay for their space and bandwidth without ads?

        Stupid comment.

    • 13

      Totally agree. I keep adds enabled in Tweetie because they are attractive and informative. Unfortunately so many of the adds which my nice shiny addblocker blocks are not attractive or informative and often promote products containing spyware and scams.

      Its simple, addblockers will exist until the add industry cleans up their act and stops trying to trick users, infect them with spyware and plaster porn across their screens. I agree blogs with decent adds loose out but then again you are not all blameless… 10 adds for PSD 2 HTML services… come on thats not informative thats just repetitive.


    • 14

      The idea for ads is that they need to be visible when a visitor comes to your site…

    • 15

      Ad blockers are for people so self-entitled that they refuse to even passively support sites that give something to them for free.

      • 16

        Completely agree. To those who are calling this a “stupid” article clearly fit in the “Me-First Attitude” group.

      • 17

        You cannot be more wrong

      • 18

        I’m almost ashamed to have you as a namesake. Just so you know, you don’t make money unless I click or buy something from an ad. Some people (like myself) aren’t too interested in buying from these ads as not even the site owner can guarantee the quality of the product.

        Actually, since you’re so concerned, everytime your TV goes for an ad break, I urge you to sit and watch every single one of them. Sure it doesn’t make them money, but if you don’t watch, you’re KILLING THE INDUSTRY!

        • 19

          You couldn’t be more wrong here. Ads can be paid on clicks or impressions (views). Television ads are absolutely priced based on viewership. For the site or tv show that carries the ad, the way they are able to pay for the content and entertainment they provide is based on their viewership. To believe otherwise absolutely falls into the “Me first” attitude category. You are so worried about only getting what you want, and nothing you don’t. You clearly read SM, maybe you enjoy it, maybe you don’t. Would you prefer to pay a subscription in order to read it? Would you prefer to pay a monthly cost to watch Hulu or YouTube?

        • 20

          The TV station still makes money if you leave the room with the TV on during commercial breaks. They don’t know that you ran to the toilet and aren’t in there watching it. All they know is that there is a TV on in your house while the ads are running. Point not made.

      • 21

        Nice assumption, but I use adblocker because I absolutely despise ads, especially those that are thrown in your face. There is no way I will ever click on one, so why should I have to put with them distracting me from reading the actual content?

        I believe having a website is an investment, it should cost some money because it just isn’t free. Only if the costs get out of hand or maintaining the website is your actual job, measures should be taken. Unfortunately, pretty much every idiot who just opened a website thinks he should put a lot of ads on it so he can make revenue with it instead of using it to pay the hosting bills. If like a website’s content, I’d much rather donate some cash (or buy the Smashing Book ;)) than having to see ads floating around everywhere.

      • 22

        Why do we need to see ads if we don’t click on them? No thanks, viruses, adware and cookies.

  2. 23

    I agree until the site I’m surfing it’s not composed by more Ad than content.

  3. 24

    Unfortunately, we don’t only browse website with ads where: “companies have worked hard to produce useful and beautiful products that assist us immensely in our workflow”. We also browse sites were adverts disrupt the browsing experience, pretend to be system messages and often push unsolicited content, images and even audio.

    • 25

      Yes, certainly, but most ad-blockers allow you to add exceptions for certain sites. That’s what I do.

      • 26

        me too. i add some sites (my favorite sites) to white list, so i’m supporting people. but when i want to read news, i enable adblock, because half site contains banners. it raises my cpu usage to almost 90%, pc begins to lag and my browsing experience becomes crappy. so if website respects its visitor, visitor will respect website.

        • 27

          yep, antanas, you speak for me, too

          • 28

            Michael SteelWolf

            June 14, 2010 8:45 am

            Do you actually click on any of those ads? Do you purchase products or services from the companies they represent? If not, you’re just helping your favorite site be dishonest and take money to show ads to disinterested people.

            Ad blocking is excellent; it eliminates a whole class of ad-blind people who hate ads so much they install extensions to get rid of them. You’re better off finding ways to advertise that your visitors will actually be interested in, with or without blockers. Attempting to guilt people into loading ads they’re not going to look at or interact with is a waste of everybody’s time and money.

          • 29

            @Michael SteelWolf, so all television and radio stations are dishonest then?

          • 30

            Michael SteelWolf

            June 15, 2010 10:59 am

            If they were writing opinion columns chastising their viewers for using DVRs to skip commercials or turning the volume down during ads, then yes.

      • 31

        Unfortunately, a basic principle of web design is “don’t make me think”. If I have to think about which sites to add to an ad blocker then I’m going to take the “no think” option and block all ads.

    • 33

      Nollind Whachell

      June 16, 2010 7:32 am

      “Ad blockers promote a me-first attitude. Nothing succeeds when individuals are selfish.”

      You’re forgetting the obvious. The companies responsible for the ads are the ones initiating this “me-first” attitude in the first place which is why most people only naturally respond in kind. I mean if the ads were actually useful, engaging, and truly targeted the interests of the viewers, people wouldn’t be blocking them in the first place.

      This is why I pretty much agree with Martin’s reply here and those under his thread. If you truly value the content of a site, most definitely add them as an exception to being blocked so you can see what their ads are like. If they are engaging and useful, keep them up. If they are annoying like others, then block them again.

      All said and done though, ads should be your secondary means of support rather than your first (especially if you have a smaller community). Tip jars, affiliate links, not too mention creating and selling things are much betters means of direct support. For example, many successful bloggers often relay most of their content freely on their websites initially but then organize it into a purchasable book format later for easy reading offline (i.e. Gapingvoid, David Weinberger, 37 Signals, Smashing Magazine, etc). Other designers prefer to just create and sell templates (i.e. WP premium templates).

      • 34

        I agree. I use ad-blockers to shield myself not because I think websites should be free, but because the ads are intrusive and frankly an insult.

        We have so many means at our disposal to make ads engaging and targeted, and yet what happens most of the time is still the banner-bombing, whereby everybody gets exposed to ads that only actually interest less than 1% of all visitors. This, not the mere existence of banners is what we’re decrying. What’s most baffling is that such a low conversion rate is still bought by the majority of companies, when they should insist that they actually get something worthwhile for their money – aside from the tarnished reputation that particularly intrusive ads bring with them.

        I am never going to play any of the bazillion free browser games, nor order any dietary supplements or additional mobile contracts. These ads make up a great percentage of what is pointed my way, and it shows an utter disregard for what I actually want or care about. You will not engage me personally until you engage me *personally*.

        On the other hand, if ever I were interested in ordering a custom cake, I know which blog to turn to and I think there is an important lesson here. One that smashing magazine has learned, since most ads are not only in a predictable place but also specifically targeted at their audience and thus have probably one of the highest click-through-rates on the web.

  4. 35

    Sorry, but, your guilt trip will not effect my surfing habits. AdBlock on my Firefox is possibly the best invention that has hit the net for many years. I will never stop using it.

    Why not try an article on a marketing blog, and harp onto them about how ridiculous and invasive their current methods are for delivering their (mainly nonsense) advertising content. Give THEM the guilt trip. THEY are the ones who might kill your site and some of the best blogs. NOT US!

    We use blockers to make the web more usable and pleasant. Go and change THEIR methods of delivery and not our methods of protecting the sanity and quality of our online time.

    • 36

      Certainly, I also hate these marketing people, but the author is talking about removing ad blockers for design blogs and I think he is absolutely correct. Make exceptions for the design blogs and support the community, but use it for those nasty sites that want to trick us and use invasive marketing methods!

      • 37

        then u need a regulatory to decide which sites to be exempted and which to be blocked!!

        • 38

          Yeah I would rather just have my eye flip away instead of selecting sites to block… I am very rarely tricked by ads mostly because tricky ad designers seem to use windows 98 style errors messages and I am on a 2010 mac… so i just think to myself wait a second i’m not on a PC I don’t need to download spyware protector…

          i would if there is a difference in ad blocker useage between, mac and pc users

    • 39

      How very very true.

  5. 40

    Ad block sucks, you should remove them from this website

    • 41

      Using the same logic: you suck, therefore you have to be removed from the internets…

  6. 42

    Designers and developers should just grow a pair and get over the fact that advertising is a part of the web. I don’t and will never use any form of adblocking system on any of the computers that I use to browse the internet. Do they turn off the TV or radio when an advert comes on? I doubt it!!

    • 43

      No, we just record everything with sky plus & watch it back later fast forwarding through the ads ;)

      But seriously – ad as annoying as they are – are just part of the web. It’s just life

    • 44

      Actually, yes… yes I do. I switch the station in my car almost instantly, or even turn off the radio.

      I don’t like watching TV for this exact reason. In an age where I can rent DVDs or watch plenty of unlimited ad-free content online (even with, say, a Netflix subscription) I feel no need to be subjected to horrible, horrible ads which 99% of them seem to be.

      I don’t mind paying a small subscription price… but my time is more valuable than ads and I don’t want my experience interrupted by unsolicited content.

      • 45

        Same here. I don’t listen to radio but only to my iTunes library, most of the music in it I have bought, I never watch TV because every time I’m in someone else’s place and they have it on I just get angry because of how braindead dumb the ads (and most of the content) in there are.
        And yes, I do use an adblocker because these supercool ads that you’re happy to look at don’t exist beyond some webdesign websites, most of them are just animations that keep on bouncing over your screen, playing audio and video while I’m listening to music while browsing, and that just makes me angry and leave the site.

        To those who say to ads being annoying “this is life” and that people using adblockers are selfish… this is really a stupid argument since you could be answered (as marc coley at the top put it, even though I don’t agree with him) that adblockers “are life” also, and that life is hard.

        I’m ok with micropayments for high-quality content that would remove ads, and I’d be willing to pay to support a service even if I use an adblocker, just like I use sponsored Apple Store links on my favourite Mac-news website, just like I pay indie software that could easily be cracked (after I have used the trial to make sure it fulfills my needs), just like I pay for my music instead of downloading it (after I have downloaded some albums to make sure I like it first), but I simply wouldn’t be able to stand an ad-crippled website long enough to decide whether I want to support it or not.

        • 46

          I totally agree with Patrick and Matti. I too won’t watch TV because of the annoying ads. I like to be able to choose the content I want to look at and listen to. Non-intrusive ads are extremely rare. And between you and me, why would I want to see ads at all if I have ways to block them? For you to make more money?

          I understand your problem and respect your position but I disagree with it. As a surfer I despise ads. As a designer I choose not to implement any on the websites I create for this exact same reason. They are annoying, useless to the surfers and, even though they might mean profit for me, they go against what I believe to be ethical design.

          This article to me seems like a desperate attempt to make profit. Instead of spitting on adblocker users, you could simply be honest and ask them nicely to consider the option of turning it off. Treating them badly won’t make them support you more. If something it will make them turn away from your site.

    • 47

      I do turn my TV off (which I watch rarely) and will certainly turn off the radio when an advertisement comes on. I have DVRs so I can skip the commercials and Netflix so I can watch my favorite shows uninterrupted. The comparison really doesn’t work well either. TV and radio commercials are an annoyance. Web ads rely on interaction and some attempt to trick less experienced users into performing actions that will harm their computer and spread to other computers.

      Now to comment the article itself. I will always use an ad blocker. It boils down to the fact that for every 1 relevant and on the level ad, there are 10 that have nothing to do with the content and/or try to do something illicit to my computer. I used to keep an exception in my blocker for Smashing Mag but blocked it again after they posted the full page block advertising the book. I understand their desperation at the time, but there was no need to force it down our throats.

    • 48

      I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio. In terms of TV, I buy a lot of episodes over iTunes by preference (unfortunately it’s not practical to get all my TV that way, due to some programmes not being released on iTunes here), pre-record almost everything else, and mute adverts in anything left.

      I’ll whitelist any site I like and know will monitor the adverts, but much of the web is far too much of a hostile mess without AdBlock.

      Anyone thought of making a Firefox extension that blocks the whole site from loading if it contains adverts? That way we could avoid adverts and not be considered to be taking content without giving anything back.

    • 49

      So when you’re watching a recorded episode of your favorite show, you just suffer through the commercials? Same logic there, pal.

  7. 50

    I agree with sites that impose a color palette on their ads. If my color palette is green and blue, then the ads should be green and blue..

  8. 51

    I agree up to a point, which is this: some sites are so agressive with their ads it ruins the website. Keep things in proportion is my way of looking at it. Some ads are just too intrusive and irritating, surely this has the reverse effect from that which is inteded?

  9. 52

    Smashing Magazine is a good example of ads integration, I’ve never thought about blocking them. But I’ve blocked some ads at other websites because it was a pain for my eyes – something animated, blinking all the time, yellow or red… And this article doesn’t make me regret about blocking those headache-ads!

    • 53

      I disgree, Smashing is an example of terrible ad placement. On my 13inch screen, I have nothing but a title without scrolling. The area is full of ad. I like the content here, but put a paragraph of content before a ad.

  10. 54

    Mathias M. Stav

    June 14, 2010 4:51 am

    I use a flashblocker, so some ads will be blocked. But not the ones on smashing ;)

    • 55

      I am using a flash blocker, too. But on the other hand I want to see all web sites as the publisher designed them, even with all the ads. Its just that flash is such a **** ** *** *** on a mac.

      • 56

        The current version – 10.1 – runs fine on a Mac, faster than Windows for many things and much less resource-intensive than 10.0.

  11. 57

    The web is open. When your server delivers HTML back to my browser, I am free to do what I want. I use adBlock to have greater usability, this helps to not distract my focus while finding the right content.

    why i started using it? most of the websites are full of ads and I am required to search for actual content residing somewhere in between those ads.

    Secondly, why r u pushing your strategy to website *visitors*? Why not educate developer for better websites that give priority to content and put ads in appropriate manner !!!

    Even thought i put ads on my website, but they do not mix with content.

    • 58

      I totally agree with this.

    • 59

      Wrong, You are not free to do with it as you want as you do not own the content just because you downloaded it. The orignal author has the copyright to the content. Think before you say something really stupid.

      • 60

        Mike, I really admire content owners. Adblock does not regenerate content digitally – that any (c)opy right issue will raise. The discussion here is for blocking of ads, your content owner might own the ads, but not the markup or frankly saying the the adBlock removes the markup and blocks URI before before it gets downloaded.

        If you are really such concerned and a smart web-developer, u can definitely detect presence of adBlock and instruct your visitors to disable then only continue!

  12. 61

    I have two follow up questions for people who use ad blockers:

    1) Do you pay for a subscription that fully funds the maintenance, authors and growth of a website?

    2) Do you turn ad blocking off on sites that are not serving annoying ads? For example, I cannot remember one time in the many hours I have spent on Smashing Magazine where I have seen an annoying ad.

    • 62

      1) Yes, I pay for plenty of websites that provide a valuable service, though not always in the form of a subscription. Ebay, Zopa, Bullion Vault, Betfair, and Kiva all make plenty of money from me.
      2) No, my blocker is permanently switched on. I can’t remember seeing an annoying ad on Smashing Magazine either – in fact I can’t remember seeing any ads at all.

    • 63

      Some of us have even donated to Wikipedia, Sourceforge, also IrfanView, UBCD, and hell, even Wikileaks!

      Because of ad networks and their greed, they cross the line over to malicious and / or annoying content.

      Making money from an online community can be done in many ways – see Sitepoint – they make books, videos, tutorials, and IIRC mugs, T-shirts and more.

      The design community can surely be expected to unite to make the web more usable. So can we have a detailed discussion on how to make badly coded websites look worse – so that the guys with the extra cash to blow on strip clubs are forced to make better websites?

      How about all designers / webmsaters make a representative / lobby group or something and ask that all websites be mandated to be standards compliant.

      The point is essentially this:
      If you want to make money, put your hands into pockets that are full / overflowing. Asking us to shell out pennies is not going to be effective and ends up looking manipulative or stupid, which I know it is not.

      There are any number of innovations that can be made or exist and direct banner ads are much better than through ad networks. Like in real life. The OOH ad company pays the shopkeeper or the car owner directly. No middlemen.

      And you can track to your heart’s content from your own server logs.

      The only type of company that has a moral justification for charging via ad networks is a search engine – Google, Yahoo, Bing, because the give you *priceless* value – the search result from around the whole damn web!

      There’s another common trick to make your ads compulsory which no one should object to – if ads are not blocked, only then content is served, else it is simply not served.

      This already works with most news sites which are not pay-per-view. So that model exists and can be used right away. The better thing would be to either use Google / Yahoo / MS ad networks only and direct banner ads.

      You have to send a few emails around for that. You could make a Facebook app to bring ad-space owners and businesses together.

      This would probably even have the very desirable PHBs to feel all hip and cool while shelling out ca$h for ads directly to you :-)

      Many intelligent solutions can be thought out once you decide that you want to take money from overflowing pockets rather than pennies from visitors.

      That, of course, is just my opinion.

  13. 64

    The industry’s revenue model has to change. It’s selfishness that got us here. We want free content so ads came out. Now we can block ads so the web industry is going to have to learn what the print industry ha known for a while. Free is not a good business model. I have a feeling we will see a lot of changes very soon on how revenue works on the Internet. I say: block away while you can.

  14. 65

    “because you probably wouldn’t even know about those blogs if they didn’t have ads on them”

    Exactly, I would agree to block pop-up ads but not every single ad.

  15. 66

    Matt Orley of Akron, OH

    June 14, 2010 4:58 am

    With the ‘new’ medium of the web, we have new territory- and guess what: ads won’t work for what, 20% of the people… boo hoo. It’s not something to cry about, its just HOW IT IS. Want to advertise? Do better product placements in copy- or find a NEW way to make $ online for the ad blocker crowd. This is JUST how the world is. Don’t act like RIAA and whine about it. Matthew J. Orley

    • 67

      What you’re stating here is exactly why my article is good advice: You want ads inside of page copy? Your essentially giving free reign to spam and unsolicited junk inside of where we expect to see quality content. That’s not a workable solution in the long run.

      Right now, on design blogs, for the most part we have a clear distinction between what is an ad, and what is not. You’re encouraging behavior that will force us to blur the line between ad and non-ad, so we get spammed and we don’t even know it. Sorry, but that’s not going to work. It will cause more problems than it solves.

  16. 68

    “Ad Blockers Should Be Banned”? By that logic, any method of bypassing any method of advertising in any medium should be banned.

    You’re saying we shouldn’t be able to skip commercials in pre-recorded television shows, shouldn’t be able to switch to another radio station when they go to commercial, shouldn’t be able to turn the pages of a magazine to skip the ad pages, shouldn’t be allowed to get up and go to the bathroom during commercial breaks while watching live TV. This is a ludicrous line of reasoning.

    One of the blogs I frequent includes weekly blog posts about the sponsor of the week. I pay far more attention to those ads than the other blinky, flashy, annoying, spying ads on other sites. I’ve actually clicked on the links in those sponsored posts when the advertised product sounds intriguing, whereas the only time I ever click on a banner ad is by accident.

    Advertisers pay for the *chance* to be seen – not for the guarantee that anyone will do anything with what they see. Forcing ads down peoples’ throats, instead of inviting them to take a look, is the best way of increasing resentment and turning people off to your products. We need to get out of the TV-oriented mindset of *forcing* ads onto people, and start thinking more Web 2.0 about this. Kind of like Apple’s iAds, where they invite you to explore instead of ramming it down your throat.

    Offsite web ads slow down the browsing experience, usually add clutter and distraction, and the ad companies involved are spying on my every online move without my consent. I’m darn well going to do everything I can to protect myself against that kind of crap. Instead of trying to legislate a bad business model, build a better business model! Like the blogger I mentioned earlier. A personal recommendation means a lot more than just plastering impersonal, intrusive and privacy-stealing ads on a site.

    • 69

      You can bypass the medium by not clicking on the ad, or by not supporting that particular advertiser. But your circumstances might change one day, and you might find a use for one of the advertised services. By using an ad blocker, you’re taking money out of the community to which you belong, because you’re giving yourself zero opportunity to ever use one of those services.

      Content isn’t free, and all web designers should start warming up to that notion and start learning ways that they can try to support the community, not hold it back.

      • 70

        In the blog economic content is free. Whether or not the creator makes money it’s free. Whether I watch/see/read the ad or not the content is still freely available; on the internet, on the radio, or where ever you placed your content for people to find it.

        Realize that blogs are not communities they are companies. Your blog taps into the web design community not the other way around. If your blog fails the community of people who found value in your blog will move on. Another blog will be erected in its stead.

      • 71

        I don’t have a problem with advertisements per se, however as soon as they are flash or they use tracking cookies to spy on my web browsing – yes, I object to that and yes I will block them.

        I choose what runs on my system. My browsers parses the HTML and CSS at my command. People need to stop thinking of websites as anything more than just a piece of code.

        • 72

          I know from first hand experience that ads can be dangerous for your hard earned computer.

      • 73

        I used to work for a marketing agency and I am even more aware now that most ads are scams, feeder sites and click through revenue. I never click on those things, and never will. I will continue to use ad blockers because what’s the point in seeing them if they will never be clicked?

      • 74

        Louis: “But your circumstances might change one day, and you might find a use for one of the advertised services. By using an ad blocker, you’re taking money out of the community to which you belong, because you’re giving yourself zero opportunity to ever use one of those services.”

        Have you heard of Yellow Pages and search engines? Your arguments really are not very logical.

  17. 75

    Yes and no.

    If you visit a website once, having an ad-blocker is not going to damage the site too much. If you keep revisiting the website, over and over again (A blog is a prime example) you probably like the website, you support the content, this is when you should hit “Disable on…” for example, on here, I’ve disabled ads, I’m always coming back, and by disabling my ad-blocker, I can support the website without spending my own money.

    Saying that, if I disable on one website, and then I’m suddenly hit by awful adverts everywhere, then they’ll probably just end up being blocked again.

  18. 76

    If adblockers were illegal, I wouldn’t surf the Web, for the same reasons I don’t watch network TV, or listen to commercial radio. It is just too unbearable.

    Furthermore, the products or services being advertised make me despair of humanity, and I refuse to let this crap pollute my brain.

    I’m perfectly willing to live with the consequences.

  19. 77

    I have nothing against ads, but when you enter, let’s say, a news website, and you find it full of ads that slow down your browser and useless scripts and a big pop-up ad, well that’s too much!

    I know some websites rely on ads to make money and this keeps them alive, and yes, plugins that block all banners should probably be banned, but we need something to keep us away from full-of-ads websites. Maybe something like WOT (web of trust) is the future.

    • 78

      That’s why there should be a balance. I like the idea of “Fusion ads” and “Ads via the Deck” because they’re elegant, non-intrusive, and often more targetted, but I’m not really sure if that model would work for all websites.

  20. 79

    Do you really think just be looking at those distracting ads I’d click on it? No… I don’t, I did not for years. So, why shouldn’t I block it? In front of TV I will walk away, get me a coffee, go to the toilet or I even zap away… I have the choice.
    However. You’re probably right, you are providing a service and when you feel like getting something back you have to invent a way to get paid. Ads don’t work? So, you’ll need another way… Easy as that.

    “because you probably wouldn’t even know about those blogs if they didn’t have ads on them”

    So, blogging is all about earning money? Right?

    • 80

      You’re right: sites need to find another non-intrusive way to monetize… and it can be done. I’ll give you two examples:

      1.) One blogger I follow writes books and does contract work. His blog is his way of advertising HIS work. He posts snippets from what he’s researching, discusses interesting things he discovers, etc. It informs people and as a result people might either buy on of his books (I have) or hire him.

      2.) Another blogger I follow puts a single textual ad that he himself writes, from one single advertiser per week into his blog and RSS feed. One ad. All day. One. Now… he writes good stuff so he charges $4000 per week for one exclusive advertiser per week and it’s always of a product he himself likes. I consider his ad almost a tip about a good product to check out, so I do.

      That is how to monetize without annoying users.

      Unsolicited content is annoying, period. Especially when that content is shallow, deceptive and ugly.

    • 81

      It’s not that blogging should be about money. If someone wants to blog for free, then let them do it. I have no problem with that.

      But if an advertiser wants to pay $1000 (or more) per month to support a web design blog, how can that be a bad thing? For the sacrifice of a sidebar full of ads, I think that’s a great trade off, and is great because it puts money into the community.

  21. 82

    I usually disable adblock on websites and blogs that have useful and related ads (except adsense) and not annoying. However, thanks for reminding me to disable the adblock for this site.

    Oh yeh, no mercy for websites that have popups and the in your way types of ads.

    You should get each post sponsored and show an informative and related types of ads, they won’t get blocked because it will be part of the content.

  22. 83

    If the current types of advertisements are blocked, ad companies will start looking for ads that can’t be blocked, such as in-video ads (which are a lot more annoying!).

    So basically, you’re only hurting yourself in the long run.

  23. 84

    Tim Burners-Lee

    June 14, 2010 5:11 am

    CTRL-F, freedom. Nothing said? Really?

    It seems Louis Lazaris supports technological fascism.
    And for what? $3 CPM?

    Seriously, Louis? “Ad Blockers Promote a Me-First Attitude“? That’s some serious f%$#ing dissonant spin right there. You should’ve been a propagandist, not a web designer. Or is that what you’re going for here?

    Worth repeating for all the ‘new rich’ media mavens without a clue:

    Advertisers pay for the *chance* to be seen – not for the guarantee that anyone will do anything with what they see. Forcing ads down peoples’ throats, instead of inviting them to take a look, is the best way of increasing resentment and turning people off to your products. We need to get out of the TV-oriented mindset of *forcing* ads onto people.

    • 85

      I couldn’t help but laugh at this comment — if not just for the misspelling of “Burners-Lee”.

      I agree with you 100% when you say that the TV-oriented mindset “forces” ads onto people. And the sad reality is we would not have TV today if they had not done that.

      In the same way, the web (as we know it) would essentially bust if there were no ads.

    • 86

      Technological fascism? Oh per-lease.

      Louis is absolutely correct regarding the me-first attitude of a lot of ad-block users. Is it *such* a chore to flick your eyeball to an ad for half a second while you enjoy the content that is being supplied to you for absolutely no expense. And I’m not buying into the “intrusion” argument either. I’ve never used an adblocker and the proportion of ads I encounter that are in-your-face are minimal. The ones that do use Attention Whore tactics will die out when the creators realise that pissing off users is not a great for conversion rates.

  24. 88

    I could do without opinion columns on smashing…

    • 89

      Well, at least they should rename it “trolling column”… This debate might be interesting to have, but this article was really written in the perfect way to start flamewars… :-/

      • 90

        Matti, there’s no way to write a strong opinion without it sounding the way you assume it sounds.

        The only people that think my post is starting a flame war are the ones that are flaming me. Every strong opinion starts a flame war. But it doesn’t have to. Just explain your side nicely and be done with it.

        Yes, it’s true — I clearly said that I thought people who use ad blockers are selfish, and that isn’t going to sit well with people. But there is no reason to use an ad blocker on design blogs. The ads are usually attractive, and non obtrusive, and the few that aren’t can be dealt with. Remember that this topic was “why web designers” shouldn’t use them, not “why internet surfers” shouldn’t use them. I have no problem with people using them on shady sites, but we don’t have to use them on design blogs.

  25. 91

    Benjamin "balupton" Lupton

    June 14, 2010 5:14 am

    “Ad Blockers Should Be Banned (for Quality Blogs)

    As a community, we should take a stand against any person or blog that promotes the use of plugins or other methods that effectively take money out of the pockets of the very people who are willing to put money into our community.”

    This entire article sounds just like the argument “Digital music hinders music sales”. Don’t complain that people don’t like ads, work around it, figure out better ways. Such as subscriptions, premium content, writing a book, whatever. But you have no right to tell me what I can and can’t do. And I seriously can’t believe you think you’re loosing money from ad blockers, I hate ads, it’s that simple, but I still bought your book, or perhaps I should ban that… There’s some food for thought.

    Accept change, grow with it, or be left behind.

    • 92

      Vitaly Friedman (Smashing Editorial)

      June 14, 2010 5:39 am

      Benjami, I do not agree. The article isn’t written by Smashing Editorial team, but by Louis Lazaris and reflects his personal opinion. It is nowhere mentioned that we think we are losing money from ad blockers.

      And thanks for supporting us by buying our book, I hope it contains some useful information for you!

      • 93

        This is your website. Don’t post an article you don’t fully support, agree with and stand behind. This wasn’t some little personal opinion buried within a larger article. You need to take responsibility for your content.

        This whole article is nonconstructive, whiney vitriol and if it had passed over my desk (yes, I have been an editor) it would have been cut immediately. Your readers need forward-thinking, constructive solutions.

        • 94

          Vitaly Friedman (Smashing Editorial)

          June 14, 2010 5:53 am

          Patrick, I don’t agree with you. Why shouldn’t we post an article that we don’t fully support or agree with? Our opinions can be wrong just as anybody else’s. We don’t have a political agenda that we need to follow through and I think it would be wrong to dismiss a well-constructed, thought-provoking, argumentative article only if it doesn’t fit my personal opinion. Don’t you think?

          Also, please notice that this post is an article from our series of “opinion columns,” in which we give people in the Web design community a platform to raise their voice and present their opinion on something they feel strongly about to the community. The content in this series is not in any way influenced by the Smashing Magazine team. If you want to publish your article in this series, please send us your thoughts and we will get back to you.

          • 95

            Maybe you are posting stuff like this to get people to see more ads? Look, I don’t use an ad blocker, but I also don’t think as a designer/developer I’m required not to use one. That is like saying someone who works in Radio is required to listen to all the commercials. The fact of the matter is blogs don’t take any time to make sure their ads are worth reading or clicking. They just find whatever everyone else is using or what ever service will offer the highest click-thru rate. The reason most people use Ad blockers is because most blogs frivolously post them for the sole sake of making money. Yes, a blog should be able to generate revenue and nothing is free, but you also should understand your audience.

            As a designer/developer I am even more critical of an ad online. Just like someone who makes movies is critical over how a movie was produced. If it’s the same “Free Web Hosting for 12 months” or “PSD to XHTML” or “EASY Flash Sites” then you aren’t serving me as a user with those ads. I don’t need any of those services and those are the only ads I am ever served. In fact…I just installed Ad Block after looking at your ads and reminding myself of how much I really don’t need any of these services.

          • 96

            Vitaly Friedman (Smashing Editorial)

            June 14, 2010 6:56 am

            I think it’s more complicated than that. It’s not reasonable to compare an average small blog with a huge TV channel or radio station. Even if thousands of TV viewers turn off the TV during the advertisements, a large portion will still see them. If a large portion of a small blog visitors have ad blockers, it may have a crucial effect for the blogger who will not be able to support the site.

            We are talking about different dimensions here.

          • 97

            As you mentioned radio ads it struck me: TV ads IN BETWEEN MOVIES! It’s the most hateable thing ever invented in entertainment media. It totally destroys the atmosphere a director wants to deliver to the audience. Totally. On websites it’s more or less the same. I once read an article on a favorite news page of mine, using FF without AdBlock on a friends computer, which had a magenta colored ad FLASHING in my very eye with a fixed; top; css behind it. You just cannot concentrate on content. The content gets outright worthless. Or do you know those “5 seconds to score a goal by clicking the ball” – ads?
            I mean how can anyone reasonable, especially designers, advise against adblockers?

          • 98


            Movies make money from admission fees and rentals. Websites do not (for the most part). Comparing movies to websites is ludicrous. How is a website going to make money if not for ads?

            And yes, I agree there shouldn’t be stupid pointless ads on any website, but this article is specifically dealing with ads within the design community. If you want to support the community, don’t use ad blockers, it’s that simple.

          • 99

            @ Louis
            I am by no means comparing economic models of websites and TV shows or movies. That would be – just as you said – ludicrous. But you CAN very well compare the annoyance the Ads on those media bring. I mean, did you ever try to read a blogpost with an animated ad floating somewhere? Even no matter what color scheme is used (doesn’t have to be super annoying magenta), it will diminish your reading expierience significantly.

            Please try to read some of the other contrary postings again, because you are obviously forgetting a lot of pros and cons when you say “If you want to support the community, don’t use adblocks”, because it’s not that simple. If it were that simple, there wouldn’t be a bunch of guys discussing this whole matter in endless postings ;)

        • 100
        • 101

          Are you kidding Patrick? They _should_ post articles of all types of opinions, not just opinions that they agree with.

          • 102

            Yes, that’s true, but they should still take quality content. This seems to have been written only for the sake of starting a flamewar (which it has quite succeeded to, seeing the number of comments), and therefore we might actually wonder whether the goal was to increase pageviews or not… :-/

            I mean, come on, take a look at the headers: “Ad Blockers Promote a Me-First Attitude”, “Ad Blockers Make the Web Less Real”, “Ad Blockers Hinder the Community”… I call this trolling. It’s the first article published by SM I didn’t read in whole for it was so poorly written and unbalanced.

          • 103


            So you admit that you’ve posted *repeated* and borderline-abusive comments on this article, even though you didn’t actually read it all?

            And you’re calling *me* a troll? Is this a practical joke? Mom, is that you? :)

        • 104

          Patrick, congratulations, you’ll make a good dictator. A magazine that is open, transparent and neutral is the one I’d read. It’s no wonder you’re no longer an editor.

          Adblockers are there for a reason, and as long as the reason is there (or when Patrick comes into power and rule otherwise) it will always exist. The people who don’t find ads obtrusive will not use adblockers even if this article is not published and the people who hate ads passionately will not change their minds.

          I’m a marketer and I love a good ad. Sure everyone complains about it but the truth is simple – ads are profitable to companies. If they are not, they would have stopped advertising long ago. Don’t use adblockers if you don’t want ads – try stop buying the products of ads you come across.

          Ask 100 people if they like ads or not and 99 will say no. Yet most of them buy something because of an ad they saw. Accept it or not, ads work in your subconscious mind, not your conscious one. So what if you don’t like it? Clever marketers will still make money off the ads.

          This debate has long been discussed in the marketing community and conclusion is this – create ads in the guise of content if you don’t want to piss off your viewers. Continue the traditional direct marketing if you want to make money and don’t mind pissing some of your viewers off.

          Because guess what? At the end of the day, people who are looking for TVs find ads for TVs interesting while people who don’t, find them annoying.

          • 105

            Well, beyond your half-Godwin point (you compared Patrick only to a generic dictator, not a particular one…), I think you should read what the author has himself written: ” because of the incredible speed with which such ideas can be spread, the mere discussion of ads being too intrusive on web design blogs could cause a serious problem in a presently-thriving community”. In my book, repressing thoughts is much closer to dictatorship than saying that responsibility should be taken by an editor… “The mere discussion”, really?!

          • 106

            Matti, the point of my comment is not to compare Patrick to a dictator – so why would I take the time to delve deeper.

            And please, read my comment before replying – I never said I agree with the author. The opinion expressed here is the author’s, not Smashing Magazine’s (at least that’s what they say) and I only said a magazine that is open is far better than one that is closed. I support Smashing Magazine for publishing it.

            I agree the author shouldn’t have said what he said – it makes him look like the Catholic church when they were in power – but that doesn’t make Patrick right either.

            The point of my comment is this: Use adblockers all you want, ads will always make money. You’re hurting the publishers, the guys who gave you the content you want, for free. You’re in no way hurting the advertisers, the guys whose ads you hate so passionately.

    • 107

      I’m sorry but sites do have a right to tell you what you can and can’t do, its usually contained in a ‘terms of use’ documents, if a site decides that not blocking their ads is a condition of use and you breach the contract they could very easily ban you/block your IP. Who are you gonna cry to then?

      Also explain how a site is to sell books without advertising them.

      Any designer that thinks blocking ads is acceptable doesn’t understand the industry enough to be a decent designer.

      • 108

        Well, if a site forces me to view ads than I will be more than happy to let them block my IP – I will not contribute to their traffic in any case..

    • 109

      Benjamin, go look at some statistics. It is a known fact that since the advent of “digital music sales”, revenue in the music industry has been on a steady decline. That’s not a good thing for the music industry. Music is not free to produce, but people want to just get it for free without any regard for the musicians that worked hard to produce it.

      The same applies to web design blogs. If we disable ads, then we’re basically saying that we want all content for free, without giving anything back to the people who worked hard and spent their time and money to produce it.

      • 110

        Louis, your statistics for the music industry don’t tell the whole story. Record labels refusal to adapt to the times and develop a business model that embraced digital music led to their decline more than anything. Meanwhile, individual musicians have always (with a few super-famous band exceptions) made the majority of their money from concert ticket sales. Digital music and the internet have only increased their exposure and helped them sell tickets.

        Maybe design blogs should learn from that example. If users are rejecting ads and they are no longer a viable means of revenue then maybe it is time to develop a new business model that doesn’t rely on ads.

        Also, not everyone who blocks ads are demanding free content. Several people have listed valid concerns with ads in these comments. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t support the blog by other means if possible.

        • 111

          Agreed, but I don’t see any reason to change the current model. People should just accept ads, and allow the design blogs to work on more important things related to content. Instead, we’re causing them to rethink their entire revenue model. And for what? For individual selfishness and an “everything should be free” attitude that does not belong in the current digital world.

          • 112

            Louis: that’s the way the world works.

            The environment constantly changes, you have two choices; evolve or die.

            Sounds like you want to sit in denial whilst everyone else worth a damn evolves away from you.

            Rock on, along with your “develop first for the broken browsers” concept.

            Smashing Editors; while you should post articles that you don’t completely agree with, I’d suggest finding writers to write on tech issues who aren’t QUITE such transparently ignorant Luddites.

          • 113

            > “People should just accept ads”

            You’re kidding, right? Tell me, why exactly should people just accept ads? Because you claim there’s no other way to make revenue? Because it would be what, easier? So that no one needs to actually use their heads and think about new business models to adapt to the ever-changing world? What a lazy attitude is this?

            > “For individual selfishness and an “everything should be free” attitude that does not belong in the current digital world.”

            Says who? Are you to decide what belongs in the current (digital) world and what doesn’t? I’m sorry, but this is one big presumptuous statement – and another short-sighted one as well.
            The users decide what attitude dominates the web, that’s the great thing about the internet: It’s one of the biggest democracies. It has it’s flaws, sure. But the people still decide for themselves what they’re willing to do and what they’re not willing to do.

            Selfishness is indeed the key but it’s as much a bad as it’s a good thing: Everyone is selfish, that’s a principle of nature and to some degree even vital (apart from the fact that it’s one of the basic aspects of capitalism) so neglecting that is ignorant. Wishful thinking doesn’t help here and as much as I’d wish that the world would be a lot less selfish in general, appealing to webdesigners to switch off their ad-blockers is not the point where you will change the world, not even the relatively small design world.

            For them to not act selfish, you need to give people an alternative, they need reason to take a step back and act altruistic. Just claiming that otherwise design blogs will die, money is “taken out of the system” and other unforeseeable consequences is definitely not the way and doesn’t offer reason to the people.

          • 114

            > I don’t see any reason to change the current model.
            > People should just accept ads
            Well, really, I’m sorry I’m getting to nonconstructive comments, but you should go work to the RIAA… What are you going to do next, track people using adblockers and fine them?!?

            > allow the design blogs to work on more important things related to content.
            Well, I really think you’re the one being selfish, from your designer point-of-view!! You just want to not have to bother with marketing issues, and *you* are being the lazy one that is frustrated by the fact that you don’t get what you consider to be enough money from your ads.

            > For individual selfishness and an “everything should be free” attitude that does not belong in the current digital world.
            Well, it actually does totally belong. You have to face it: people expect most of the content to be free on the internet. Because most actually is! And “the end of content” has yet to come… Some industries try to adapt (think press with the iPad and the other coming readers, think high-quality content with subscriptions, think the iTunes Store), and some just complain (think big music labels) and try more and more repressive strategies that always get defeated (think big software, especially game, companies). And you seem to belong to the second category, even though you claim to defend “the design community”. Come on, what you’re talking about is not “money that is in the community”, it’s just money for the editor!

  26. 115

    Hadn’t actually thought about disabling adblock plus on certain websites, so might just limit it to flashblock in some cases now

    That said, no way I’m getting rid of adblocking completely. There are too many websites with layout breaking adds which disrupt the browsing experience for that to make any sense

  27. 116


    Ads on web pages (and elsewhere) are a necessary evil but the way they are used on many websites goes beyond what should be acceptable.

    I use Adblock Plus and for those site I access regularly I add an exception so I can see the ads. Not that this helps the site any because I don’t click on ads, any more than TV ads affect my purchasing decisions.

    Rather than blame site visitors for using Ad-blockers why not design your site so that the ads are not so inconvienient and annoying as to require blocking?

    Ask your users who register for the site to whitelist the site; explain why and what the benifits to the site and user (if any) are.



  28. 117

    I have no problem seeing ads, but when a site is loaded with 10+ flash banners, 3+ of which are rather large or have play-after-load-sound. I draw the line.
    JavaScript – Modial ads are a show-stopper for me as well.

    I use flashblock, but no adblocking other than that.
    If the ads were images/simple non-high-resource-demanding JavaScript animations the reason for using an adblocker would be gone for most people.

  29. 118

    People who use ad blockers are selfish and are killing the web. Simple.

    Detect Ad Block, redirect them to something nasty.

    Or, just obscure your article and show it using the same script as your ads. That way, no ads = no article.

    • 119

      Interesting, if you can “detect Ad-block,” couldn’t you just redirect to a subscription page with a link saying something like:

      “Content is generally ad-supported, since you have Ad-block on, you can access this content for $X for (the article, one day, one week, one month, etc), or you can click here to return to the content page with ads turned on. Thank you!”

      Seems like that would then *remind* people that nothing is free, you either pay to see the content, or the advertiser pays for you to see the content (along with their ad). Either way the content provider is getting paid, and the content viewer can get access to the content, and the advertiser gets what they want.

      It’s pay-per-view right? Someone is paying for you to view content, you can pay for it if you like, or an advertiser can pay for you to view it as long as you are able to view their ad. Seems fair to me. I’m not a huge fan of ads, but I am also not a huge fan of paying for content, because of this reason…if I were to pay for content I would probably not pay for as many sites as I visit now. If I were paying $20/month for each site I visit, how many sites do you think I would subscribe to? Their content better be the highest quality, and if there was a site that had that great content, I would consider paying for it. But when times are tight (kind of like now), I am happy that I have access to content, in exchange for a few ads that allow me to see much more content than if I had to pay $X/month.

      Also, there is a lot of content on websites that I read, that I definitely would not want to pay for, or would read if it wasn’t free. If I had to pay for everything I wouldn’t read as much, which would hurt the numbers of a website too, as well as my knowledge.

      Think about the last time you bought a book, did you pick it up and read the description before you bought it? Did a friend recommend it? Did you read part of it to see if it piqued your interest? And how many books did you look at and put back on the shelf? Imagine if books were ad supported and you could read whatever book you wanted with a few ads in it (granted you could use the library, but omitting that)? Would you read more or less books? Would you be more likely to take more books home or less?

      • 120

        Andy, I really like the solution you mentioned at the beginning of your comment. Sounds reasonable and realistic to me.

        • 121


          You might want to take a step back and take a look at the greater picture: The internet currently works in a specific manner and most certainly will continue to do so: A server gives a package of information to the client and what that client does with the information is in no way controllable by the server. I don’t know if it’s technically possible at the moment to recognize if a client uses an ad-blocker but even if: Once site administrators start to try to detect ad-blockers and redirect the visitors requests, ad-blockers will evolve and act completely transparent (if they’re not already doing that), so to the server it will look like the information / ad will be downloaded but it still might not be displayed.

          The absolutely only way to be sure that ads will be displayed is by controlling every browser out there. Comparable to what TV stations try with all the HD encryption and guidelines for receivers to not allow skipping of ads. Since this is the internet though and we’re not talking about physical objects, all attempts to control information flow will ultimately fail.

          Concerning the appeal to turn off ad-blockers (on (web-) design related sites or in general): You’re looking at the visitors in their isolated role as webdesigners or the like and forget that they’re also and in every aspect simple users. Humans, to put it more general. Even in their “job-role” they still have certain needs and one of these needs is simplicity. I don’t want to start on quoting all the usability aspects also involved in disrupting advertising, attention grabbing banners, etc. but ignoring these issues in your appeal is short-sighted and doesn’t address the underlying problem: Ads in the current form and amount are the problem, not the blocking or the attitude of the visitors.

          You can appeal as much as you want to: The users are free and they will act as they prefer and how it fits them best. You cannot change that fact and bitching about it won’t change anything. It would’ve been alot more constructive if you had spent your time and thoughts on how to improve advertising in the digital age and medium so that people *want* to see the advertising or at least not become irritated by them.

          • 122

            Tv ads are problematic, radio ads are problematic, paid reviews are problematic, infomercials are problematic, movie stars driving cars that they’re paid to drive is problematic, Michael Jordan advertising McDonalds to children is problematic (like he needed another million??)… But that doesn’t mean those things aren’t good revenue models.

            We dislike all advertising, because we don’t want to “pay” for anything. But if we’re realistic and want to support our community, we will not encourage things that take money out of the pockets of web designers.

          • 123

            Since there seems to be a maximum comment depth, I can’t directly reply so here’s my workaround / reply to you.

            Unfortunately you seem to miss my point alltogether or choose to ignore it. I never said advertising itself is the problem, it’s not. But advertising on the web in the current form is. It’s visual spam at it’s best and people avoid it for good reasons. Expecting them to disregard these reasons and (again) getting exposed to ads which interfere with their browsing experience is utterly ignorant and frankly – unbelievably shortsighted.

            I’ve not yet once read a response where you touch the usability issue, which in combination with the “article” makes a very unreflected impression.

            Besides, you might want to refrain from saying things like “we will not encourage things that take money out of the pockets of web designers” – no one using an ad-blocker actually takes anyones money away so these remarks are just plain FUD and don’t suit your argumentation well. Also in this case, the abstract group of “we” doesn’t really exist in this context and leaves the false impression that you speak for a significant / predominant amount of people.
            Which you don’t, seeing all the negative and often alot more substantiated reactions to your article. So please, get back to the facts and try to actually cope with the criticism instead of picking only points that help your view.

          • 124

            Peter, the problem is, you expect things to “evolve”, but you don’t realize that sometimes that’s not necessary. All that’s necessary is that we have a cooperative attitude with our industry, and our business models will work. We won’t have to force new models that cause financial issues and require rethinking that would essentially blur the line between what’s an ad and what’s not.

            Of course I’m concerned about usability. This article did not purport to consider every possible factor in the stated opinion. As I’ve said in so many other comments on this and other articles: There’s no way I could possibly write an opinion that takes into account every possible angle related.

            Web design adverts are, for the most part, very elegant and non-intrusive. Some sites overdo it. That’s going to happen. But the trade off is worth it *in my opinion*.

            I’m sorry that you don’t agree, so let’s just agree to disagree. This is an important topic that I feel needs to be discussed. That’s why I wrote it.

            And if you want to know why there’s so much “negative” reaction to the article, just take a look at the poll results at the top of the comments: Almost half the people that took the poll use ad blocker software. Not to mention that most comments on controversial topics will usually be those with opposing views.

            Now, I have a question: Since you think that ads in the current form on the web are the problem, then what’s the solution? I see lots of people saying the same thing as you.. but not one of them has proposed a viable solution. All they’ve said is “evolve” (and similar). That’s not a solution. That’s just theory. As far as I’m concerned, my solution stands as the best one. But I’m sure you’ll disagree. :)

          • 125

            > Peter, the problem is, you expect things to “evolve”

            Of course I do. And that is not “the problem”, that is how the world works. Plain and simple.
            And your statement about that it would sometimes be unnecessary to evolve things is a very shallow attempt to justify your reactionary attitude.
            Some things, processes or principles might have used their full potential after some iterations during human evolution. A knife maybe. Or the concept of drinking water to survive. Breathing in general. But complex things like the economical principles of rewarding “free” content via advertising on the most elaborate and complex machine human kind has ever built by appealing to a very tiny subcommunity of the users of this machine is NOT something set in stone and is certainly NOT something that is just perfect and doesn’t need evolution. It’s like saying “Hey, our cars drive, why change the way they drive and how they function?”. Whoops, air pollution, global warming, limited resources. Now what?

            >There’s no way I could possibly write an opinion that takes into account every possible angle related.

            Oh, you can. At least you can try. But you didn’t, and that’s why hiding behind the “I’m sorry mum, I couldn’t possibly think of any other ways to kill the fly other than setting the whole house on fire”-argument just won’t work. No one will buy it and that certainly includes me.

            You really think your article holds the best solution? All it needs to prevent the ominous fear-driven apocalyptic future you try to paint? While leaving out some of the main aspects which caused todays situation, which you even admit?

            If you cannot answer all of these questions with only a clear and definitive NO, then we don’t need to “agree to disagree” (which – in my humble opinion – is one of the stupidest things to say in a discussion, you either agree or disagree. If you fail to even recognize simple things like that and explicitly need to mention to agree on that, you have a serious problem), we can just stop talking.

            Besides, I never asked why there were so many negative comments on your article, so you don’t need to explain it to me. You should probably rather spend your time on thinking WHY so many people use ad-blockers and WHY your article maybe, only maybe, does not hold the “solution”.

            Concerning your question about my “theory”: Yes, that is not a solution. In contrast to you, I don’t claim to have one if – in fact – I don’t. And I won’t come up with one or even bother thinking about one, at least not in detail. Why? Because it’s not my problem. I don’t run a project that relies on a broken business plan, I just can’t take the whining and bitching about how said plan doesn’t work.
            It’s not my responsibility as a user / visitor / webdesigner / whatever to come up with a solution for *your* problem and it neither is the responsibility of the other commenters and critics. What do you expect? A shiny, pre-chewed answer on a silver tablet just because you’re too lazy to think about one?
            Should we, the “customers” tell the advertisers how to best squeeze money out of us? That is their and / or your responsibility because it’s *you* and *them* who want’s to survive. That’s business and – as cruel as it is – the best survive. After all your reactions I’m sure, you’re not one of them.

            >But I’m sure you’ll disagree.

            You must be a genius.

            I won’t react to the rest of your comment because otherwise I’d just unnecessarily repeat myself.

  30. 126

    I find it funny that this is posted on Smashing.

    How about, allow comment links since they really helped (if not completely enabled) this and other blogs to gain in popularity. Now you’re too good to allow them, that’s not hypocritical or anything…

    • 127

      Vitaly Friedman (Smashing Editorial)

      June 14, 2010 5:41 am

      Jestep, removing URL field was a necessary move for us, because the amount of spam was unberable. Over 75% of comments were published only for the sake of promoting own services.


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