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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. our upcoming SmashingConf London, dedicated to all things web performance.

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.

You may want to take a look at the following related posts:

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 ABC5 and the Discovery Channel6 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 burst7 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” page8 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

Do you use an ad blocker?14customer surveys15

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

      Andrew Pryde

      June 14, 2010 6:25 am

      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

      Cosmin Negoita

      June 14, 2010 7:36 am

      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

      Gerd Wippich

      June 14, 2010 11:53 am

      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

    Muhammad Habib

    June 14, 2010 4:57 am

    “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


    June 14, 2010 5:03 am

    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

      Jamie Stanton

      June 15, 2010 12:14 am

      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

        Tyler Walters

        June 14, 2010 8:25 pm

        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

    Simon Zerafa

    June 14, 2010 5:19 am


    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.

  31. 128

    What a ********. If blog cannot afford to survive without annoying ads: let it die. Smashing magazine including.
    Author even goes as far as to accuse users with ad blockers having “me first” attitude.
    You know what? Users must come first. If you are annoying them with the ads they are not going to click anyway, it’s their right to block whatever they want.
    Disgusting article.

    • 129

      You are a selfish *****.

      How many blogs/magazine sites do you think could honestly survive without any revenue source?

      Like I say, if every blog just redirected people like running ad blocker back to google then you then you’d soon find out how much you currently get for free because it’s ad funded.

      Disgusting comment.

    • 130

      The web is such an annoying place. The facts bespoken by the author are true: You are selfish. You don’t give back anything to anyone, but you want everbody else to give you everything for free – even less than free. Has anybody in this whole crowd any idea how to make real money, besides the 399$ you get for a whole website package? Grow up, people need to eat. And by that I don’t mean feeds.

    • 131

      your saying make money other ways??? its still going to take the users time, if not more then just seeing an ad, we may have to start paying for content, or always signing up… blah

      I think cross promoting blogs and products is great, i would not force people to stop using ad blockers but i think it a good think to think about the impact on blogs, and anyone who enjoys the mountains of content here should remember that if people don’t make money some how then we are going to lose content.

      Or small sites will died and big sites will live.

      If movies didn’t make any more we would not have blockbuster. IMHO

  32. 132

    Ben Everard

    June 14, 2010 5:28 am

    So I read half of the replies before scrolling down to give my two cents…

    I rarely use an ad blocker, which by definition means I have used it at least once or twice… but to be fair that was only for research purposes.

    I cannot stand obtrusive advertisements, on some popular websites like YouTube I’ll surf on, close that annoying ad that covers 1/4 of the video and rant about it on Twitter. For less important websites I’ll just stop using them, great example is, try and tell me why you wouldn’t expect a user to block the adverts on this page?

    I’d hate to think what their bounce rate bust be, at a glance I cannot determine what is content and what is an advert!

    I am a regular on Stack Overflow, and love how they do their advertising, not obtrusive, relevant to the content… and gun to my head I frequently visit the various stuff they advertise.

    But, if a web designer / developer were to create a website where the user felt the adverts were excessively obtrusive then they deserve to have their adverts blocked. It’s got to be our job to make sure that any adverts are consistent with the design and they don’t subtract from the user experience.

    In my mind it all boils down to this, if your users use an ad blocker because your website is such a bastard to use, you’ve only got yourself to blame. If you users are using ad blocker even though your website is super fantastic then that’s life.

    I’ll be blogging about this baby soon :-)

  33. 133

    Joe Stevens

    June 14, 2010 5:28 am

    I think ad blocking is wrong, nothing is free and if your are visiting a website the least you can do is not get in the way of them making money.
    However I think Publishers need to be more responsible about the ads they place and how many they place. One thing I love about the Deck is that they only allow advertisers that advertise products they have actually used. When I see a Deck ad I know the product is quality because it wouldn’t be there if it weren’t. Deck ads are curated and well targeted because of that I think Deck ads are the only ads I ever click on. More publishers should follow that model.
    Do you really need to have 13 ads on your page? I can’t imagine who that is useful for. I’m sure readers ignore them because there are so many so they must be as useless to advertisers as they are to readers.
    Why not pick one or two advertisers, let them have bigger ads and charge them more. If the advertisers are too silly to recognize the value of being one of the few then one of the many then its probably better you don’t deal with them anyway.

  34. 134

    From many years of browsingI learned to totaly ignore any kind of banners on page. I simply don’t see them and look only for content. Only popups are annoying.

    About adds on a designer blog – I find that totaly out of style. A good web designer is already paid enough from his clients – putting adds on my blog would be a thing I would do only in case I would stop being a web designer or if I would be money greedy. It is like saying you are free to spray over my new grafitti artwork with your “F*ck clean wall” spam.

    You say designers are loosing money since people block the adds? A designer is supposed to make money by designing – not by advertising. You should rather say that add blockers are hurting your home business…

  35. 135

    Chaim Chaikin

    June 14, 2010 5:30 am

    I don’t use an ad blocker because I believe in most cases that seeing the ads is like a form of payment for viewing whatever content you happen to view.

    However I am not a fan of adverts than try to trick you (by pretending to be Facebook or some other service) or outright lie to you (You have won a million dollars for being the 342 982 123 person on the site), nor of ads that irritate you to get your attention (I didn’t ask for that music). It’s a pity there’s no annoying-ads blocker. Or maybe there is?

  36. 136

    Is this post real? Honestly, it’s like cigarette companies saying we should stop whining about our health and accept all that 3rd party smoke blowing in our faces because we should think of all those poor people in the factories who make the cigarettes.

    “But unfortunately, not everyone gets this”. Thanks for insulting your audience. I do get this whole ad thing but I don’t think you have a clue that when people are paying for their connection, whether through broadband or a 3G connection they have a right to choose what to download and what not to download. You might not like it but if they choose to block your cheesy ads that all look the same anyway then you should just accept that and adapt.

    Seems like this post is about smashing magazine growing too big, not being able to support itself. You’re getting desperate so you thought you’d insult your audience a bit to make them do something for you. Sad thing is I actually bought your book. No, it wasn’t from your ad, it was because you mentioned it in a post.

    I really feel like installing an ad-blocker just so I don’t get all these cheesy ads from your site in my face all the time.

    • 137

      Vitaly Friedman (Smashing Editorial)

      June 14, 2010 5:45 am

      Richard, thank you for your comment. I agree with you. Using ad-Blockers certainly makes sense if you are on 3G connection, and I completely support you. However, I am not sure why it is necessary on broadband connection, too. Many blogs wouldn’t even exist without ads, so seeing their ads makes them keep the site alive. And I think that deserve the suppport of the design community, don’t you think?

      And, by the way, 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 or we are not able to support the site. However, thanks for supporting us by buying our book, I hope it contains some useful information for you!

      • 138

        Hi Vitaly, I believe these opinion columns are a bit confusing because I saw the article in my RSS reader and I thought these were the opinions of Smashing magazine which seemed a bit strong and extreme. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking this.

        Definitely want to support a good site. I bought the book because I wanted your great content in an easy to read format. Have you considered charging a small monthly fee to download pdf copies of articles? I’d love to be able to archive them like that.

        The flip side of the ad argument is that people who use ad-blockers tend to be immune to ads and don’t click them/ignore them so technically a site owner saying users should disable ad-blockers mean they are just taking money from an ad-provider without any benefit for the ad provider.

      • 139

        Anthony DiSanti

        June 14, 2010 2:08 pm

        You keep mentioning in all your comments that this article doesn’t reflect your opinion, but then you’re actively replying in the comments reinforcing the opinion presented in the post.

        “Many blogs wouldn’t even exist without ads, so seeing their ads makes them keep the site alive. And I think that deserve the suppport of the design community, don’t you think?”

        That is a clear statement of opinion. If you agree with the post, why do you keep denying the fact. You chose to publish an editorial that you agree with, embrace the fact. Using an editorial to present a controversial argument and then passively defending it amongst your readers is clearly not being appreciated by the community.

        • 140

          Vitaly (and Smashing Magazine) never said that he (or they) disagrees with the article. The disclaimer at the top simply states that Smashing Magazine was not responsible for instigating this topic idea.

          I wrote this article for my own website about 3 or 4 weeks ago. I was going to publish it at that time, but I thought I’d mention it to Vitaly and see if he would be interested in publishing it. He agreed to publish it, so I did not publish it on my website.

          The entire article is unedited and uninfluenced by Smashing Magazine (except for the words “for quality blogs” that appear in parentheses in the final heading — which I don’t have a problem with). Their only influence was publishing it.

          • 141

            It’s incredible, the more you write, the less you seem to be able to write something that’s not irritating… Sorry, but your article was already really bad, and your answers to comments are never answering actual points made by commenters.

            > Their only influence was publishing it.
            Yes, well, that’s the problem! They can put a disclaimer saying they did not write it, but they are still *publishing* it, aren’t they? If I write an article saying that all designers are lazy dickheads and that they should be sent to working camps for education, would this get published with a small disclaimer at the top? No, because SM still endorses content when it publishes it.

            Well, you’re saying in your article that people using adblockers are selfish and don’t understand anything about the web. That’s being published, so SM still somehow endorses it. And now, every time a commenter is irritated and say (s)he bought their book and now regrets it, they come in and insist on the fact they didn’t write the article, but still don’t deny its content. To me, that’s exactly what Anthony DiSanti has described (“Using an editorial to present a controversial argument and then passively defending it amongst your readers”).

            “Their only influence was publishing it”, come on… -_-

          • 142

            The standards you’re setting for SM are not realistic. Lots of newspapers and magazines publish opinion pieces that deal with sensitive topics that readers disagree with. It’s common. I really don’ t see what you’re getting upset about.

            You disagree with my view: Fine. Let’s discuss it rationally and move on if we can’t agree.

    • 143

      Joe Stevens

      June 14, 2010 5:45 am

      “I don’t think you have a clue that when people are paying for their connection”
      What about the cost that Publishers pay for hosting the content you are downloading, the cost of bandwidth, and the cost of producing that content.
      Is it right for a person to download that stuff while depriving the publisher of the revenue that helps pay for these things.
      If someone wants to “choose” to avoid sites that display ads then thats fair, however it is not fair to visit these sites and block them from profiting.

      • 144

        Oh… so you give every street artist a dollar just because he’s there? Either you have a reason to host your stuff or not, it’s not the visitors “responsibility” to keep everything alive.
        If you want something to live, you will support it. I will not even then switch off Adblock, but search for other ways to support. For example: Micropayments are getting more and more popular. I for once do buy developers a certain “beer”, or pay for themes I want to use when developing new sites.

        Another thing worth mentioning: Sometimes we forget how few we are, compared to the masses out there who barely know how to switch on their computer. Adblockers will have no effect on our share of the market, money from ads this is, unless they would eg. be preinstalled on IE10 or Safari.

        • 145

          Joe Stevens

          June 14, 2010 7:19 am

          I don’t give every street performer I see a dollar but I also don’t kick their donation signs over. If I see a street performer everyday and I like his stuff I will give him a dollar or two.

          I’m not a big fan of sites having to solicit donations to stay afloat unless they choose not to show ads and go that route. If they choose ads as their business model and I choose to go to their website an use their business then I do not think its fair or me to block it when I can simply ignore the ads. If I ignore the ads they still get the impressions, if I block them they don’t.

          Its not so much responsibility as it is fairness to publishers and an understanding that ads make the world’s economy go round.
          If there were no ads less people would buy things they didn’t need which would put most of us out of jobs because more jobs are supported by people buying things they don’t need then things that they do.

          If a publisher goes overboard with ads I simply stop using their site. That way I am not costing them any money. I think that approach is fairer then visiting a site, using their resources without providing anything in return.

          • 146

            Sometimes you have to use a site, but you still hate the ads. Well… your approach is more than fair. It’s actually like giving every streetperformer a dollar. The case is, that even with adblocker active, i still provide the site-host with valuable data. He has my visit logged in google analytics, and sites like it, to show to his advertiser. This way he gets more money out of people who don’t activate adblock, either because they can’t or maybe don’t know how, or because they are benefactors like you.

    • 147

      Marc-André Boivin

      June 14, 2010 12:28 pm

      Richard, i totally agree with you, this article is really an insult . You can’t just ask to people to take pity of annoucers because they can’t find new ways to reach their public than imposing things. Microsoft had the same way of doing things (not listening their users ) and we see the result. And that’s why TV is dying too. You can’t just blame users. I pay enough for licence and upgrade, for type, for pictures, for my connection, for my computer (for everything) so i think i do right. And more, theses ads don’t help usability, navigation and design of any websites… and that’s why we’re paid.

      «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.»

      I think it’s a shame that a web designer said this.

      Ridiculous article…..

      • 148


        The next time you walk into a sandwich shop, tell them it’s insulting that they expect you to pay for that sandwich.

        It’s the same with design blogs. Nothing is free, and we shouldn’t expect it to be, otherwise we will negatively impact our community.

        • 149

          Stop comparing physical objects to information / data. There is no “real world” equivalent to pure information and the process of being able to copy information without quality loss.

          It’s the same reason why you cannot “steal” or even “consume” digital content, be it music, movies or design blogs.

        • 150

          Same thing as Peter: you’re having the same ridiculous arguments as the music industry counting every illegal download as a loss… People reading your content aren’t stealing from you!! Come on, how much disrespect do you give your users, thinking they are taking money away from you when they’re reading what you’ve written?! If you don’t want people to be able to freely access your content, just make it accessible only through subscription, and stop whining around.

          And also, PLEASE, stop pretending you’re defending the “community” when you see how many people here disagree with you…

        • 151

          Users don’t owe the content providers anything. I block ads because they’re annoying, and if this or any other site doesn’t want me viewing their content for free with no strings attached, they’ll go ahead and block adblock users or require that I download advertisement software that bypasses adblocking, etc. at which point I’d have absolutely no interest. They made the business decision to pay for server/bandwidth, domain, and with their own time to create content they have offered to everyone for free. They’re hoping that it will pay off and people who are attracted to the free content end up clicking some ads and buying things, but that’s a financial risk they’ve taken. If it does not pay off for them, they either need to rethink their business or stop spending so much time and money on something that’s bleeding them financially apparently.

          They’ve already offered this content for free in the hopes that a percentage of users will end up purchasing something from advertisers. That’s their decision. It’s not the user’s responsibility even in the slightest to make sure this business decision is successful.

          Eagerly awaiting a follow-up article demanding that if you click on an ad you make sure to actually buy something from the advertiser, because the advertiser spent the time and money to make that advertisement and pay for ad space somewhere! After all, if someone spent time or money in advance for something that’s considered a business risk and they fail, it’s your fault! There are no risks in business, only moral failings at the hands of evil targeted audiences, AM I RITE GUYZ?

  37. 152

    Advertising is evil.

  38. 153

    Outside of Adwords on a Google search results page, I have not clicked on an ad on a website in at least a decade. I’ve found I actually have a problem seeing any image that is the typical banner size (468×60, etc), sort of an internal AdBlock.

    Knowing that I will never click the ad, isn’t it selfish of the website to charge the advertiser to display the ad, since I won’t respond? Why is that any more fair?

    Also, while it’s true that nothing on the web is truly free, nothing is truly unique either. If a website cannot support itself due to a revenue model based on ads, another website will take its place. It’s the nature of the web.

    • 154

      Banner advertisement isn’t just clickthrough, it’s also for brand recognition.

      Imagine a large billboard for Budweiser, Miller Lite or McDonald’s while you’re driving down the highway: You may not immediately stop by a liquor store to pick up a case of Budweiser (i.e. “clickthrough on the ad”) and buy the product right away, but it might leave you a lasting impression/image and a sense of ubiquity for these products.

  39. 155

    James Morrison

    June 14, 2010 5:37 am

    I don’t use an “adblocker” (although I use a custom CSS file for safari which blocks Google Ads). At the end of the day, regardless of what an ad is for or the context in which it’s displayed (image / animated image / video / audio) I won’t be clicking on it.

    I found the site I’m looking at for a reason and it wasn’t to click on ads. Most ads I see tend to be affiliate links which means the site displaying it gets a cut of any referred sales. Surely this can only mean the product was overpriced in the first place?

    Maybe instead of pushing unwanted ads and wasting my bandwidth they should do themselves a favour and reduce their overpriced products. If an advertised product is good and I genuinely need it I’ll buy a licence, if not the ad does nothing but waste my time.

  40. 156

    Wait, there’s ads on Smashing Magazine? Har har.

    I think other websites should take note of Coudal’s The DECK ad network. Simple and effective.

    • 157

      Joe Stevens

      June 14, 2010 5:46 am

      I love Deck ads. They are the only ads I ever click on. I’m sure Smashing Magazine would have no problem getting into that network.

  41. 158

    I cant believe 49% of the smashing mag audience is using ad blockers (looking at the poll), how sad. If it wasn’t for ads smashingmag would not exist. But hey, not your problem right?

    How sad!

  42. 159

    As a show of support, add your favorite and trusted sites to the “white list” of your ad-blocking software so that you allow those sites to display ads. I’m not saying not to use ad-blocking software, just allow your favorite sites to display ads so that you can support their continual growth.

    • 160

      I agree with this, it’s a good solution with an acceptable compromise, but we do have to keep in mind that many sites on the internet (not just our favorites) rely on ad impressions to stay afloat.

      • 161

        Let the people decide if those sites should stay afloat or not. If you put out good content, more people will white list you to support you. If your site is doing good, keep going. If not, you’re probably not working hard enough to get people what they want, you need to keep grinding.

        IMHO, If you had approached it in another way, where you say: “it’s OK to use ad-blocking software, but if you love and support a site, white list them,” I think the responses would’ve been more positive and more people who’ve probably whitelisted SM. People who used to block the sites they love might consider whitelisting those sites if approached this way. This post, more than anything, will result in more people blocking ads because of the simple fact that people on the Internet – whose culture is based on freedom of choice – don’t like to be told what they should do.

        The solution is not to ask people to stop doing what they’re doing. It’s to evolve your business model and find creative ways of serving advertising. There’s a reason why ad-blocking is popular, and it’s not because people are intrinsically selfish or don’t care about the sites they visit. Many just forget that there’s a whitelist feature on their software.

        • 162

          Well, unfortunately, I don’t agree with ever using ad blocking software for any reason.

          People have to realize that websites use ads for good reason. Yes, it’s true that a lot of ads are intrusive, but the alternative in many cases is no ads, thus no content.

          Someone else mentioned the music industry, and how my argument is similar to people saying that digital music is bad. But the fact is, many musicians cannot make a living anymore (or have decreased their revenue) because of digital music. By using ad blockers, we encourage selfishness and a disregard for the value of online content.

          When you mention “creative ways of serving advertising”, what are you referring to? Should we have paid content? Should we have paid reviews? Should a popular blogger mention software in his articles without indicating that those “mentions” are paid? Many people are against that type of “creative” advertising, which boils down to my point in being so forward and “telling people what to do”:

          The current advertising model on web design blogs is great — advertisers are willing to pay thousands of dollars to have an ad in a sidebar (or sometimes in other more intrusive spots). That’s great! There’s no reason we should change that model by blocking ads and getting more “creative”. There should be a clear line drawn between what is advertising and what is not — otherwise the “creative” solutions will end up blurring the line between quality content and “pushed” products.

          • 163

            When you mention “creative ways of serving advertising”, what are you referring to?

            > If you really care about ad-blocking software that much, implement code that blocks people from accessing your site if they use it.

            > Or how about directly embedding ads in your template in a custom way, which is more difficult to block (you need to set custom rules for these in your ad-blocking software, which can reduce the amount of people who automatically block your ads).

            > Sell an eBook, like Smashing Magazine.

            Change your model. It’s a hard fact of competition: Those that put in more effort, get more rewards than those who do this stuff as side project.

            Evolution of the fittest: If you can’t put in the time, energy, and passion to work on this stuff, find something else that fits your schedule. You do that long and hard enough, people will love you and support you, through willingly whitelisting your site.

            The solution is not to change people’s preferred behaviors, but to evolve with them.

            The solution is not to *demand* that people stop doing what they have a free right to do, but rather, to ask them nicely if they would consider whitelisting your site.

            The solution is not to ask people to stop what they’re doing, but to to find ways around it (read my suggestions above).

            The internet is built on top of a culture of freedom and of choice, and you have to accept that as a site owner.

            Digg, for example, accepts the fact that people on their site use ad-blocking software. They even test their ad units to make sure they are effectively blocked by AdBlock Plus!

            Advertisers are well aware that people use ad-blocking software. They’re also smart enough to analyze whether $X amount of dollars are worth it for Y amount of clickthrough and impressions.

            You’ve made a lot of assumptions about people’s evil/selfish nature and ignorance that are completely unfounded.

            And let’s be clear: I am not in support of using ad-blocking software on sites that you love and support, I am supporting, essentially, freedom of choice to do what you have the right to do.

          • 164

            Come on, Jacob. Look at the amount of spam that exists on the internet. It’s garbage. Why does it exist? Because those people are selfish and don’t care about the community they’re part of.

            Of course, I don’t think people who block ads are the same as spammers, but it’s similar, because it’s done for a self-serving purpose, without consideration for longterm repurcussions.

            (And I hope no one thinks that Jacob and I are fighting here. We like each other — we just like to butt heads once in a while! No hard feelings…)

  43. 165

    Craig Reville

    June 14, 2010 5:42 am

    My personal Opinion on websites displaying ads is as follows:

    Adverts do make the world go round, that’s how we see new products, that is how we showcase products & other services we would otherwise not know about and that is how companies make money. Adverts are a common slot within our everyday television viewing however ad’s should NOT be left to automatic ad sites, why?

    Well because they only TRY to find the best relating adverts to your product opposed to specifically re-shaping the adverts to match and blend with your current site contents.

    Ads are meant to be seen so why not make it part of your content?


    Craig Reville

  44. 166

    I think the web has come on enough that I don’t need to use ad blockers. I frequently visit the same sites and I know that their advertising is there for a good reason. I have also found that, recently, I’ve not visited a single website that has overly obtrusive or invasive advertising. I think people have finally figured out that because we can block annoying adverts, we will. And people aren’t going to make money these days by creating those kinds of adverts.

    Just think how popups used to rule the web. Before everyone could simply use their browser to block popups they were everywhere! Whether it’s because my browser blocks them or not, I have noticed that there aren’t many, if any, popup advertising on any of the sites I have visited recently. The ease of disabling them has forced people to find a less obtrusive way to advertise.

    • 167

      Ben Everard

      June 14, 2010 6:02 am

      I completely agree, and in fact you raise a good point.

      When pop-up ads were ruling the internet should we have disabled our browsers pop-up pop-up blocker, or better yet choose one that doesn’t have a blocked at all?!

      I think the crux of the matter is we have to think why people are using ad blockers, if it’s because the users a knob, so be it… but I like to think that if the website insists on obtrusive advertisement the user will either turn around and go to a competitor and block the adverts, simple.

      This is a usability / design issue, not a user issue.

  45. 168

    Blimey, I’m glad you don’t run the internet. People should always have a choice and with ad blockers they do. They’re just as entitled to be part of the web as ads are.

    • 169

      Joe Stevens

      June 14, 2010 6:02 am

      You do have a choice.
      If you don’t like ads then don’t visit websites that show them.

      • 170

        I don’t go to websites for the ads, so why would I choose not to go them if they do?

        • 171

          Joe Stevens

          June 14, 2010 6:18 am

          The websites that show ads depend on them for revenue.
          That revenue pays for the content, storage and bandwidth.
          If you choose to visit them while blocking their ads you cost them money and give nothing in return and that isn’t fair. However it is fair if you don’t visit them that way they don’t lose money on you.

  46. 172

    anonymous coward

    June 14, 2010 5:57 am

    Its a ridiculous argument to say “don’t use ad blockers”. Its like trying to empty the ocean with a teacup. Its pointless. That genie is already out and the free web is going away. As a publisher I say good riddance I look forward to the day all users are paying pennies per page. Good bye free web.

    • 173

      What you’re saying won’t work. As soon as someone starts charging for “content A”, then someone else will come along and give “content A” away for free. That’s the nature of the web.

      My article is not talking about ads on the internet in general, it’s about Web Designers who use ad blockers. We need ads to keep the design community alive and thriving as it is now. If we all use ad blockers, the design community will die.

  47. 174

    most ads are intrusive, abusive and downright nasty, some go to the point of injecting code and exploit your browsers (besides the looping flash banners, the psychedelic colors, the rollovers, the pre-video, ….), this is not to say that we should all stop using ads and or start all using adblockers, but you cant make an article that pretty much says everyone that uses adblockers is wrong, thats why most adblocks have a whitelist (even though i do agree if it was more straightforward to put sites on the whitelist i would probably do it more often), even quality sites, even putting good ads, can make it downright bad, by putting too many or inside the content or all over the theme of the site, by using an adblock you can actually enjoy the site, i would avoid lots of sites if i didnt have some kind of adblocking.

    also as a sidenote:

    Ad Blockers Hinder the Community, NO! most of the times ADS hinder the community, check gametrailers and how everytime they go out of their way with intrusive ads, their community goes up in flames.

    Ad Blockers Promote a Me-First Attitude, NO! ad blockers promote freedom of choice, or you forget that users of the site are most of the times paying for internet access, they should choose what they want to use their bandwidth with.

    Ad Blockers Could Cause a Mini “dot com bust”, NO! there are more avenues of making money besides ads.

    Ad Blockers Make the Web Less Real, NO! the web is already not real, if you use firefox its not the same rendering as ie or chrome or opera, just cause we take away the ads doesn’t mean its less real, means its a faster and less obnoxious web.

    Ad Blockers Should Be Banned (for Quality Blogs), NO! quality blogs should find different revenue streams, besides annoying their users.

    • 175

      Benito Aramando

      June 14, 2010 7:07 am

      Wow, which sites do you visit? I occasionally see an ad that could be considered intrusive. As for abusive or nasty, almost never.

    • 176


      When you say that “ads hinder the community”, it’s like saying “the $15.00 my barber charges me for my haircut hinders my ability to enjoy my hair.”

  48. 177

    dominic heron

    June 14, 2010 6:06 am

    I’m sympathetic to your position, but you don’t do yourself any favours by making your case with FUD. “Dot Com busts and a ravaged design community” my hairy rear. If your advertising revenues are falling and endangering the business, you’ll have to look at your business model. You may daydream about it, but visitors won’t be bullied out of their surfing habits into compliance with a flawed business model. As sad as it would be if a good ezine like smashingmagazine disappeared (and it would be), its place would be quickly filled by a competitor with a robuster business model. But even if you were right and the whole reef disintegrated, high quality articles would still abound on individual blogs – and I don’t remember reading a single demand from Jonathan Snook, Eric Meyer, Sam Brown, Jeffrey Zeldman, Jon Hicks, Elliot Stocks or any of the countless other wise heads in the community insisting that I change my behaviour in order to read their opinion.

    • 178

      Advertisers willing to pay thousands every month for ad impressions is not a flawed business model. Also, we have a clear distinction between paid content and non-paid. If we block ads, then these types of sites will have no choice but to resort to paid content, paid reviews, and so forth, which a lot of people don’t like.

      And no, you’re right, those “standardistas” you mentioned don’t always charge for their content, they don’t demand we change our habits. But they also don’t rely on ads for their income, and they sometimes write articles about their pet dogs, and what they had for dinner last night.

      If Vitaly Friedman posted articles like that on SM, people would be crying murder — but Zeldman posts and tweets about nonsense all the time, because he doesn’t rely on ad impressions to keep him afloat. His blog is an outlet for a lot of different things, so nobody expects that from him or many of those others.

  49. 179

    I do use ad blocker, with exceptions: I keep Deck and Fusion ads unblocked. Those ads interest me, others just steal my attention. Selfishness, but most of the time, I don’t feel guilt for hiding ads.

    Most good blogs I read manage to survive without ads — probably the best example is Daring Fireball. Ads are in the content, written by author, always interesting. There are many ways to monetize your blog, ads are not the best one.

  50. 180

    I went to the author’s page and clicked an ad to thank him for his wise words.

  51. 181

    I am actually blocking all kind of ads, not because they are annoying but to load the pages faster. My connexion is not that fast and i can’t bear waiting several minutes just to load few content with lots of ad around.
    So who are selfish ? Those who block the ads to make “their internet faster” or those who just dont care how slow our connexion can be and make huge page full of ads even when the content is just about few lines of text ?

  52. 182

    Certainly I can’t be the only one who thinks this opinion piece is approaching the issue from completely the wrong angle. What I’ve gotten from this article is that because someone designs for the web, they are automatically burdened with both the responsibility for providing others with revenue, as well as sacrificing their personal comfort as an internet user. As a concept, this is completely counter-productive, as web designers are not the only people who use ad blockers. Naturally I don’t have statistics at hand, but it’s a fair assumption that most people who use ad blockers are not members of the design community.

    It would then follow that as designers, we should be designing and developing methods for creating revenue with this in mind. Many internet users employ ad blockers; that is simply a fact. It makes better business sense to work on innovation around this concept than malign that reality isn’t shaping up the way you’d prefer. Asking users to sacrifice the comfort of their browsing experience is quite frankly ridiculous and unrealistic, regardless of their vocation.

  53. 183

    Ads on the web are intrusive, annoying, and far to pushed into everyone’s face. Until this changes—keep blocking them.

  54. 184

    If adverts didn’t have such an adverse effect on computer performance, they wouldn’t be so bad to start with – the more flash adverts a page is loaded with, the worse its performance gets (to the point on some that its not usable). Plenty of people don’t have the latest and greatest computers, ad blockers make the internet usable again for these type of machines.

  55. 185

    Until ads stop being ugly, intrusive, misleading and generally worthless, I will always use adblock.

  56. 186

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat. If the provision of ads was (in general) more relevant then I would be happy to leave them unblocked. This trend is beginning but it’s slow to develop as I’m still not over the buzzing mosquito.

    Why should I pay attention to poorly written affiliate link ads when all I want is to read the article? Ads are supposed to work by attraction. The interest in social marketing is, in part, a reaction to the mistrust of push advertising.

    What will happen if all this content goes behind paywalls, even if they are micropayment based? Will people pay for these design blog posts? If this is where we’re going all these blog owners are going to have to up their game. No more cannibalised top 10 lists and rehashed tutorials.

  57. 187

    Ben Everard

    June 14, 2010 6:41 am

    I wish I was using an ad blocker when watching the England vs USA game on ITV HD, bloody advert was run exactly when we scored…

    Just proves adverts are useless :D

  58. 188

    John Robinson

    June 14, 2010 6:45 am

    Yes, we all love free content, and blogs/magazine sites love to give us free content. And yes, those sites need to find a way of being able to offer that free content without going out of business. But if your website’s entire existence relies upon being able to serve up ads to your visitors, then you are doing something very wrong.

    By its very nature free content is free. You can’t monetise free. What you can do, however, is find alternative revenue streams to supplement your free offerings. The two obvious examples are merchandise (Smashing Magazine has its merchandise, including the increasing number of books that are being released) and premium content (Chris Spooner, among others, recently introduced a “premium” area for people who want to pay for premium content).

    The trick is to figure out non-intrusive ancilliaries are available to you (or come up with some of your own!) and develop them effectively.

    Chucking eyes at the same BuySellAds that I saw on the previous 5 sites I visited is not a good business model, and it WILL come and bite you in the ass.

  59. 189

    all users of the internet should be able to choose what they want to see and what they do not want to see. period.

    i’ll tell you, tho, as a web developer who uses ad-block plus, i have no idea what the internet actually looks like anymore. i’m okay with that!

    • 190

      Benito Aramando

      June 14, 2010 7:19 am

      You are free to do that, but the point is that there are moral issues around you exercising that freedom.

      • 191

        You’re confusing morals with economics. A sense of entitlement to money based on your own perceived value of your work is probably what’s caused that.

        • 192

          Benito Aramando

          June 14, 2010 8:28 am

          I’m actually a salaried web developer, so I have no personal investment in this issue. However, I have empathy for content producers of all kinds who, although we recognise they have no entitlement to money for their work, do unfairly suffer the economic consequences of consumers who seem to feel they have an entitlement to free content, which of course they do not. I view this as a moral issue because it is; just because it is possible to take something without giving anything back does not mean it is a fair thing to do.

          • 193

            Blocking advertisement does not equal a sense of entitlement. The content is free, coupled with easily blocked advertisements. In fact, most ads can even be disabled by simply disabling javascript. With the possibility of users viewing a site in any number of browsers and formats, it’s the responsibility of the person running the blog to block ad blocking users if they do not actually wish to distribute free content, but *free content (with ads). Many others have compared this experience to watching television. They can’t guarantee you’ll sit and watch the commercial, or even allow the commercial to play on your TV (Tivo, skipping to another station, etc.), and attempting to enforce it could severely affect their viewer base. Getting up to get another beer while the same annoying TV ads run is not a moral decision. They’ve paid for the potential viewing of their ads.

            It’s not a moral issue, it’s a matter of “Will the actual value (not self-perceived value) and success of my services/product sustain a paid subscription or forced advertisement (adblock users blocked) model?” If the answer is no, the market has done its job and it might be back to the drawing board for the aspiring design blogger. Sites that are able to adapt by either not being large enough to cost more than they make, or by using a different business model like paid subscriptions, will survive. Those that aren’t able to adapt will “die.” Feel free to play the blame game and try to bring morality into the argument to justify failure, but the success of a website is the sole responsibility of those who run it.

        • 194

          Benito Aramando

          June 15, 2010 3:00 am

          [Reply to your next post] No, blocking ads does not equal a sense of entitlement, but it’s clear from a lot of the comments here that that is what ad blocking often goes hand in hand with. I’m just surprised how many people are *completely* at ease with enjoying the benefits of free content without feeling *any* sense of obligation to reciprocate through the simple act of allowing a few innocuous ads to display on their screen, especially so when we’re talking about content that is part of a community. Where’s the sense of fairness? That’s where morals come into it, and if people still can’t see how it can be viewed as a moral issue then I suggest they look up the meaning of “moral”. You obviously take a much more hard-line capitalist view than I do, though, which is fine, and you are able to support your position with sound arguments, but quite a lot of people come across as taking their position for purely selfish reasons. Some people may also feel that they reciprocate in less direct ways, by contributing their own resources to a community, and again, that’s fine.

          BTW blocking web ads is not the same as ignoring or skipping TV ads. The TV company still gets paid by the advertisers. The equivalent would be to not block web ads but just ignore them. The point is that it shifts the loss from the advertiser to the content provider, although some might say “so what’s the difference?”, and they may well have a point.

          Anyway, I’m just arguing a principle here. I really don’t think blocking ads is a big deal, just *very slightly* selfish. I haven’t bothered to whitelist ad-serving domains in my NoScript or anything!

          • 195

            Actually it’s exactly the same as my TV example. Viewing the ads and simply ignoring them would be akin to sitting at your TV watching the commercials but not paying attention to them, talking to family members, etc. while they’re playing with the sound on. Getting up to go get a snack while the commercials run is exactly the same as using an ad blocker. You know you’re not interested in the ads, so you don’t even allow them to assault your senses in the first place. There’s nothing selfish about limiting the influence marketing/advertisers have on your life in any sense.

          • 196

            Benito Aramando

            June 15, 2010 11:05 am

            Totally agree with your last statement, Paul, but your comparison with TV ads remains flawed. I believe I’m right in saying that a lot of web ads are pay-per-display, as opposed to pay-per-click. When you block ads that are pay-per-display you actively deprive the website owner of revenue, whilst at the same time you have cost them some (admittedly very small, or even just notional) amount of money by visiting their site. You make a distinction between seeing TV ads and paying no attention, and not seeing them at all (e.g. by moving to another room), but in truth *whatever* you do while they are on, the TV company still gets paid, which is not the same outcome as when you block pay-per-display web ads.

          • 197

            In the case of pay per display (where the adverts are typically loaded and tracked via javascript), where do you make the distinction between someone who’s using ad blocking software vs. someone who simply doesn’t have javascript enabled? Is it the responsibility of JS disabled users to enable Javascript to ensure that the sites they visit receive maximum advertising revenue? Where do you draw the line between the responsibility of the users and the business owners?

            Furthermore, why is it okay for you to walk out on a commercial and allow the advertisers to falsely pay the television station for exposure? Isn’t it dishonest to allow the advertiser to pay for an ad spot and then allow a false positive to be recorded when no one was actually around to watch it? Why is it okay for advertisers to take the calculated financial risk of paying for potential exposure but not for blog owners to take the risk of time and money spent on providing free content coupled with the potential for advertising revenue?

          • 198

            Benito Aramando

            June 15, 2010 2:54 pm

            I don’t see the need to make any such distinctions in the first place; if some people don’t receive ads for whatever reason then that’s that, and it doesn’t greatly matter. I don’t make judgements of people who actively block web ads and I certainly have no criticism of those who don’t receive them as a by-product of some other measure, such as using NoScript. My basic point has been, and remains, that unlike turning over when the ads come on TV or ignoring a billboard, preventing web ads from displaying hurts the provider of the content that you are benefitting from, and so jason kuhn’s idea that web users should just do what they please all the time without regard for its effect on other people or some sub-community of the web doesn’t sit right with me. Since this article is a discussion pertaining to the providers of web content I’m not really interested in the welfare of the advertisers right now.

          • 199

            Great time to say you can’t make a distinction.

            I’ll ask again: Why is it okay for advertisers to take the calculated financial risk of paying for potential exposure but not for blog owners to take the risk of time and money spent on providing free content coupled with the potential for advertising revenue? You don’t feel right about web users doing what they want, which implies that you feel that they hold some responsibility in the success of a design blog.

      • 200

        If you think there are “moral issues” to using an adblocker, then you’re an idiot. I say that with a clean conscience… because it’s truth.

        • 201

          Benito Aramando

          June 15, 2010 1:27 am

          There’s no need to resort to name-calling. It’s not my fault you can’t understand the issues.

          • 202

            Well I hope you see a priest every time you fast forward through DVR’ed commercials, or skip past the “Coming Soon” ads on a DVD you own. I hope to god you stop your car and marvel at every billboard on the side of the road, and open and read every peice of junk mail or spam… I mean… you wouldn’t want to be “immoral” or anything…

            Believe me, I’m not “resorting” to calling you an idiot… I’m calling you an idiot because I truly believe you’re an idiot.

        • 203

          Benito Aramando

          June 15, 2010 10:34 am

          If you were a more civilised, agreeable person you would have kept your crude opinion of me to yourself and used reasoned argument to demonstrate how, in your view, I was wrong, but it seems you are either too lazy or inarticulate to do that.

          Can you seriously not comprehend the difference between not passively taking in an advert on TV or a billboard, which makes no difference to anyone, and actively preventing the sender of some information, which they have incurred a cost to produce and supply you with, from receiving remuneration for doing so? Because your ridiculous last reply suggests as much, with its completely inappropriate examples.

          Whenever your actions impact on other people, there are moral considerations. I really hope you understand this already. They may be trivial, but they are there nonetheless. That’s what I mean by “moral issues”. I don’t mean it’s necessarily a “bad” thing, equivalent to defrauding vulnerable old-age pensioners, just that it’s about more than just our own selfish desires, and people should at least be aware of that.

  60. 205

    thanx for reminding me/us of that important topic. I guess an adblock-detection function and thereby a message “please whitelist us to support this blog/mag” would be helpful for people and companys like yours.

    I instantly wanted to de-blocked you, but got lost in ADblock-plus… any hints welcome

  61. 206

    I don’t have problems with normal banners that “blend” into the layout of a site and are unobstrusive.
    But what I really hate are those bloody layer ads. So I tend to leave my ad-blocker deactivated on most sites and add manual rules whenever I come across a site with a layer ad more or less frequently.

  62. 207

    The internet has opened a whole new world to marketers. They can create ads that are more engaging and relevant to a specific user, instead of simply building towards a set demographic.

    Unfortunately, like a lot of other industries, many of these individuals have failed because they approached advertising on the web with a traditional mindset. In my experience (and my own personal viewpoint), if the ads are engaging and relevant, I don’t want to block them. If they aren’t, they become this annoyance that hurts my productivity.

    Your view that everyone takes a “me-first” attitude and how that is wrong means that you are missing the bigger picture. Everyone has a “me-first” attitude… you do. You wrote this article to express your personal opinion and, in the end, hopefully protect some of your ad revenue. It is a fundamental tenant of economics that everyone works in their own self interest. At the end of the day, everyone working the betterment of themselves yields benefits to all through innovation and building collective knowledge of best practices.

    A marketer who is unable to create ads that work will lose his/her job. One that can build an ad experience that is worthy of shutting down an ad blocker will make a ton of money and others will copy their success leading to better ads for all of us.

  63. 208

    I use ad blockers and install them on everyone’s pc I know. I am a HUGE advocate of them, and this article has done absolutely nothing to change my mind. why? Because adblockers are more effective than virus scanners. I’d had a couple of family members and friends that constantly got viruses no matter now many virus scanners I installed with automatic updates. I installed Firefox with adblocking and they have yet to get another virus.

    Until sites start hosting advertisements on their own servers and taking full responsibility for any and all malicious code in ads, I will never ever allow you to make one penny of revenue off me or anyone else I know, unless you care to reimburse me and those I know or all the lost time and damages these ads have caused.

  64. 209

    Ad-blocking is content piracy – fact.

    It’s one thing to use ad-blockers, it’s another to try and defend the use of them as some sort of right. It’s the same sorts of arguments we hear from software/movie/music pirates to rationalize their theft.

    That said – I’m not here to stand on some sort of high horse. I’ve downloaded my share of torrents. I’ve blocked my share of ads…. but I’m in no way kidding myself that what I’m doing is somehow my right or justified. I can get away with it, it’s more convenient for ME, I’ll pay for what I find valuable, I’ll steal what I don’t if it’s easier. Most people are of this mindset, but aren’t honest with themselves about it.

    These days I simply use a Flash blocker. 99.9% of annoying or intrusive ads are Flash based. I find this is an easy way to “punish” publishers of annoying/intrusive ads without hindering sites that use tasteful placement and static graphics.

  65. 210

    Would you like some cheese with that whine? I use ADblock because I don’t like ads. If I didn’t use an ad blocker, I still wouldn’t click on the ad! so whats the point?

    • 211

      …because not all advertising is “Pay per Click” based. There are plenty of “Pay per Impression” ads that pay out based on the number of “views” an ad gets. Blocking the ad limits the number of views, which de-values the ad placement.

      • 212

        James @ June 14th, 2010 7:13: “…not all advertising is “Pay per Click” based. There are plenty of “Pay per Impression” ads that pay out based on the number of “views” an ad gets. Blocking the ad limits the number of views, which de-values the ad placement.”

        But, that being said, people using AdBlocker, who are less likely to click on advertisements anyway, no longer getting being counted in the impressions statistic, would, by logical extension, most likely drive up the click-through ratio and thereby increase the value of the placement in those terms, would they not?

        • 213

          Are you honestly trying to suggest that ad blockers can increase the profits a website makes?

          • 214

            @Tomer: June 17th, 2010 4:35 pm
            Are you honestly trying to suggest that ad blockers can increase the profits a website makes?

            I am simply stating that, from a statistics perspective, the use of adblockers would should increase the percentage of clicks to impressions.

            For instance, if, without adblockers, 100 people see the advert, but, 20 of those people (being, for round figures, the percentage of people who use adblockers) completely ignore it. And, we’ll also take, for arguments-sake, that 10 people click on the advert out of those 100 impressions, giving a click-through-rate of 10%.

            The same instance, with those 20 people ignoring adverts now using adblockers, you now have those 10 click-throughs from 80 impressions, giving a click-through-rate of 12.5%.

  66. 215

    An interesting article and discussion. I am a web developer and I use AdBlocker. I also tend to include AdBlocker into the Firefox installs I do for clients, friends and families. I do not make any income through any advertisements shown on any of my websites.

    [Now that I have made my details somewhat clear.]

    I disagree with this article’s suggestion that, as a consumer of online material, people should not use adblocking software/plugins as they deny the content provider/host with an income stream.

    AdBlocks, for the most part, and in my opinion, were almost an essential response by regular internet users to a growing torrent of online advertising. The number of websites which were utilising advertising in deceptive manners (styled in such a way as to suggest that they were part of the site’s content, rather than an external and paid-for advert), disruptive fashions (where the display of advertising has a detrimental effect on the user experience) or, in some cases, almost outweighed the “content” of the page.

    So, I started using an AdBlocker – pages loaded faster, my bandwidth usage was reduced, and the online world became something that I could enjoy once again, without being bombarded with crud.

    The old (and in some cases, current) nature of online advertising has, for too long, and too widely, degraded into something which would not be accepted in other forms of mass media. If, for instance, I was watching TV and the shows I was wanting to watch were interrupted every 3 minutes by advertisements, I would be upset. If those advertisements featured the same cast and characters as the show which they were injected into, I would be upset. If, during the very limited content between those advertisements, I was hounded by scrolling adverts and teasers along the bottom of the image, I would be upset.

    Don’t get me wrong – I contribute financially to a number of sites, through purchasing books and products, through donations (especially to Open Source initiatives which I use in my work), but I do not see the point in turning off my AdBlocker and degrading my online experience for a negligible return to the content providers.

    I also agree with some of the above posters, who make the point that, even as this is an opinion piece, it’s publication through SmashingMagazine does suggest their support for the views stated in the article. I understand that may not be the case, and the purpose of this article may be to offer one viewpoint on the topic, however, if that was truly the case, I believe that a joint article, showing both sides of the topic, would have been better received.

    I do also see the point raised by another poster, that removing the ability for visitors making comment to post their URLs, and the stated request of “…do not advertise!” does not seem inline with the underlying theme of this article, which, in my reading is, do not deny online citizens their ability to create income through growing and monetising traffic. Preventing people who are adding to the value of this site, from gaining a return in value through linking, if anything, I believe, is a greater offence than people visiting sites using AdBlockers.

    Regardless, and in all honesty, if a designer/developer/owner wants to prevent access to their site for people using AdBlocker, there are, of course, methods to do so, or to show “nag” messages to people using them. Not that I would recommend that, as, with so many sites out there, none are irreplaceable, but, if you truly feel strongly about this topic, then do something about it, rather than trying to guilt trip all and sundry into changing our (admittedly, Me-First) behaviours.

  67. 216

    People use advert blockers for several reasons:

    1. They are incredibly distracting – some adverts remind me of a 70’s disco ball.
    2. Adverts that hijack my page with their pop out flyover videos – very annoying.
    3. In fact, any sort of video in an advert at all – this isn’t YouTube.
    4. Adverts that install spyware or other nasties – why should I trust ads from networks that condone this?
    5. Adverts that deliberately attempt to mimic the website they’re on.
    6. Adverts are irrelevant or repetitive. Looking at this page right now, I see 2 PSD2HTML services, 2 email marketing contacts, and two particularly annoying and gaudy “ESSENTIAL INSPIRATION” advertisements. I feel that promoting similar services (especially right next to each other) is a bad move, as it dilutes the value of each advert.

    If all advertising networks published ads that weren’t annoying, deceitful, repetitive and actually meaningful to me, then I might be considered to uninstall my ad blocker.

    There are very few sites that I have white listed – SM is one of them, because occasionally there is a single tidbit of information I find useful.

    [ Off-topic: Did you know, I bought the book too? ]

    See what I did there?

    As I recall, this topic has come up on SM before, and I said roughly the same thing – adverts are failing at their job because they’re just not relevant enough – and the duplication of adverts seriously dilutes their value. Instead of 10 mediocre adverts, why not have 5 super awesome adverts that really are relevant. Have them rotate so they’re fresh.

    And what would be really awesome? If those 5 adverts weren’t the same 5 adverts that I see on every other website on the internet that focuses on a similar topic.

  68. 217

    Just looking at the SM ads on this page. Design to XHTML, PSD to CSS, free Flash websites…

    If you offered something of worth to your readers, you’d probably get more clickthroughs. All I see here are the same, tired, boring ads that appear on all design blogs. I see them so often that I hardly notice them anymore. And as a professional web designer; I’d never use any on those services.

    • 218

      Joe Stevens

      June 14, 2010 7:45 am

      I don’t support Ad Block but I do agree that most of the ads on Smashing Magazine are ridiculously irrelevant to me. Three of them are useful to me but I barely notice them because they are surrounded by services I would never use.

      I think Smashing Magazine needs to cut down on the number of ads they show, the side bar could be extremely valuable if it were only one or two big ads instead of eleven small ones.

    • 219

      Regardless of the fact that you find those ads pointless, those companies are still willing to pay good money to be on there. So my point is, let them be on there, let them have their impressions, even if you don’t find them particularly useful. I think it’s a small sacrifice to make that will ultimately keep the money from those advertisers coming into our community.

      • 220

        Are they paying good money to have the ads displayed? If so, me paying attention to them doesn’t matter; they’re still paying SM for the ad placement. Or are they paying by the referral? The adverts to the right of this article all seem to have referral ID’s attached to them. Making me think they pay by the click. If they’re paying for the click, or the conversion then no wonder they aren’t making any money, these ads are useless to me (and most of the readers of this blog).

        Like I said, give me something I’m interested in and I’ll check it out, throw me the same irrelevant adverts I see on EVERY SINGLE design blog and I’m going to ignore them.

        Banner ad’s are obtrusive, old hat and clearly don’t work. So adopt (for example) the Envato method. If your content is worth paying for, people will pay for more of it. if not, they won’t. Evolve or die.

        • 221

          If banner ads don’t work, then why are people paying thousands for them? Come on, Pete. Just because you personally would never click one does not mean they don’t work.

          • 222

            So then why does it matter if I, as a designer use an ad blocker? This is a personal thing, I don’t click on banner ads, so it’s irrelevant to the blog owner as to whether I block them or not. If they worked so well, then why the need for ad blockers in the first place?

            Web designers, by nature are web-savvy. We’ve seen these same, boring useless ads for products we don’t use day in, day out, seven days a week. If a blog thinks that sticking up the same ad scripts from the same affiliate networks as the next design blog I visit is acceptable, I’m going to block them; because I’m sick of looking at them. Your audience are creative, show some acknowledgment of this and get creative with your advertising.

            Take your own website for example. You have a nasty, flashing animated banner advertising link building. Is this a product you’d recommend to a close friend? It it something you’d advise a family member to get? If I can see a legitimate reason for you advertising a product, something you believe in and rate then (if I respect your opinion) I’ll check it out, if not, I’ll just assume you’ve set up a blog to garner some traffic and sell some ad space.

            You have ADVERTS on your web design services page FFS. Is really an acceptable professional level to be working to?

          • 223

            Pete Morley

            June 17, 2010 1:23 am

            I realised I’ve been dismissing the banner model without offering any alternatives other than the Envato model.

            Check out Ken Rockwell’s website. I respect his opinion on camera products, he’s fair and unbiased. I’ve purchased lenses based on his reviews, and as a little footnote on each page, he’ll link to the product he’s reviewed with an Amazon affiliate link. I’ve actually gone out of my way to buy a lens via one of these links, because I’ve been using his website for years. He’s built up a level of trust.

    • 224

      Natalia Ventre

      June 14, 2010 1:15 pm

      I agree with Pete, I’m a customer of MailChimp and iStockphoto (so I’m not gonna click them) and the other services are totally useless, so it doesn’t matter if I see the banners or not.

  69. 225

    I’m a completely regular internet user who just happens to be interested in design.

    And I never use Internet Explorer.

    And I always use AdBlock Plus. And NoScript.

    Among my acquaintances even _casual_ users don’t use IE, and they _all_ use some kind of adblocking software.

    For many reasons. Too many ads come with spyware or viruses. And of course they are ugly, obnoxious, and distract from what I’ve come to a site for. No one in their right mind will look at ads if they can avoid it, unless they want to support a certain website that way.

    If you are a designer, you’re not designing for me if you plaster space for idiot ads everywhere into your designs.

  70. 226

    This guy is nuts ‘dont use ad blockers because I lose money’. Not really, good people making their advertising contracts get most of their money from impressions not clicks. Most of the adblockers still load the ads but hide them from showing up on the page. So people still get paid.

    Ads are blocked because people arent responsible for the content of the ads (inappropriate or malicious ads).

    If a site is shown to show responsible ad usage, then people can unblock sites but otherwise ad revenue, based on clicks, is just the owner setting up a bad contract.

    • 227


      I’m not sure if you’re correct about the impressions still counting even when the ads are blocked. Maybe someone who knows how the software works would know better. I have never tried an ad blocker, so I wouldn’t know.

      If you’re right, then the ad blockers are even worse than I thought, because now the advertisers are paying for nonexistent impressions. That would be worse than no impressions, because it’s money wasted with no potential return on the investment.

      • 228

        WTF??!? Your main argument was “I just want to defend the design community so we can still get free content”!

        I mean, right above, you’re saying “Regardless of the fact that you find those ads pointless, those companies are still willing to pay good money to be on there. So my point is, let them be on there, let them have their impressions, even if you don’t find them particularly useful. I think it’s a small sacrifice to make that will ultimately keep the money from those advertisers coming into our community.”.

        So you’ve explicitly said you don’t give a damn about the ads being useful to advertisers, and now you’re claiming that adblockers are even worse than you thought “because it’s money wasted with no potential return on the investment”… I am speechless facing so much inconsistency :-|

        > I have never tried an ad blocker, so I wouldn’t know.
        That’s called researching a subject before writing a piece about it. But your article already showed you didn’t do that, since you didn’t explain a single bit _why_ would people start using adblockers in the first place, neither drew any comparison with pop-up blockers that are now built in all browsers…

        • 229

          Matti, my point was that one person finding them pointless would not mean they were actually pointless. I’m saying by allowing the impressions, we show support for the advertisers. I never meant to say that I don’t care about the value of the ads.

          The point is: the advertisers themselves feel the ads are valuable to their marketing efforts, and they support the community with their money. That’s a GOOD THING! Why should we change that for our own selfish interests?

  71. 230

    The problem isn’t the end-users who use ad-blockers. Don’t blame us.

    The problem is the publishers who insist on heavy, obtrusive, Flash ads.

    If the ads weren’t so obtrusive and in your face, users would have little reason to block them.

  72. 231

    Benito Aramando

    June 14, 2010 7:55 am

    The irony of all these ad-haters blocking onscreen adverts is that they are actually doing the advertisers a favour. Given that they are generally not the type to even look at ads, let alone click on them, if they were to allow them to show then the advertisers would have a higher view:conversion ratio, and therefore see a poorer return on their advertising investment. It *might* even make enough of a difference to stop them bothering to advertise at all!

    My position is that blocking ads is a *slightly* selfish act. Admittedly I do it myself, however, albeit only as a side effect of using NoScript for security (and note I have taken the altruistic step of whitelisting Google Analytics). About those who do it deliberately I am pragmatic; advertisers have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot by going too far for attention, and you can’t blame people for wanting to block ads given some of the abominations we’ve seen. I no longer hear TV ads because they have cranked up the relative volume to levels I can no longer bear, which is a major own goal in my view. That said, I don’t really have any time for people so rabidly opposed to all advertising on the web that they won’t even accept the legitimacy of a few unobtrusive text ads. So what if they always offer the same products or services?! Just ignore them! Who are you to tell providers of free content that you enjoy how they can or cannot support their efforts!?

    • 232


      You actually bring up a good point about conversion ratios. But I think most advertisers would welcome AdBlockers being banned because their impressions would increase. Many of them are not as concerned about immediate click-throughs, but more about long-term branding and recognition.

  73. 233

    I haven’t owned a TV in years. I just use Netflix. I barely watch Hulu anymore because of the ads. I really do hate ads.

    The reason why I whitelist Smashing Magazine is because some of the ads are quite useful services and products.
    When ads are targeted to me and they not distracting from the content I will whitelist a website.

    Why don’t you remind people to whitelist your site and stop displaying that horrible ad with the flashing green letters!

  74. 234

    WCAG 2.0, 2.2.2 (level A):
    “For any moving, blinking or scrolling information […], there is a mechanism for the user to pause, stop, or hide it […]”

    Adblocking fixes this fundamental accessibility problem many Web sites commit. So I’d like all you privileged folk to think for a second before you say “adblocking is killing the sites you love”, about people who can’t access a large amount of information on the Web without using an adblocker.

    And before you say “but Smashing Magazine’s adverts aren’t animated” – do you expect me to spend 5 minutes on every Web site I like figuring out if the adverts are bearable or not?

    • 235

      Oh, but Tom, they are animated.

      I took the time to unblock this page, felt that I could deal with the right-column animated adverts, then realized the huge, animated ad right below the title of the article was something I COULD NOT tolerate. I re-enabled it. Really, if sites ask us to unblock their ads, then they could, at the very least, make sure the adverts aren’t annoying.

  75. 236

    If ads are blocked automatically, why not try integrating your advertising like most talk radio shows (the host reads the ad, or even improvises the advertisement hitting on a few key points). If you don’t feel comfortable writing an obvious advertisement piece within your site as if it was your own content, then you shouldn’t feel comfortable pushing obnoxious advertisements on your users in the form of graphic banners, flash, javascript popups, etc. Hell, these days most “design” blog posts are just poorly veiled advertisements anyway.

  76. 237

    Silly webdesign people.

    Block an important source of revenue, and you increase the appeal of alternatives. In this case, the main alternative consists of cleverly disguised advertorials.

    So basically, by blocking the unobtrusive and clearly labeled ads you find on most sites worth visiting, you contribute to a reality where the line between advertising and content fades even further than it already has.

    • 238

      That’s fine for me as the reader, but I have a feeling most people who run blogs dislike the idea of heavily incorporating advertising within their content (you know, that dirty feeling you get when you’re not being totally truthful). If they can’t deal with that, maybe they need to rethink advertising on their site and decide if they want to A) make their blog completely free but limit the amount of content/time/bandwidth spent on it as you would any personal project, B) consider a subscription based model where content is only available to paying members. If they go with B, that’s the real test as to whether or not their content is perceived as valuable by their readers as it is by the author.

      I think most design blog authors can’t face the fact that they’re basically writing fluff articles coupled with a few pretty portfolio pictures and they feel that they deserve more for content that’s essentially not valuable enough to look at when it isn’t totally free.

      • 239

        “I think most design blog authors can’t face the fact that they’re basically writing fluff articles coupled with a few pretty portfolio pictures and they feel that they deserve more for content that’s essentially not valuable enough to look at when it isn’t totally free.”

        That is *exactly* right.

      • 240

        Paul, you’re absolutely right about most people who run blogs not wanting to heavily incorporate advertising in their content. So, those people (ie. the honest ones) would effectively get forced out of business by more widespread use of ad blockers.

        Which is good news for people like me, who have no such qualms. Less competition? Yes please.

        Your “pay wall” argument is flawed, however. You see, sites don’t just use content to inform and/or entertain their readers. They also use it to generate the links, tweets, diggs, etc. that attract new readers.

        So if the content is locked behind a pay wall, this severely limits growth. For large sites with a solid reputation (e.g. newspapers), this is a major problem. For small sites that still need to build such a reputation, it’s a death blow.

        Now you might argue that if the content is good, word of mouth will still ensure popularity. And that’s absolutely true – but it might take a few decades.

        Aside from that, your comment about fluff pieces may be somewhat valid, but it also misses a major point. In order to sell subscriptions, quality is not enough – quantity counts as well. Most bloggers simply aren’t able to produce enough content to satisfy paid subscribers, no matter how high the quality of their writings.

        Moreover, even if the blogger in question actually manages to produce the vast quantities of high-quality content that justify a paid subscription, he will still lose the casual reader.

        Most experiments with pay walls have failed conclusively, even those performed by major newspapers with numerous writers on staff and seven figure advertising budgets. When you take into account the fact that economies of scale are a major factor in online publishing, it should be obvious that the outlook for bloggers is even bleaker.

        Right now, there are really only five good ways to monetize content for bloggers. Advertising, advertorials, link sales, direct product sales and using the blog itself as an advertisement for ones own services or products. Of those, advertising is the main one, and if it were to become less profitable, the other options would necessarily increase in popularity.

        I do see potential other solutions which do not rely on advertising, but those would have to be backed by major corporations to have a chance of being successful.

        • 241

          If you can’t turn a profit for the variety of potential reasons you’ve listed, then guess what? As I said before, it might be time to “A) make their blog completely free but limit the amount of content/time/bandwidth spent on it as you would any personal project.” Not interested in working on a design blog that only costs you a couple hundred a year and treating it like a personal hobby rather than your main source of income? Then don’t run one if you can’t be financially successful with it.

          I run several websites with no advertisements and only pay about $200 a year for hosting and domain registration, and it’s a hobby for me. I could try to turn it into a profitable business, but I’d probably have to load my site full of ads and annoy the hell out of my users, or charge for content and have to spend more time on it. It would be doable, but I’d probably even have to run several more sites (running just a single site might not bring in enough revenue), and that’s a financial risk that I don’t feel would be worth it (I’d have to quit my job and start working full time on creating content for multiple sites). The problem isn’t the user who’s using ad blocking software, the problem is the blogger who’s so disconnected with reality that they feel updating a site a few times a week should entitle them to revenue. Blogging isn’t hard, and most design blogs sites just spout the same rehashed tutorials and discussions that we’ve all seen for years. Maybe it’s time to reconsider whether or not running a design blog is a viable career choice.

          • 242

            Sorry, but that’s a load of crock.

            Your argument is essentially that if their ability to turn a profit is impaired when their main source of revenue is compromised, they should instead just work for free.

            A few commercial bloggers might agree with you, but most will simply look for alternative sources of revenue. As it happens, advertorials are a great source of revenue, allowing them to make even more money with their blogs than they do now with advertising.

            The part of your comment that says it all is this:

            “The problem isn’t the user who’s using ad blocking software, the problem is the blogger who’s so disconnected with reality that they feel updating a site a few times a week should entitle them to revenue.”

            Are you #$%^%& kidding me? Running blogs or other sites professionally is *work*, work that entails far more than “updating a site a few times a week.” To create a successful commercial site, you’ll usually have to spend countless hours on promotion, usability/user experience optimization, search engine optimization, sponsor evaluation, A/B-testing, content optimization, etc.

            You maintain blogs for fun, I design websites for fun. Would you say the latter implies that webdesign in general is just a hobby and that those who think they can make a living with it are disconnected with reality and should just do it for free, instead?

            And if you feel that way, do you think it would be an ok thing for me to take, say, all the WooThemes designs and release them for free to promote my own websites? (which is legal, since they’re GPL-licensed)

            You are well within your rights when you block ads. Just like you are well within your rights when you blatantly copy open source designs, cheat on your wife, make loud cellphone calls on the subway, or just behave like a jerk in general.

            So if you want to act like a jerk and block the unobtrusive ads that many of the sites you visit run, by all means, go right ahead. But don’t start crying when you get the sneaking suspicion that more and more of your favorite sites might just be posting some of their articles simply because they’re getting paid to.

            PS. The $200/year hosting made me laugh. Hard. Get back to me when your sites get some actual traffic and you see your hosting bill reach and pass the four figure/month range.

          • 243

            If you’re in it to make money and you’re no longer able to make money in whatever it is you’re doing, you can sit around and whine about how users/customers/consumers are to blame for your business failings, or you can get into another business. If you still feel the need to run any kind of website and you can’t make it profitable or don’t want to take the plunge into something more, just make it an inexpensive hobby instead and spend less time doing it.

            “You maintain blogs for fun, I design websites for fun. Would you say the latter implies that webdesign in general is just a hobby and that those who think they can make a living with it are disconnected with reality and should just do it for free, instead?
            And if you feel that way, do you think it would be an ok thing for me to take, say, all the WooThemes designs and release them for free to promote my own websites? (which is legal, since they’re GPL-licensed)”

            Actually, yes. If you work within a particular niche of web design, like say, only sports websites, and you’re finding that clients are less and less willing to pay you what you feel you’re entitled to, chances are you need to reassess how valuable the work you’re providing actually is, and if you want to rethink your business strategy or just abandon it entirely and maintain it as a hobby instead. Not all businesses are profitable, and if design blogs are potentially failing for some of the reasons you listed in a previous post, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider your line of work if you’re a failing design blog owner rather than attacking people who were willing to accept your *free work without acknowledging your advertisers.

            If it’s legal for you to distribute something, feel free to. You’re trying to imply that it’s the responsibility of users to support blog sites rather than accepting that every business involves taking risks. Going with the *free + advertising model is a risk, and if it doesn’t pay off, reassess your business. Simple as that.

            Also: “PS. The $200/year hosting made me laugh. Hard. Get back to me when your sites get some actual traffic and you see your hosting bill reach and pass the four figure/month range.”

            If you’re spending that much money on a hobby, you’re a fool, and if you’re investing that much money in a web business without a business plan other than blaming the users, congratulations on your failing business, awful hosting company (because WHOOPS all of a sudden you’re bleeding thousands a month). I have a small targeted audience and I do it for fun, it’s not a business, so I don’t see why that’s laughable.

    • 244

      The comment by Thomas hits the nail right on the head.

      • 245

        [Comment removed due to abuse]

        • 246

          Journalistic standards? On the internet? Really?

          Most design blogs, like most other blogs and indeed sites in general, offer mindless entertainment. Someone who visits a blog post titled “40 fantabulous cat-based designs” probably isn’t looking for comprehensive journalistic rigor.

          • 247

            Since the comment depth on SM appears to be limited, this is actually a reply to the post by Paul a bit above this, written on June 16th, 1:12 pm.


            Paul, you post is clear and definitive proof that you just don’t get it.

            It’s not about design blogs (or other sites) being profitable or not. It’s about them continuing using ads or not, and what the alternatives to ads are. Something I already mentioned several times, but which you apparently didn’t pick up on.

            By blocking ads, you’re contributing to a move towards a business model that hurts users, not site owners, the most.

            Most non-flash ads aren’t particularly annoying. They just sit there, stationary graphics in clearly marked corners of the page which you can easily ignore entirely.

            If enough people block ads, most commercial sites will not go out of business. They will just move to using more advertorials and compensated name-dropping – something many sites are doing already. Their profits will stay the same, but they will use different methods to get those profits.

            For you, the visitor, that’s *bad*. It means advertisers spend money on feeding you biased information instead of on hoping to catch your attention.

            It means that the next time you google for information on that new laptop you’re considering buying, the blogs you read might just offer a slightly biased view. It means that the next time you do research on finding a new host that can handle high traffic, the opinions you read may mislead you. It means that the next time you buy a piece of software based on the recommendations you read online, you might find out afterwards that some serious usability issues weren’t mentioned in the review.

            All of this has *nothing* to do with failing businesses. Only those who refuse to adapt to the new paradigm will fail. The rest of us will happily carry on making money, simply changing from sidebar and header ads to paid namedropping, skewed information and biased reviews.

            When social media came along, we made the move from information to infotainment (“25 hamster pictures to inspire you”). If the market demands it, we’ll move from infotainment to advertorials (“25 hamster pictures made using Product X”).

          • 248

            The users aren’t contributing toward any sort of move, it would be the decision of the owner to make that move if their current approach to making money is failing. If they choose to go that route and it works for them, great for them. If a review site thinks it’s going to be more successful writing biased, paid for reviews instead of using banner ads, then good for them. The market will decide, and the users hold no personal responsibility for the successes or failures of any business, including design blogs. There are potential repercussions for the incorporation of any attempt at earning revenue that affect the end user, including the possibility that a site’s reputation could be damaged by even a handful of clearly biased reviews, as you’ve stated as an example. This is not my concern, nor should it be yours unless it’s your business.

            I don’t need to stop blocking ads to save the internet as we know it. Sorry!

  77. 249

    I admit that I 99% of the time browse using a an ad-blocker. And here is why… I am a Christian and also work full-time at my church as a designer. In general I have no problem with blogs or websites having ads on their pages. Unfortunately there are way to many pornography ads out there! Or they are using half-naked women to sell their product. (Maybe you should write an article about how to design without using sex to sell your product) So yes, I use and ad-blocker because I do not want to see those ads, and am trying to control the content that I look at.

    • 250

      You should whitelist Smashing Magazine. Most design related blogs have ads that are targeted to designers.

      What kind of websites are you visiting?

  78. 251

    I use an adblocker, I’ll use it even if Smashing Mag goes out of business. I’ll use it long after your paychecks have dried up and your office is vacant. I’ll use it and laugh from my mountion top about how I’m blocking your ads. I don’t “get it”? Oh, I get it alright… my evil plan is to put you out of business by not viewing your ads! MWUHAHAHAHA.

    I hope you can’t afford the next big Apple product, and your children have to eat regular produce instead of organic! I hope you have to brew Maxwell House instead of some hip little known brand! Oh yes, you will suffer!!! MWUHAHAHAHAHA!

    You know what else I do??? I LISTEN TO NPR AND I NEVER DONATE!!!! HAHAHAAHAH!!!! IN YOUR FACES!!!

  79. 252

    This whole BS about stealing FREE content and not supporting the sites doesn’t hold one ounce of water. No one forced you to create and offer free content on an open system like the world wide web, you chose to do that yourselves and people will consume it anyway they wish. If you want people to pay for it then charge them to see it.

    This whole argument is so blatantly filled with self-serving, self-important greed and utter illogical stupidity that I can’t even believe Smashing would post such drivel. Are you so professionally unethical and underhanded that you create sites for companies without them asking, show it to them and THEN cry because they refuse to pay you for work that they never asked for? That is exactly what you are doing with this article. You’ve taken the design community and portrayed the people as hucksters and con-men running lowlife bait-and-switch schemes. Completely disgusting.

    • 253

      Exactly the kind of attitude that should be removed from the community.

      • 254

        [Comment removed because of abuse]

      • 255

        [Comment removed because of abuse]

      • 256

        [Comment removed due to abuse]

        • 257

          [Comment removed due to abuse]

          • 258

            Oh look… instead of deleting only the parts that actually “abuse”, you (or SM) removed the whole comments and all the otherwise valid points about your problematic reaction are gone too! How convenient!

            I won’t play the censorship-card here because you can do whatever you want on your article but it does speak loud enough.

            Thanks. You’ve disqualified yourself way more efficiently than we could probably ever do.

          • 259

            [Comment removed due to pointing out the glaring holes in Louis’s argument]

  80. 260

    I became aware of most of your points a year ago and ever since then I never used any ad-blocker on web browsers I’m using.
    Good that you point this out, though.

    • 261

      You should block ads by default. Personally I don’t know people can use the internet without it.
      I whitelisted Smashing last year. There are two ads that annoy me but they are only at the beginning of articles. The rest of the ads in the sidebar are typically static. And they are typically in good taste. Some are well designed even.

      If all ads were all static and free from viruses and trojans then no one would bother with adblocker and similar technologies.

      • 262

        Not true. People have shown time and time again that, on the internet, they’ll do anything to get stuff for free.

  81. 263

    I agree with the author’s outcomes if *everyone used an ad-blocker. But that is not, and never will be, the case. Designers make up such a small percentage that if 100% used ad-blockers it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. A few dollars, if any. I personally don’t use an ad-blocker, unless pop-up blocking is considered “ad-blocking.” Ads can be integrated quite nicely into sites and apps, such as Tweetie and NetNewsWire.

    • 264

      My article was referring to ads in the web design industry, not ads in general on the internet. So when I said “everyone”, I was referring to “everyone in the design blogging industry”. So, yes, there would be a huge impact, because hundreds of thousands of dollars every month in marketing revenue would essentially disappear.

  82. 265

    If we re-thought advertising on the web, and make the ads relevant, I mean really relevant to the user or the page content, there would be a valid argument for this post [not to use an ad blocker].

    As it stands now, advertising on the web is nothing more than yelling, shouting “Hey, look at me”. There’s 10 little square banners on this page alone, and most are not relevant to the page content, or even the user.

    Why would I want to create a free flash website when I’m reading a blog post about why I shouldn’t use an ad blocker? There’s nothing to tie the 2 things together. That’s like running an ad for a free oil change on a celebrity gossip blog. Not relevant.

    Until advertisers (and content publishers) understand how to better serve their audiences (and don’t call your audience a target), people are well justified in using ad blockers. Give me something relevant to look at, or I will block you:)

    • 266

      If an advertiser is willing to pay large amounts of money for an irrelevant ad, then let them. You don’t have to click on them. Some others might click on them, and that’s why they’re there. It’s almost impossible to ensure all ads are relevant. Even those by “the Deck” and “Fusion” are often not relevant to the content. I really don’t see a good solution to the problem you’re talking about, but it definitely is something worth improving on, as you mention.

  83. 267

    I can understand and appreciate this perspective (that web designers should support the blog by allowing the ads), but in retrospect, maybe the whole business-model needs to be revised. tutsplus is a good model, where you get free tutorials and pay for the ‘premium’ ones. You guys have the traffic obviously, there are probably other ways to generate $ other than ads.

    I bought the ‘Smashing WordPress’ book by the way to show my support for this site.

  84. 268

    Mr. Krystal

    June 14, 2010 9:28 am

    I never buy products advertised online, blocker or no-blocker. The foolish person is the one expecting a reasonable business plan from online ads alone. I have several websites, none have ads on them. Those I do for fun, I do for fun, and don’t expect financial benefit from (though I have ways people can donate if they like the content, which is a far more direct way for users to show their support). For sites that are not for fun, I get money from the client who pays me to create and update them. Ads play no part in my internet experience, other than to slow down my computer and freeze my browser.

    • 269

      “The foolish person is the one expecting a reasonable business plan from online ads alone.”

      Smashing Magazine, Envato, Ars Technica and CNET called. Apparently they’re shutting down due to their “foolish” and unreasonable business plans. It’s not like they manage to pay their employees, afford pricey hosting, and still turn a profit.

      • 270

        He said “alone”. Smashing has a whole network, sells books, etc. Envato has entire marketplaces where they sell things and take a small cut. Ars was bought by Conde Nast in 2008, so I wouldn’t be too worried about them, and CNet has been a mess ever since they couldn’t keep their TV network afloat, which was hardly an advertising based problem (that station had more ads than anything else).

        What part of “we don’t want to see them” don’t you guys understand? It’s our choice. If a website is solely financed through ads and they’re struggling they either need to find alternative sources of income or increase their traffic with quality content. More ads are not the solution to anything.

        • 271

          I never said more ads were the solution. I’m a firm believer is less ads, higher quality ads, and higher-paying ads. It’s not easy to get an entire industry to bend to your way of thinking though.

          • 272

            Then at least we can agree on that. It’s unfortunately the shady, dancing, blinking, talking flash ads on less than reputable websites that turn most people off. I know that’s 99% of the reason why I have an ad-blocker. If more sites advertised like Smashing or like Ars, then I think we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. You’re right though, there’s more sites that advertise the wrong way than the right way. Maybe, as a community, we strive for advertising quality and reform rather than higher ad penetration numbers.

  85. 273

    I only use Flash Block so I can kill those frustrating flash ads that jump out of their content area and take up half the page. Those things need to die.

  86. 274

    I am disgusted by many of the comments here. If you use an ad blocker, get lost. Don’t come back to Smashing Magazine.

    I’m not an economist, but I can see (and have blogged about) the impending “bubble” this article mentioned. Most ads are sold on a CPM basis (i.e. Advertiser X pays $100 to put a banner ad on a page with 100,000 monthly page views), unlike the much lower-paying CPC (cost-per-click) ads that companies like Google provide. Ad blockers lower the page views the ad network logs, which in turn lowers the amount of money the publisher is paid. The more people there are who block ads, the less money the websites get.

    It costs me, for my small-to-medium blog, about $250 per year for hosting. I have to make that money back somehow, otherwise I couldn’t afford to keep running the site. Larger blogs like Smashing Magazine cost thousands of dollars, and they pay several writers a sizable sum to contribute posts. How do you think Envato can afford to pay their writers $150 for each post? Ads. Like it or not, they are entirely necessary to the online content economy.

    I’ll admit, I do have an ad blocker installed. But I use it as a blacklist. If a website or ad network consistently serves-up ads that greatly hinder my browsing, such as the ones that move across the screen or auto-play sound, I will add the URLs to the blocking list. I do not blanket-block ads, however tempting some web sites may make it.

    • 275

      redwall_hp @ June 14th, 2010 9:38 am: “If you use an ad blocker, get lost. … I’ll admit, I do have an ad blocker installed.”

      Take some of your own medicine and jog on.

      • 276

        Oops. :)

        I meant to say “if you use EasyList or similar.” I don’t mind ad blockers, providing they’re blacklists rather than “smart” filters that block everything.

    • 277

      Natalia Ventre

      June 14, 2010 1:21 pm

      I don’t promote ad blockers, but let’s face it, placing ads is not a business model, if a site with a premium membership can’t pay the authors and other costs with that money and still earn some, they have a serious problem.

    • 278

      Oh yes, I read your blog every day with ad blocker in full effect! AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME!

      … btw your blog is terrible.

  87. 279

    I don’t get how some people see ad blockers as a problem. Let’s take an example real quick tutsplus. They rely on the ads on their sidebar for paying tha authors. If they did what some of you are saying, remove the ads, they would have little income, which means that they would have to shut down for they could not pay their authors. The same is for thousands of sites out there.

    That’s the reason I don’t use ad blockers at least.

    • 280

      John Robinson

      June 14, 2010 10:10 am

      If they would shut down without the income from those ads then perhaps they need to find a better business model?

      This is essentially the same argument that the newspaper industry is making right now. Newspaper content and sales has never been what has turned a profit. Newspapers make money from the ads. Online media is killing the old school newspaper, but instead of adapting to changing conditions many papers will quite happily sit there and die. Or try to force government protection. Or try to charge users for all of their content. Regardless, they are failing because that is not what their customers want.

      The response to the newspapers is the same as it is here – why should the consumer be punished for your failing business model?

  88. 281

    This is an argument you will not win. The fact is, consumers HATE ads, and no amount of reasoning along the very valid lines of “ads are the reason you get content for free” will change their – or my – minds.

    To me, Google is the gold standard for effective and reasonable advertising. Their search based ads are simple, un-intrusive, and often quite relevant to what I’m looking for. The fact that Google is sitting on several billion dollars in cash means, obviously, they got it right. The industry needs to take a note and redefine how and when advertising is delivered to the customer, because so far their tactics have only been reactionary and counter-productive.

  89. 282

    John Robinson

    June 14, 2010 10:00 am

    I’d like to know the author’s (and all ad defenders’) opinion(s) on RSS feeds.

    I notice Smashing Magazine only provides excerpts of posts, and have their feeds full of ads, but many sites don’t. They quite happily serve up an RSS version of complete posts, sans any ads. Google Reader + RSS feeds is a pretty handy way to get all of your content, and a lot of people read this way.

    Are all the people that read the RSS feed that YOU provide also to blame for your loss of “earnings”? Are those people also pirating your content (-fact, as James so interestingly pointed out a bit further above).

    • 283

      If a website allows their articles to be accessed via a web feed, then obviously they have no problem with that, so why would that be piracy?

      And, since feeds can have ads (as you pointed out) then that option is available, so it’s just another way the content is legitimately delivered. In my opinion, when a user blocks the ads, he’s receiving the content in an illegitimate fashion — regardless of what he has (as some have stated) “the right” to do.

  90. 284

    Had a great experience reading this article using Safari 5 Reader. No distracting ads, just the content.

    Ads are mostly pointless to me, I have never bought anything based on ads (I actually hardly spend money at all) and I think I have clicked less then 10 ads in my life. So I might as well block them.

  91. 285

    Personally, I’d rather not use an ad-blocker. I’d like for people who want to provide content to be able to make money without directly charging their users. However, I use an ad-blocker because most of the ad services out there are so bad. Almost all ad services require the use of inline javascript that calls document.load() causing the page to stop rendering until the ad service’s slow and overloaded server responds. It’s not something I’m willing to wait for.

  92. 286

    I only hate flash ads appearing over the main content but adds like here on sm don’t bother me at all – I just don’t see them. But due to the fact that these adds are always in the left column on any of the (design-)blogs I follow, I completely ignore the content on the left side of mostly all typical blog-styled websites. Not only I can’t tell you what kind of add are on right now, I can’t neither tell you what content is underneath them.

    So as web designer or site owner I think you should be aware, that if you put adds on your site, you are loosing the left column space at all.

  93. 287

    Thanks for the article Louis. While I believe this article seeks to provide a solution to a problem we are having right now in the web community, I believe that the majority of developers, advertisers, and companies have lost sight of what’s important here; the consumer.

    We can all agree that the tools consumers use to get information is a constantly changing landscape. What doesn’t change much however is human behavior. Humans live and thrive through relationships. Relationships with other humans. Advertising as a whole has completely lost it’s human factor, ignoring the very people who make decisions wether to buy or not buy, or tell a friend. This is insulting to us humans, because we are intelligent and creative, and we don’t appreciate being disrespected by someone who wants to sell us something.

    Let’s take a lesson from the early 20th century, when Radio was the biggest thing in entertainment, with television just beginning to be a major player. Back then, there wasn’t really a thing called “advertising” per say, that’s because basically everything was an advertisement. Hours upon hours of content sponsored by companies who’s main goal was to sell a product. These extended commercials featured talent ranging from comedy, to music, to drama, and more.

    The difference back then was these companies understood human behavior. When humans place their trust in someone, or hold that individual’s opinions in high regard, they are far more likely to purchase a product they recommend. This is basic human behavior. Companies back then, (and some, although rare, still today) sent time building relationships with the right people, so that these people would recommend their products to their audience.

    The sad state of affairs today is that everyone has just become lazy. Companies stopped trying to build relationships with people, because that takes more work than just paying a fee to put a high-contrast animated gif on a website. Content delivery lost it’s entertainment value, and the people who create that content have forgotten their audience and began to worry more about money and ads.

    The consumer, the free-thinking creative human, has become wise to the laziness and greed of the advertisers and content creators. They are smart enough to understand that just because this animated gif is on a website, does not mean that the person who creates the content actually endorses or uses that product. The consumer has chosen to ignore ads because they see them for what they are. Useless, vestigial boxes that mean nothing to the person who made the content they are viewing. So why should they even care?

    Now companies are saying: “These ads cost us $50,000.00 to place, and took our intern FIVE WHOLE MINUTES to create! Please stop blocking them!”,

    Advertisers are saying: “We are charging $50,000.00 for this thing and the company hasn’t made a cent! We are gonna lose our clients! Please stop blocking ads!”

    Content Creators are saying: “Hey bro, this gig costs money. These ads that I don’t care about and took me 5 minutes to include in my webpage are the only thing that keeps me ‘off the ramen’. Be cool, stop blocking”.

    How do we really think consumers will react to this?

    There is hope for us all. Go back to our roots, learn from the past, and remember the CONSUMER > $$$. Your users are people, not robots.

    Content Creators: we need to seek out companies whom we like, and then endorse them. And by endorsement, I mean NOT a little logo tucked away somewhere. Create content that tells your audience why you like them and use their products. This is integrated, word-of-mouth marketing.

    Companies: Start remembering who pays your bills. HUMANS. And work with other humans to build strong relationships. Find them, befriend them, support them (partnership/monetary), and they will endorse your product.

    Advertisers: Since you’ve never done anything but ruin a good thing, you need to start looking around you because your ship has sailed, ran aground, and just about fully sunk. Advertisers don’t create content, and don’t have a product to sell. They are a greedy middle-man who can easily be replaced by a smart company working directly with a smart individual. So I would suggest you make a shift to help facilitate a more personal relationship between your companies and content deliverers. Also find a day job for a backup plan because you are likely going to be replaced. Air is free, but advertisers will try and find a way to charge for it.

    There are some fine examples beginning to re-surface. People are beginning to write case-studies on product they actually like, and have them IN THE CONTENT on their websites. Television & movies are starting to bring back the integrated advertising.

    One great example I saw, was an episode of 30-Rock, where they were sitting down eating McDonald’s McFlurrys. It was really over the top, but hilarious. And after watching the actors, I actually really really wanted a McFlurry. This to me was a great example of a creative content producer, endorsing a product. The company (McD’s) gave them the freedom to integrate and put their own comedic spin on it as well. In the end, it was not a commercial, or an ad, it was just someone I happen to think is talented and funny, enjoying a product.

    So we should learn from the past, and adapt to the rapidly growing population of tech-savvy consumers. Integrated product endorsement, case-studies, partnerships. Stay creative and don’t be lazy.

    • 288
    • 290

      Giorgo Paizanis

      June 14, 2010 3:58 pm

      Good post, but I disagree with one thing. You speak about product placement like it’s such a great alternative to advertising (ie: McDs in 30 rock), but many people also hate this form of advertising. In fact, some people dislike that more than a typical ad because it is integrated into the show and “ruins the experience.”

      I think that relevant high quality ads can be good for everyone. That’s the revolution we need. Companies need to realize that flashy annoying ads don’t lead to sales (even if they lead to clicks.) However, quality products that advertise to inform people of a great service can be helpful to the consumer.

      I think it is up to the publishers (such as blogs) to man up and deny advertisers who want to place annoying, obtrusive, and irrelevant ads. They should treat ads with the same scrutiny they would place on their own content.

    • 291


      I can’t agree with what you’re saying. You want the line between advertisement and content blurred beyond recognition. Users online don’t want that. So it won’t work in the long run.

  94. 292

    Stan VanDruff

    June 14, 2010 10:41 am

    I actually like ads when they are relevant and unobtrusive. But the Flashing Getty ads running on recent Smashing Magazine posts (like this one) are EXTREMELY irritating. You force me to block ads on Smashing Magazine even though I used to click through to the useful ads on the right side of the page.

  95. 293

    todd garland

    June 14, 2010 10:46 am

    the percentage of people who block ads is still so incredibly small that none of the ad networks (including us at, and we’re very tech heavy) waste their time trying to do anything about it.

    people hate ads, but they like content and those ads keep the content flowing.

    people hate paying for gas, but you have to put gas in your car or else it’s useless.

    people hate paying their taxes, but tax enables the government to operate, build roads, etc.

    ads are like gas for your car or taxes for the government. they’re part of the ecosystem that keeps it alive. if you had to pay for content, would you? I’d guess that 99% of the people who hate ads would also hate paying for the content. but you know what they say about assumptions…

    it’s OK that people hate ads, really. it forces the advertisers and ad sellers to get more creative with their delivery. creativity can lead to innovation. chances are, ads will be here for a long, long time. and, it’s up to us people who make a living from either buying or selling ads to get creative and turn the haters into lovers :)

    • 294

      Great comment, Todd. Thanks for chiming in.

      • 295

        Ultimately a stupid argument. Why? Because if there were a legal way to “Turn off” taxes and “Turn off” paying for gas… I’d do it… and so would everyone else.

        • 296

          That’s the problem, Ben. People shouldn’t be looking for ways to “exercise their rights”. Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.

          And by the way: There is a way to “turn off” paying for gas — don’t drive! Which gets to the heart of this issue — If you can’t afford to read “free” blogs, then you shouldn’t read them.

          • 297

            The gas analogy is even worse now that you’ve made a straw man of it; Good job. While you’re googling what a straw man is, consider this:

            If you can’t get by on your company’s revenue, it’s YOUR fault, not your viewers’. You set up the business model. You developed the site. You’re in charge. Placing the blame for your own failures on strangers with ad blockers is the pinnacle of childishness.

            Just get rid of the ads and start charging subscriptions. I’d pay… at least until another site popped up with similar free content that didn’t cry and moan about ad blockers. That ought to take a week or two.

            Jesus, I bought your damn book. What else do you need?!

          • 298

            On the flip side, if you want to start giving me free gas to view your ads, I’ll happily disable my adblocker.

          • 299

            Ben, I didn’t write a book. This article is not written by SM, it’s written by me. They felt it was a necessary topic to publish, so they did. They agree with the premise, but not necessarily every detail.

            And there’s nothing about my argument that was a strawman. You made the gas analogy, not me. I just pointed out why it clearly made no sense to use it as an argument in your favor. I’m sorry that you disagree, but I’m afraid my argument stands: If you can’t afford to read “free” blogs, then you shouldn’t read them.

          • 300

            I suppose you open every piece of junk mail too? …and watch every commercial on your DVR/TiVo’ed shows? If not, you’re a hypocrite. Then again, if you do, you’re insane. I guess your argument has you in a bit of a pickle then.

            Well good luck with all that. I’m sure you’ll get a few saps to turn off their ad blocking. At least until the ads annoy them enough to start blocking them again.

    • 301

      Can we employ the same penalty towards ad blockers as governments do for tax-evaders? ;)

  96. 302

    Since I installed the particular adblocker I’m using, it has blocked 217,917 ads. And it has blocked 1,010 since I last launched my browser.

    Pure insanity.

  97. 303

    Even if you block users who use adblocking extensions, you’re still vulnerable to something you have absolutely no control of: The user’s HOSTS file.

    It takes about twenty minutes for me to create a HOSTS file that permanently blocks every ad serving domain, and a designer can’t do anything about it.

    Louis, if you’re really that hard hit by ad blockers, maybe you should pursue a different revenue stream like Amazon Associates. Get a referral fee for telling visitors about the books/software/CDs you love to use when you’re working.

    • 304

      When did I say I was hard hit by ads? I’ve made my living primarily by coding and designing websites, so it’s not as important to me as it is to web design blogs and others who rely on ads.

      That being said, I get paid for submitting articles on sites like this, and they could not pay me if they could not display ads — so it does help me to some degree, especially when client projects are slow.

      My whole purpose in writing this article was to help people see that a lot of companies in the web design community are putting a lot of money into the pockets of web designers — and this is great for the community. Why should we hinder this?

      • 305

        You mean you’ve been paid for this piece of crap? Well, I think I’m going to reactivate my adblocker on this article on SM, because I wouldn’t want you to be paid for this.

      • 306

        Louis, I misunderstood. I thought you were relying on ads for payment.

        But even if I replace your name with the name of Smashing Magazine (or any other site), my argument still stands: You can’t get past the HOSTS file.

        And using something like Amazon Associates to earn a commission on the books a designer regards as vital is still a good idea. In fact if I knew an author I liked used a certain book all the time, I’d be more likely to buy it – particularly if the purchase would help fund more high-quality articles.

  98. 307

    I’m not a big fan of intrusive and nefarious ads either, but I don’t think blanket ad-blocking is the way to go. I think most sites, especially blogs who cater to people who make websites, understand that annoying or harmful ads hurt *them* in the long run, and don’t allow them on their sites.

    I ad-block, but only on a case-by-case basis, in the event that some ad is particularly egregious.

  99. 308

    I read this article using the new Safari Reader. Thank you.

    • 309

      Google Reader here… no ads, really. But I came here purely to state that I think this whole article is garbage. Perhaps SM has jumped the shark.

  100. 310

    The internet itself is driven by the user, it is not put into the user’s face without the user requesting the content. Saying that using ad blocking softer is promoting a “me attitude” is ridiculous. Long live users, whatever they choose to do. I hated this article – whatever you choose to do in your browser or on your site is fine, it’s your choice, whatever it may be.

  101. 311

    This is the most absurd article I’ve read on Smashing. This is very similar to something I would expect our current govt to do. How rude of me to block annoying ads that take me to spyware infested sites! Shame on me for trying to enjoy my internet experience! Its very simple really. How about YOU block surfers who have an adblocker enabled????

    • 312

      This article is about blocking ads on Web Design blogs, not the internet in general. Web design blogs don’t post ads that lead to spyware (unless it’s Google ads that can’t be controlled, but even those are very rare, if at all).

  102. 313

    Tomáš Kapler

    June 14, 2010 12:21 pm

    I’m maybe strange, but i like advertisement. Maybe it is because i am marketing profesional, so ads are inspirational.
    But I must say, tha i have probably never clicked any advertisement, my personal CTR is probably somewhere about 0.0001. I’m a bit ashamed of this fact, but I’ll probably never be able to do anything with it. Sorry content providers.

  103. 314

    The only ads I block are the ones my anti-virus freaks out over. Which I think is absolutely fair.

  104. 315

    people that use ad blockers are people that won’t make a click on them if they were visible anyways.
    if i turn off the adblocker i will know where the ads are and i wont mind looking at there, i just notice that they are stuff around that i really don’t care. so making my experience better me, as an user, i just prefer to remove them.

  105. 316

    wicket warwick

    June 14, 2010 12:50 pm

    the day they stop using animated, flashing ads that distract and annoy the hell out of my browsing experience i might consider disabling adblock for a selction of websites i’d like to support.

  106. 317

    When ads are no longer a conduit for malware (or the websites selling the ad space take an interest in all ads displayed on the page and ensure they’re safe) I’ll turn off my adblocker permanently. Until then, I’ll only turn it off for a few select websites.

  107. 318

    Kumail Hunaid

    June 14, 2010 12:53 pm

    Just because you walk into a store, doesn’t mean you have to buy something. Just because you visit a website, doesn’t mean you have to benefit them.

    I do agree however that if you regularly visit a website and if that website respectfully places adverts, it would be thoughtful if the adblocker was disabled.

    In conclusion: Block all ads on the internet but if you like a site & they don’t spam you with ads, disable your adblocker only for that site.

    We can stop arguing & get some work done now.

    • 319

      If you’re reading the content then you’re taking the product.

      Your example actually highlights the issue, it doesn’t defend it.

  108. 320

    Donny Davis

    June 14, 2010 1:06 pm

    Since I have to help people with infections that can be traced back to ads all the time, Ad Blocks will be enabled on my systems and my clients’ systems by default.

    It is not just a matter of intrusive, annoying ads, but also of malicious malware.

  109. 321

    Alex O'Neal

    June 14, 2010 2:07 pm

    Seems to me this is a false dichotomy. Some of the audience I design for use ad blockers, some do not; when I’m designing and testing, I do both. When I run page weight analysis, I run it both with and without ads.

    I use blockers for much of my personal browsing, I don’t for most of my research, and I do both for design and testing of any given web site. Asking me to never use ad blockers, as if all of my audience were unable to use ad blockers themselves, moves my experience into a more limited area, and makes me less likely to understand the design possibilities and needs of my users.

  110. 322

    I don’t block ads. I block Flash. I’m happy to support a website by viewing a simple graphical ad, and if it’s relevant to me, I may even click-through. I don’t even care if the ads are ugly or somewhat obtrusive. If I don’t like it, I just don’t look at it. But I don’t appreciate Flash ads that spike my CPU, bringing my system to a grind.

  111. 323


    June 14, 2010 2:46 pm

    Ad’s in general have begun to take over the web. In much the same way that our television and mail and mobile phone have become overloaded with promotions, sales, and trickery.

    I understand the needs for ad’s. I agree that many websites run on this. However when a website has ad’s literered in the background, the content, the sidebar, at what point does this become ridiculous?

    I will click banner ad’s if i need to purchase a product, as long as that site has informed me of it. I will purchase a blu-ray through an amazon affiliate link, if that site has promoted it to me.

    But why should the experience on a site be hindered and damaged by the advertising which takes more focus and prominence then the content.

    Even looking at this article on a 1680×1050 resolution, the only content i see is : Why Web Designers Should Not Use Ad Blockers (Opinion Column) and “please note” literally the rest of the screen is ad’s (in the content and sidebar) and the top navigation menu.

    If anything, this view? shows exactly why people SHOULD use ad blockers, because basically there’s no article in the top fold of the page.

    • 324

      What if Verizon contacted you before you posted that comment, and offered you $1000 to post a link back to their website in your comment. Would you do it? I don’t think you would hesitate even for a second. That’s the point.

      As long as advertisers are willing to pay the money to advertise their services, and as long as there is a clear distinction between what is paid content and what is not, then I think it works. We can’t blame a website for accepting money to post ads in strange places, because many of us would do the same thing for the right price.

      • 325

        No, that’s not the point. That’s not the point at all, actually, have you read anything of what crashfellow has written? (S)he’s saying that the problem is that the layout is completely crippled with ads and we can’t see anything without scrolling down, even on a large display. And what you’re comparing this to is putting a textual link in a comment… How stupid is this comparison? It would be more like “what if Verizon called you and offered you $1000 to include a script file in your comment that will make a Flash pop-up appear whenever visitors would see the comments?”. What do you think is more ideologically correct? Ruining your user’s experience (as most of the articles on SM try to help you avoid) or resigning the money?

        You’re totally inconsistent: selfishness is acceptable to justify ads, but not to justify blocking them…

        • 326

          Matt, you’re missing the point here.

          The ads are what pay for the content. I’m sorry that this topic has upset you. That’s not my intention. Let’s just disagree politely. If I’m inconsistent, just point it out, and try to be nice. I’m doing my best at that, but if not, then I apologize.

          My point is: Wanting free content with ZERO ads is selfish on the part of the user. The website needs to pay for the content production, and other costs, and they need to make a living in order to feed their families. That’s not selfish. That’s business.

          When users use an ad blocker, they’re taking what they want and they have no intention of giving anything in return. Our community doesn’t need that kind of attitude.

          • 327

            Free content without ads is not selfish. It’s a desire on the part of the user to receive content, without being bombarded with ad’s.

            I’ve been using the net since i was a teenager, so i’ve been around long enough to remember when not every website had ad’s on it, the most ad’s you saw were on geocities websites.

            The primary thing here, is that a website viewer comes to the website to read an article not to be transformed into a banner clicker. For myself personally, when i go through Google? i refuse to click any adsense links. When i go to website’s with random banner ad’s, with an ad blocker blocker turned off i will never click on the random ad. The issue here isn’t ad blockers, the issue here is people (online ad companies/marketers) have the view that every time a person see’s a banner, they are one step away from clicking on it, that people come onto a website to click a banner.

            This works fine in a marketing book? not in reality.

            An issue here is that many of the ads? have absolutely no relevance to you. Many ads sell you bank offers purely based on your location… in that vain, there are websites that randomly follow you from site to site offering you the same deal, or a slightly better one.

            When we talk blocking ads, this isn’t just a great price on a blu-ray, or a recommended host offer, we’re talking ads that have been designed to hound you at every turn and have little to no relevance (see facebook). For those? ad blocker on. For flash ads that take up the entire page? ad blocker on. For 10+ ads which cover an entire page? ad blocker on. Unless people stop attempting to shove ads in people’s faces? this will be a reality. Just like people throw junk mail in the bin, and fast forward ads on the tv.

            Btw – i am a he lol

      • 328

        Any agreement you have with an advertiser to place ads on your website is a contract between you and the advertiser, not your site visitors. Hosting and maintaining your website – including content – are part of the costs of doing business.

        If I can demonstrate through the quality of (free) content on my website that my services will fulfill the needs of potential clients, said clients will hire me. If I am dependent on advertisers to make ends meet, I need to place my focus and energy on improving my services, not how to get more visitors to view the ads on my site. Thankfully, my design work speaks for itself, thus, I have no need to desperately guilt visitors to my site to disable their adblockers.

        For the record, I use adblockers, as well as script blockers, cookie blockers, incoming and outgoing firewalls, and any number of other addons and plugins that protect my privacy and help me control what enters and exits my computer via browsers or otherwise. And nobody who knows me would consider me “selfish”. (Name calling is frequently resorted to by people who have no cogent arguments to support their opinions).

    • 329

      If you don’t like the ads, then don’t visit the site.

      You have absolutely no entitlement to free content. The reason that ads have become more prominent is because people are (more than ever) less willing to pay for things.

      How on earth do you expect any business to be sustainable if they neither charge for a service, nor cover the cost via 3rd party income?

      What kind of imaginary utopia is your brain stuck in?

  112. 330

    I actually enjoy ads, as long as they aren’t popping up in my face every few seconds. It’s interesting to see others creative, whether it be horrible or fantastic, and some are very unique. It’s like going to the super market and taking notice of some product packaging that really stands out and is well done or billboards that stand out form all the rest. Also, having run a site that relied on advertising, I know how it can be to try and make money this way. So, if I frequent a site on a regular basis because their content is useful I’ll click on a few ads even if I’m not remotely interested in them, just to help them make a few bucks.

  113. 331

    Mohammed sudif

    June 14, 2010 3:01 pm

    Actually a lot of times ads could be a source of inspiration or sometimes a useful ad could lead you to the product or service you are looking for, but I’m totally against tasteless ads please if you are a web designer give the guys your opinion on the ad and how people might get the wrong idea if you made your ad improper.

  114. 332

    The article is just wrong. Using an adblocker has nothing to do with one’s occupation. Yes, I use it permanently, it is a self-defence. 99% of those Flash ads are nothing more than visual pollution. I turn them off with an adblocker plugin just like I’m hitting the Mute button on my remote control immediately when a screaming commercial block starts on tv. I don’t agree that designers or developers have to suffer these ads’ negative effect just because we have web-related jobs.

    I happen to know a few people able to create great Flash designs. To make some extra income every once in a while they do ads on the side. More than once I asked them why those Flash banners were so obtrusive, annoyingly ugly, and eye-hurting. All of them gave me the same answer: to meet their visually uneducated clients’ expectations. Since the ad creation pays much less than building whole sites, the designers don’t waste their time trying to educate their clients. They do the job, take the money, and browse the internet with their adblocker switched on too.

    This situation won’t change with a “let’s take the **** because it’s fair” grassroots movement. When the people who are responsible for the visual pollution change their practice, the visitors might change their habits too.

  115. 333

    Giorgo Paizanis

    June 14, 2010 3:39 pm

    First, I’d like to congratulate you on creating an article that provoked so many comments. I originally intended to read all of them before posting my opinion but the list just kept going and after about half way, I had to just skip to the end and post…

    Annoying ads bother me just as much as the next guy, but I appreciate the fact that I can pay for quality content with my attention instead of actual dollars. And that is exactly what we are doing. If you don’t want to pay directly for content through membership, then be prepared to sift through some ads.

    On the other hand, if I was an advertiser I wouldn’t want to include in my web analytics people who willingly install software on their computer just to avoid an ad or two. Just take them out of the mix and let me track what might actually result in clicks (or sales).

    Still, I think that it is a little selfish to use software to view websites without ads while those sites are providing quality, free content based on their ability to take in ad revenue. That is sort of like using pirated software or music because “it should be free anyway.” Why should it be free. Someone has to spend time and effort and if they provide good value then they should be able to make a living and continue to do the service. It’s even more messed up to deny these benefits to design / tutorial blogs because they are probably helping you make money for your own business.

    So, if you are an advocate of ad-blocker software, then you should also advocate for membership based – ad free – websites. Otherwise you are just manipulating the system and being selfish.

    • 334

      Good comment, Giorgo. To add to what you’ve said… Content on web design blogs should not be free unless haircuts, apartment rentals, sandwiches, and automobiles all become free. If there’s no balance, the economy suffers.

      • 335

        Well, then why not start charging a fee and see what happens to your blog? My bet is you will see a dramatic decrease in visitors and you will make MUCH less money than if you allow everyone to visit your site with ad blockers enabled.

  116. 336

    What a load of rubbish. Do you think I want to be reminded of what I do for a living when I am not at work? Especially when the majority is both not relevant or inspiring. If I want inspiration I come to places like SM – or – Do the research into related material myself. I don’t need some screaming $2 ad to cloud my judgment of the “latest trends”. If I want to buy something, again, I will research the best buy – for me.

    The whole point of a personal computer is to create a personal experience including in the online space. I watch shows on line to escape TVC’s… because I want to.

  117. 337

    Since the piracy argument has been made and many people argue that they wouldn’t bother paying for music, but they’d certainly download it for free, you should ask the question “Do users find my content valuable enough to have to tolerate advertisements?” If the answer is no, even for those who insist on adblocking, you then have to ask yourself if the potential exposure is worth the cost of bandwidth, etc.

    Then, of course, you have to consider the additional exposure those users may be creating for your site through sending friends links, “liking” articles on social networks, etc. Even if they’re using adblocking, there’s additional potential revenue they may be making you, even if it isn’t as “direct” as viewing advertisements.

  118. 338

    My biggest issue with ads is that the more we try to block them, the more intrusive they are becoming. You can’t watch a video clip anymore without having to sit through a 30-60 second advertisement. Sometimes they even disable sound options on these ads so you can’t even turn them down or mute them without shutting off your speakers entirely.

    If continuing to ad-block means we are just going to keep having the ads forced down our throats in more and more intrusive ways then I would be all for going back to the ‘old days’ where you could simply ignore the flashing ad on the side of the pages.

    Ideally I think a compromise is in order between the consumers and the advertisers, but ultimately it’s the kind of thing that the market will have to work out itself. If enough people get upset with crazy ads which jump through hoops to get to us, they will stop supporting the sites that run those ads.

    I do understand that ads are a necessary part of the equation, but the advertisers are going to push their luck too far if they’re not careful. The business model has to change.

  119. 339

    i use a flash blocker wherever i go tho.

  120. 340

    To me it sounds like you guys are clinging for dear life to banner ads. They are going away and you should come up with another way to support your business. You shouldn’t rely on convincing your visitors to not block your ads. Ad-blockers are not selfish, expecting your customers to do something they don’t want to get to your content is selfish. Figure out a new way to monetize your content and lets all move forward.

    • 341

      This article is not written by Smashing Magazine. I wrote it, and I came up with the idea. They had no influence on the content of it, so it has nothing to do with whether or not they are “clinging” to their banner ad revenue.

  121. 342

    I dont generally post but this article has piqued my interest simply for the amount of varied comments.

    The biggest downfall for pretty much all web-vertising is the hosting of these adserververs, I’ve bailed countless times on sites where “” stalls killing the rest of the page loading – 9/10 the rest of the page is what I’m interested in. Google invest mega $$ in their infrastructure to meet demand and to supply a seamless experience, yet ad companies dont seem to be following the same process producing an often annoying and nearly always fractured experience.
    I’d like to hear why these “blog” sites would die without adverts ? Like starting any business – if the it’s going to cost you more than you can afford to run it then you must re-think what you want to achieve or reduce your expectations.

    From the master Seth Goldin: Finding new ways, more clever ways to interrupt people doesn’t work.

  122. 343

    One of the things I loved about the web when I first came to it… a long long time ago… was the wonderful LACK of advertising compared to other mediums. I passed the point of tolerating the ads a long time ago. I don’t run an ad blocker, I have briefly in the past but now I just run a flash blocker which incidentally blocks some ads too. However the flash blocker IMHO just makes flash work the way I always thought it should have, ie click to flash.

    Call me an anarchist but I think people are free to block ads, just as content owners are free to adopt alternative distribution models (pay walls) if they feel that would serve them better. Personally I look forward to paying for higher quality content and seeing fewer ads.

  123. 344

    There is a profound amount of asshattery in this article. First, only web design blogs deserve to not be blocked?! What kind of logic does that follow? If I visit an automotive site, is it okay to block ads there as long as I don’t drive a car? Second, if ads were of high quality and targeted, and not so overly plentiful, as seen above and to the right, maybe blockers wouldn’t be used. See the oft mentioned Fusion ads as the perfect example. Midol doesn’t advertise during football games. The reason? It’s not their target market. If you just throwing up any ad because someone is willing to give you money, your visitors are free to skip/block them.

  124. 345

    destiya dian

    June 14, 2010 7:13 pm

    Personally, I prefer to see ads than to pay for the content. as long as the ads don’t disturb me to read the content..
    And I think, most of design blogs use responsible ads..

  125. 346

    Nick Yeoman

    June 14, 2010 7:26 pm

    I do all my development on a machine with an ad blocker. I do all my testing on a separate machine without an ad blocker.

    The only reason this would be an issue is if you don’t have your testing procedures in place. Get VMware it will save you tons of time.

  126. 347

    The problem is the non creation of intelligent targeted ads.People, the truth is that not a lot of work is put in to developing real ads.Intelligent ads and new non stressfull methods of involving the user/targeted person.

    It’s quite normal for a design person to reject poor quality advertising.We are talking about not your usual user.Come on,show some respect.!!

    The “click and put up with tons of it” just for the site to “survive” is no longer a strategy.Not for this area.

    Saying u are a bad bad person for using an ad blocker is just childish.

    This is not the answer teamsmash!

    Maybe you should engage the community in finding new, smart, efficient ways to advertise.Ways that are not so stressfull.Here, i think, is the real answer.

    Letting a design person know that this is the solution and this is what he/she should do is at least narrow minded.
    A more creative approach to this problem is actually what this article should do.

    A lot of this kind of articles recently.
    Too aggressive for me.This “give me more for the content” approach is not a good sign.

    I belive that this is just a masked questionnaire


  127. 348

    If someone can write an ad blocker, it would be just as easy to write something that not only blocks the ads but creates a “fake click” on each one, so that the websites you frequent can get the money for click-throughs, while the visitor is not annoyed by a bunch of stupid ads. Somebody should get to work on that so that the Internet doesn’t disappear soon ;)

    Ad blockers in browsers are not doing anything to increase OR decrease your sales. You can have 1 big ad on your site or 15 small ads or whatever. If people see them but don’t click on any it doesn’t make you money. It is generally only when visitors actually click on the ad that you get the revenue from it. That is, unless you charge the advertiser ahead of time, which means you’ve already made the money and it doesn’t matter.

    How many people do a search in Google and click on the results that come in the the first yellow box at the top of the results page? I know I never do. Why? Because they are paid search advertisements. They may offer something relevant, but chances are I’m going to find better sites content-wise in the organic search results.
    Similarly, if I’m watching tv and a commercial comes on, yes I’ve seen it, but that is not going to make me go out and buy whatever product or service it was advertising. All advertisers are taking a chance by paying for advertising. There are no guarantees.

    If a blogger thinks that he/she is offering a valuable service to the community they can always put a little paypal donate button on the blog. No guarantees there either, but I know I’ve donated to places like NeoOffice and Cyberduck because they are offering a valuable service (and product).

  128. 349

    Designers should spend less time complaining about ad blockers, and more time designing ads or a way of delivering ads that is no where near as intrusive as they’ve become. Sure they serve a purpose, but they also completely distract the user from the content. There was a time when an ad what as a small white google box off to the side with a few google links in it… or even at the bottom of the page for a user to look at afterwards. You noticed them but they weren’t distracting, and occasionally they had relevant content too. If people want me to stop using an ad blocker, they can start by improving the browsing experience so I don’t feel like i’m visiting their site to view advertisements.

  129. 350

    Yea of course i use ad blockers. should i not use a pop up blocker as well because it could contain an ad?

    I only block specific ad sites. and i do so because i find their ads to be very invasive/abrasive to my browsing experience.

    if your giving me a flash ad with 3D content and all kinds of fancy effects and my CPU is pegged at 100% because of your 72×900 ad… your blocked.

    but if you give me a noninvasive nicely designed ad that is relevant to my needs… then heck i may even click it.

  130. 351

    Martin Chaov

    June 14, 2010 9:11 pm

    Ads are not bat, sometimes I like just watching a nicely done advert, or just a beautiful banner.

  131. 352

    Zeebrugse Zot

    June 14, 2010 9:31 pm

    Nice try, but my blocker is here to stay.

    I wouldn’t mind paying a reasonable fee to visit a quality website as Smashing tho.

  132. 353

    If nothing else, this article has given me even more reason to switch to Firefox just so I can get a better adblocker. I am fed up with crappy unskilled in your face advertising crap that destroys the browsing experience every good designer tries to build into the site. I also sincerely hope that by using adblock and encouraging everyone I know to use it that we can drive out these worthless spam sites that have a million keywords and 3 line articles and scraped top 10 lists. they waste my time and clutter up Google, and destroy the web experience. I think I’m going to deliberately visit Louis website with FF/adblock just so he has another excuse to complain about something he should be smart enough to figure out a better alternative.

  133. 354

    just now realized that I use a pop up blocker by default and its great because i don’t think about it …

    “Designers should spend less time complaining about ad blockers, and more time designing ads or a way of delivering ads that is no where near as intrusive as they’ve become.”

    this logic doesn’t work

    I think if all ads are blocked then ad’s will become more integrated into blogs to the point where you would just have to block all images and then we are back to the days when i was in 6ths grade and we would turn off images so we could surf the web faster….

  134. 355

    one of the worst articles on smashing for years. you shouldn’t give someone a forum who is looking for somebody to dupe and who is “raising his voice” to spread poorly researched and biased information.


  135. 356

    to refer to the actual cartoon: worst post ever :P

  136. 357

    Not all sites need adverts – just check out DubLi. FWIW, I don’t really use an ad blocker, I just ignore them. I do, however, have a pop-up blocker since they drive me CRAZY.

  137. 358

    I use an ad blocker to protect my computer from malicious sites. I am a beginning designer and support my own site. Not all users have an ad blocker. I think we are all being a little self-righteous. (some click, some don’t, im happy for the visit).

    What if the government or other regulating entities make the same claim and justification for not using/using their products or services, would you be so quick to gripe about it.

    Thats the wonderful thing about the internet, it should be free of choice and of charge.

    Some sites like msnbc have developed a Flash Player that wont work if you use an ad blocker.(im thinking of changing brands) i don’t need anybody forcing me to use a product because it interferes with their profitability(Apple), and i use a Mac :-)

    Then internet is to big to start pushing people around and limiting their freedoms.
    Lets wait a few years and we will all be restricted in our use of the internet if this type of thinking prevails.

    • 359

      Funny… msnbc works great for me! I use Firefox with Adblock and the adblocking hosts file from “” (great file, love it). I haven’t felt the need to use greasemonkey yet.

      Frankly, if you are someone who occasionally clicks on the ads then fine. But personally, I have never clicked on an ad. They are always obtrusive to me. When I want something, I search for it (ever heard of google?)… Then I check the reviews… Then I go to the site (and behold, the only time I will click on an ad).

      If ads work for you, great! Don’t block ’em… But as for me, I will always block them. And if a site won’t let me use it with adblocking, then I’ll just never use the site. And if it’s a crazy enough site that I need to use it, I’ll install greasemonkey, and block the ads that way.

  138. 360

    I almost forgot i also use anti-virus, a firewall and no script. should i stop using these also?

    • 361

      Yes, noscript and flashblock are also both requirements for any system that I setup or use!

  139. 362

    I started posting a comment and then found I had a lot more to say on the subject of ad blocking and why, as a Web Developer, I think it’s a good thing:

  140. 363

    Caspar Hübinger

    June 15, 2010 12:28 am

    Louis, thanks for the article. It really got me thinking.
    I’m a freelance webdesigner and my clients are mostly other freelancers and small businesses. I’m not much into the “big design scene”, so to speak.
    I have been using an adblocker ever since I ran into one for Firefox. Never have I wasted a thought on the potential usefulness of actually noticing ads on websites. I do now, and I will configure the plugin more carefully, because you hit on a simple truth I just hadn’t applied to the very topic so far: “nothing is truly free” – and I’d add: nor does it need to be as long as every human being has the potential to create.
    Thanks again.

  141. 364

    If adblockers were illegal, I wouldn’t surf the Web

    I call BS.

    Also: if adblockers were ubiquitous, there would be 80% less web. And it wouldn’t be only the bad blogs and sites dissapearing. Stuff like smashingmagazine or Daring Fireball would be out of the question too.

    Hell, imagine a popular adblocker add-on with wide browser penetration that could also block text based Google ads…. Even Google, could fall.

    I would be happy to pay for content I like, with a micropayment scheme, so I can say, pay $1 per month on my favorite blog or $2-5 dollars per month for content-heavy sites like smashingmagazine. I would have like a $20 web-content bill per month and much better quality content. But that has to be as effortless as breathing (like buying a song from iTunes sorta is).

  142. 365

    As with any topic there are always (at least) 2 sides, and this is simply a rehash of an argument that’s been brought up a number of times earlier in the year []

    I’d just like to weigh in with a few points/opinions of my own:

    1. Not all people who block ads do so intentionally, or even want to – I use the NoScript plugin which, by blocking JS by default will stop BuySellAds & co’s ad serving code in its tracks.

    In some cases I enable JS for the site I’m viewing, so the ads appear, but you can’t expect people who browse hundreds of sites a day to set up and maintain a whitelist.

    So I’m not being ‘me first’ with regards to ads, I’m simply looking out for my own security on the web first and foremost.

    Perhaps Smashing & co. should make available a NoScript whitelist file for the sites in its Network?

    2. I agree that in many cases ads don’t have the same problems as those of old – they’re now small, static images (usually 125×125) – but they’re still being implemented in ways which are annoying to readers. Some sites have added so many ads to their sidebars (and main content areas!) that in manycases useful content such as category lists etc. are pushed hundreds, if not thousands of pixels down the page.

    And depending on the design of the site the ads may jump so far out of the page (as they are designed to do) that every single time you view a page your attention is distracted – not for long I’ll grant you, but it can still be very annoying.

    3. As for whether the design community would exist without ads on blogs I have 2 things to say:

    a) Blogs existed for a long time (and still do) without ads, and did quite well, because the individuals writing them did so purely for the fun of it.

    Monetisation of blogs is not a pre-requisite for a community or network of sites. I’ve not got a problem with good blogs making money for their effort but…

    b) …something that’s always concerned me is the possibility that the desire for revenue will overtake the desire for simply publishing good content, and I think this can be seen all over the place, including on this network.

    Sites that started off with 2/4/6 ads in their sidebars now have 10+, plus banner, in-content, and header/footer ads all over the place, actively in the way of the very content which made them popular.

    And more and more they’re publishing blatent filler or link/comment-bait posts in order to increase links and impressions – which makes them more attractive to advertisers – and sacrificing quality in the process.

    4. Ads blockers won’t destroy the blog advertising business, but even if they do so what? I just means that your business model doesn’t work – find a new one.

    Premium content, subscriptions, ebooks, conference speaking – people will ALWAYS want something for nothing, but there will always be ways to make money from your ‘free’ content.

    • 366

      If you’re blocking javascript then you’re missing out on a whole lot more than just ads. I find it hard to believe you have any kind of usable experience on the internet without JS tbh.

      Who blocks JS anymore anyway? What is this 1995? What imaginary security risk do you think that JS poses?

      Maybe you’re thinking of Java?

  143. 367

    Sanchit Thakur

    June 15, 2010 1:34 am

    Louis I second that.

    If our clients on Web won’t make money, who will suffer in all this?

  144. 368

    If content is multi-paged-2-liner with 10-liner ads on each page, my ad-blocker goes to work …
    Be reasonable and keep a good content to ad ratio on the page and you will see how people support …

  145. 369

    First of all I think, opinion columns on SM is a great feature. This particular piece by Louis may have provoked users because of “Me-First” label; but it resulted in discussion that also raises some important points for design blog owners.

    I agree with Louis that ads are necessary for large number of design blogs to survive. But, designers do have to share some responsibility. I think most website owners (specially belonging to web design community) need to pay more attention to quantity, type, placement and relevance of ads in their website.

    Although I have never used any ad-blocker, I believe their existence is fully justified and I will not support any campaign to ban them. However, I would like to see blocking ads on per site basis instead of providing a universal switch to ban ads on all websites. Per site blocking will force publishers to pay more attention to quantity, type, placement and relevance of ads in their website – otherwise I believe even uglier form of in content advertisement spreading all over.

  146. 370

    I only disable certain types of ads. Normally when I visit design web blogs I’m at work, and at one point a certain provocative ad for some online game called envoy I think was doing the rounds. Clearly NSFW but the stupid ads were everywhere. Also there have been times where an ad will pop up covering the content, and now matter how many times I click to close the stupid thing stays open. Only remedy is the ad blocker.

    So I mainly use ad blockers on a need to basis.

  147. 371

    I spend quite enough of my attention on advertising. Involuntarily.

    Anything I can do to take back some of that, I’m going to do.

  148. 372

    Wait a minute… I am in my home, on my free time, and I should stop and worry about the economics of all the websites I surf and block the ads?

    Can I call the company reps at home with questions on the service/product? Could I have their I.P address in case I want to check up on them? Nah, it is my time, not corporate ‘sell time’ on a TV channel. Web commerce is doing fine and will continue to do fine without users worrying about each ad they block starting some Vietnam War-type domino effect toppling the entire web.

    This article basically is also a ‘me first’ plea from someone who thinks they have something to lose if you block too many ads. If you are going to argue the point for not blocking ads on the grounds of commerce, you can argue that in capitalism, the choice to turn off the ads is the market speaking to you and your system of ads. Maybe it is a model that just isn’t meant to work, long term.

    If that worries you, the fact that @80% of people polled do not like be targeted by ads based on personal info. It is likely to see some sort of legislated ‘no target’ list, similar to the ‘no call’ list for telemarketing.

    • 373

      It’s up to you what content you consume. But if you don;t like their payment method, then stay off the site.

      No one is forcing you to be here; you want to consume the content, and the cost of that consumption is ad exposure. Don’t like it? Then get lost.

      Same goes for Facebook haters. I dislike their terms of use, so I don’t use Facebook. But the number of people that shout and scream about how horrible they are and continue to use their fee-less services, the irony is astounding.

      Why are you entitled to have whatever you like?

  149. 374

    Michael Tefft

    June 15, 2010 5:23 am

    I use an ad blocker all the time. Too many sites have so many ads that it significantly adds to the load time and detracts from the readability of the site. I don’t see how using an ad blocker makes someone a selfish person. Unless I am mistaken (it wouldn’t be the first time), you only make money on ads if someone clicks on the ad. I don’t visit web sites to shop, (unless it is a site I specifically go to to shop) so I never click on ads that appear on web sites. When web sites start to limit the ads on their pages to a level that is not absurd, I may stop using ad blockers. But until that happens I will continue to use an ad blocker and feel no guilt.

    • 375

      Depends on the site. PPC is one of many models of online advertising; sometimes it’s exposure, visitor count, conversion etc. etc.

      My favourite news site sells advertising based on hits. So a significant number of blocked ads would impact their income – and the thought of losing that news source because of people like you infuriates me.

      I also never click on the ads. But that’s for the advertisers to worry about, not the content creators.

  150. 376

    This is total bull****.

    You’re saying a Dentist better not brush his own teeth, a Doctor needs to keep on smoking and a Farmer shouldn’t be a vegetarian.

    Ads suck. They are not effective. Users hate them. But why then do we still use them? Because companies are afraid to switch over to different businessmodels.

    • 377

      Giorgo Paizanis

      June 16, 2010 10:15 am

      That logic made no sense at all. Some ads are effective otherwise companies wouldn’t spend money on them. I’ve discovered a few products (even though it’s rare) through banners.

      However the ads are too abundant and that decreases the effectiveness and frustrates everyone. Publishers should just keep the ads minimal, be highly selective, and charge more to the individual advertisers instead of trying to make money on the next ad.

      Quality over quantity would make things better for everyone.

    • 378

      Are you drunk or just stupid?

  151. 379

    I use Adblock Plus
    but allow ads from certain sites like smashingmag.

  152. 380

    Labeling an article as an opinion should be placed in a blog category. As far as I know smashing magazine is a site that shares insights and inspiration. However, this article has “smear campaign” written all over it. It points out a call to action, which is to stop using ad blockers. And it sounds like a PR statement.

    I’m not saying that the article is bad. All I’m saying is that your argument is construed because you are using the ends to justify the means. The ends being the ads, to which we all know wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the countless internet users and their contents shared across the globe.

    The design blogging community wouldn’t be here without their passion to create and showcase their work. The design blogging community wouldn’t be here if they didn’t continuously post quality content to attract an array of internet users.

    Remember the time when you were willing to pay for your own website? Remember the time when you believed you had enough ideologies you could change the world? Well apparently, like all yuppies’ sob story, some people are corrupted by the money driven corporate world.

    • 381

      Wanting to put a roof over your head and pay your bills isn’t being a yuppy. It’s being sensible.

      The cost of the content isn’t your choice, it;s the content creators choice. If you don’t like that cost, then don’t consume it.

      I assume we won’t be seeing you again?

  153. 382

    Think of it like this,

    instead of me paying for the content on the site, or a download pdf or what ever people keep saying would make money in place of ads, the adverting company is paying my fee!!

    what is bad about that?

    If I had to choose between paying for content on websites or seeing ads, if that was the really choice (which people keep suggesting) I would choose to see ads, and until people pay for all there content I don’t believe for a second that people would opt to pay for every blog they read.

    Instead online what we keep seeing is very time people work hard to create paid content, users start pirating.

    by looking at ads, we pay with our eyes and another company with real money pays with dollars, I would rather keep paying with my eyes.

    You could test people by having a paid membership where the ads go away when you sign up. doubt many would sign up but it would be interesting.

    • 383

      That’s the test for how valuable users perceive content. If you force advertisements and prevent ad blocking users from viewing the site and it severely affects your traffic, your content has been perceived by many as not worth viewing if they HAVE to view ads. If you adopt a subscription model and it severely affects traffic, your content has been perceived as not worth paying for. At that point, it’s time to consider the possibility that the service you’re providing is not worth more than a 100% free view by most. If your goal is to make money, logic would dictate that you should reconsider what content you plan to provide, or if running your own blog is even a viable business decision. The internet is expanding exponentially, so obviously there are going to be an exponentially increasing number of failing blogs and websites where 5-10 years ago they might have been more successful due to the limitation of content available online.

      Stop acting like you’re entitled to anything other than a chance in the market with an idea and a business plan. If you fail you have no one to blame but yourself.

      • 384

        I am not saying i am entitled to anything i am just point out that maybe the current business model is not so bad… because i don’t have to pay for content.

    • 385

      One thing successful blogs do is tell a company they would like to do a review on their product, or mention that they like a product and they would give it a review on their blog, which has such and such traffic and so many hits a day. They then say to the company- “if you want me to do this, pay me X amount of dollars for the review.” The company either says yes or no. That’s a way to make money, and a way for people to get a review on a product from someone they ‘trust’.
      The internet is so vast and huge, that the usual rules of capitalism are different since websites and content you can view on the web has not yet been judged to hold monetary value. I’m not speaking of buying website space or products sold, but the actual viewing of content.

      • 386

        I’d much rather read ad supported content, than biased content paid for directly by advertisers.

        It’s odd that you think that would be MORE and not less savoury.

  154. 387

    You’re trying to make customers conform to a business model rather than the other way around. Your business model should reflect that of your customer/user base, so if 80% of your users value not viewing advertisements you need to consider whether your user base is even a group work targeting for revenue, and if they are, how much they’d spend in order to view your content if you adopted a subscription model. It’s really simple, people! There’s a reason why iTunes is so wildly successful but major record labels/distributors who choose not to work with iTunes/digital distribution companies have been suffering financially. One was willing to adopt a new business model to mirror their potential customers, while the other is still trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

    Additionally, maybe you should consider _multiple_ streams of revenue to supplement potential losses from ad blocking software (assuming those are actually losses). Many sites have adopted a hybrid advertisement + premium model, where advertisements are displayed for non-subscribing members, and premium content is provided for subscribers. This is also a great indicator for how much time you should spend on your free content vs. subscriber content based on how much you make from each group. There are so many ways to take control of your own web blog/business without blaming others. Don’t be lazy.

    • 388
    • 389

      I would like to point out the iTunes is a big company taking business from other big companys and in this case the artist are still screwed. It doesn’t change the fact that the music industry is still messed up where the artist just gets whats left over.. so i think music is not the model we should follow.

      You are right the model will change, and most likely it will continue to be a complex mix of different types of profit creations. But as some point with all business the money will be coming from users

      • 390

        iTunes is GIVING money to record labels and artists that would otherwise receive nothing because people would download the music using bittorrent. Where have you been living?

        • 391

          I have been living knowing people who have record deals, your right in a way they are making something instead of nothing.

          What I am saying is that yes the artist is now making .09 cents on the dollar for a song instead of nothing, but that’s still a crap system because the content creator (the artist) gets the very short end of the stick, I pray this doesn’t happen to the blogging industry.

          Tho i am not saying ad blocking would cause this, but i am saying don’t look at the music industry as a good example

  155. 392

    Yes, I have a me first attitude. Anyone else found their computers over-run with viruses and having to re-install their operating system because of ads? (and I am talking about high traffic, popular sites where you would not expect foul play)

    Now I have super beefy protection, but when I find a blog/website I like and then find I have to run a sweep or scan after visiting it, I’ll just give up on the site and not go back, thus, hurting that particular site even more. So I need ad blocker. It helps load the content faster, it protects my computer, and Like other comments I’ve seen, until they make it so ads are actually aesthetically matching the site, they harm the design of the site.

  156. 393

    Unbelievable article… of the morals of displaying ads…
    If people hide them, maybe there is a reason for that don’t you think. Maybe they are bothered..
    I think that instead of preaching for the annoyance, you should spend time trying to think of a better business model.

    But at least it creates the debate! :)

  157. 394

    Wow hot topic, 315 (316 now) comments!!

    With more than 50% of you saying you block ads, you are basically saying that if this site was to go down that you wouldn’t care !
    A couple months ago Smashing Magazine was begging us to ‘give them money’ and to click their ads so they can keep giving us FREE content!!!

    Ads are part of life, some jingles make you buy stuff, and the next person go crazy and googly eyed.
    We are hit with more ads than you can block. Accept it, it’s the web.

    Now SPAM!!! There is something we should all work on getting rid of together !!

    • 395

      Great point we should draw a line between ads and spam… the questions is how. I think there has been a lot of ad blocking do to fear of virus and tricky ads, or take over ads, this should be stopped, but ads in a sidebar, that doesn’t seem so bad

      • 396

        Giorgo Paizanis

        June 16, 2010 10:24 am

        I agree totally, but let’s kick it up a notch. Publishers should also be selective about the ads they choose to allow. Ads should be relevant and have the potential to be useful to the reader. Also the ad design should compliment the blog design. Magazines already do this, but some blogs haven’t quite figured it out. For example, you won’t see cheesy 2.99 deals with large colorful starbursts in high end magazines. Not only would that be out of place, the editors of the publication wouldn’t allow it.

        • 397

          I think your on to something here, I have read financial blogs where they are very careful about the ads they show because they don’t want to encourage bad loans or investments.

          its easy to make the connection because its seems like money, here in the design world its the same, ads on this site make me think or its lagit because its on smashing thats part of the power,

          so smashing responsibility maybe to make sure i am not getting ripped off by there ad, which i am guessing they do

  158. 398

    Wouldn’t it be great if all articles on this site didn’t start off with an ad. If you are running a site as a sole stream of revenue, then I get that certain sites need the ads, and that’s fine, but do us all a favor and keep the ads out of the content. By placing ads in the content you are just giving the reads the middle finger in a sense.

  159. 399

    Shame, but until lot of web authors are including viruses, spywares and other bugs into pages, I won’t turn off my NoScript.

    I am not using AD blocks, but NoScript removes them almost all, mainly because they are almost everytime served using JavaScript.

    I do understand your opinion, but the treat is too high.


    • 400

      Giorgo Paizanis

      June 16, 2010 10:28 am

      I see nothing wrong with this because it is just protecting your computer. Advertisors need to work harder to ensure safe delivery of ads if they want to break through. That’s really a different story.

  160. 401

    While I don’t use adblockers directly, I do use and recommend the free Readability bookmarklet ( ). You use it on a page-by-page basis, and it’s a good compromise for articles you’d like to read but popup landmines and intrusive ads keep getting in the way.

  161. 402

    coming from a site that sells 1/3 of its canvas. nice.

  162. 403

    Rudy Sanchez

    June 15, 2010 1:02 pm

    I use an ad-blocker, I have ever since I’ve been able to do so. The web evolves, technology moves forward.

    Now, as far as this whole “we need to support the community,” are these same people buying newspapers and skewing craigslist and google news?

    I love Smashing, and when the opportunity came to support them (like buying their book) I did so. Everybody needs to adapt and change to technology. Lots of people write and publish online as an ancillary to their primary business, and if we really want to support them, let’s support their businesses and keep them profitable so they can continue to devote part of their day online.

  163. 404

    Until advertising companies guarantee that all of the syndicated ads they run will never contain malware, trojans, cross-site scripting and so forth, I will ALWAYS run ad blocking software.

    Given how common these kind of attacks have become, and given that they have originated from “legitimate” web advertising firms, allowing ads is not even an option.

    Really, I’m surprised at the naivete expressed in this article. My IT security contacts almost require this for everyone in my organization.

    • 405

      BuySellAds, The Deck, Fusion Ads, etc. They don’t run any Flash ads. They’re just plain image files. You can’t get malware through there.

  164. 406

    So I cant ignore the tv commercials because that may kill tv??? P2P is killing music??? Come on, this is a very ignorant post, very selfish, you want money from you ads, thats all. Shame on you!!!!

    • 407

      Giorgo Paizanis

      June 16, 2010 10:30 am

      TiVo is an example of what happens to tv when ads are bypassed. It did effect the number of advertisers and subsequently the quality of content.

  165. 408

    One more thing, this is a web design oriented website and the ads offer free design websites… ¿WTF?

    • 409

      Giorgo Paizanis

      June 16, 2010 10:36 am

      I do agree with you on this though. They should be more selective with the ads. I don’t mind seeing an ad for some plugin I might use, but not for something that ultimately puts web designers (the main audience here) out of business by automating what really should be done by a trained professional.

  166. 410

    I am guessing the title was intended to create some buzz, but maybe it would better read Why using ad blockers my hurt the blogging community…

    This is not so much about the web designer but the business model.
    If my client wants to to create ad space great ill do it, if they want me to build a membership site with paid content, well i’m a hired gun.

    so kind of a weird call to arms, seem there is a lot of harness here (me included i am guessing) but it would be good to conversation about, to see what the new world of only profit looks like and who web designers can stay live in it. — anyway hot topic

  167. 411

    Love how Smashing Magazine has an article to not do something they are doing themselves :D

  168. 412

    There is a reason why AdBlocker is one of the most popular browser plugins for Firefox and Chrome.

  169. 413

    Simply put: it’s not the trail pulling the airplane but the other way around.

  170. 414


    June 15, 2010 8:56 pm

    Kudos for a hot debate topic! Nice article. I find myself agreeing and disagreeing. Yes to advertising. No to aggressive begging.

    Negative reinforcement advertising – having to enter your email address to subscribe to the newsletter before viewing the content, animated slide-ins, even huge blocks of color that take up a third of the page and slow loading time – all “tricks” to “lead the eye” and force attention – this is actually a kind of bait-and-switch for someone who was drawn by your content. Guess what? If it’s on the page, some of us might scan it for that reason alone. Personally I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring any and all animations – but if it’s an auto-play video, they get the axe.

    It’s not enough that you got another unique visitor? Just by clicking on your link the reader has provided you value. Be happy with that.

    Content first, ads second, my opinion. On sites where the ads are first, I for one close the tab and look on one of google’s other million pages on the topic. If I want their newsletter I’ll *look* for the button (and I should find it). Chances are? I DON”T WANT THEIR DAILY SPAM. As analytics gets more recognized mainstream people will realize that numbers lie, and membership mortality is pretty rampant. You want engaged customers, not annoyed passersby.

    I think this not so much threatens the development community as it does forces the marketing community to recognize that (some) people are not Pavlovian sheep. Step up your own game.

    Why are the superbowl ads so successful? It’s not the captive audience. It’s the genuine connection and engagement, in this case, via high-production value storytelling. Ask not what the customers can do for your ad, ask what your ad can do for your customers.

  171. 415

    LOL.. nice try.. But no, I won’t throw away my beloved AdBlocker. I want my internet to be ad-free.. Advertising is evil..

  172. 416

    Lets face it – there’s FAR too much junk on the internet as it is – probably 80-90% of it is copied or is just plain useless.

    So if by using an Adblocker it leads to the demise of most of this junk because they can’t afford to pay for their blogs/websites/junk then so be it…

    Oh and the sort of people who would install an Adblocker would most likely never click on an ad in the first place!

  173. 417

    Nothing is free? What about open source software that you can modify and use at will? How about free and open technology in the web and outside it? What about my Firefox which I can use and modify and redistribute as I WANT, and if I want (and I’m legally entitled to) Mozilla will never see a penny from their advertising connections? This is just an example.

    Web advertising is a good idea. It’s a fundamentally good idea that is now, as of today, rotten to hell and back. Web adverts are not only a source of viruses and spyware, but they are also an annoyance because they blink and they make sounds and they steal your focus and they steal your clicks and they are bad. That’s it. I block my ads because they’re all annoying and I don’t care about them in the slightest. If you want me to buy your sh!t, pay for something I like. Like Red Bull and their F1 team and Rally team and Planes and whatnot. Like some console who has games that I like (there’s none, but never mind). Like Puma who sponsors teams I like and I buy their products. Like Lancia who had awesome Rally cars and I just boght a fantastic Lancia Delta HF last month!!!

    Web advertising is just an annoying. And look! Wikipedia doesn’t have ads! Many heavily used websites don’t have ads. They’re far from the majority, but they’re about 5% to 10% of the most used sites in the web.

    Tell me again how nothing is free? I think that’s just your usual bull**** from capitalist americans that can’t understand how the world is supposed to work without direct money transactions between costumer and supplier.

    • 418

      Giorgo Paizanis

      June 16, 2010 10:43 am

      Wikipedia had to take donations becaus their content was being supplied by biased sources and they needed to regulate. With no money involved you get poor quality.

    • 419

      “nothing is free” is true, even for open source its free to you, but its cost others lots of time, and effort.

      Open source is free to the end users but cost lots of creative and development time. So its not “free” to just you don’t have to pay the cost.

      Also firefox gets money google for having them set as the default landing page, which is great because its helps fund an open source project, but some one is paying, time, money, and effort.

  174. 420

    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 be over aggressive serving ads while hosting content, you’re basically saying “I only care about my own profit, and I don’t want anyone to benefit from my web site without paying.” It’s a shame that any web designer would have that attitude.

  175. 422

    If a site can’t live without ads… don’t ask me to save it!

    I agree with people saying a lot junk/spam/scam/mirrors live on ads. I am always amazed to see how much content (texts, images, videos) is created only to “trick” google, to raise there traffic to sell more ads. To me, it’s pollution and I do all I can to fight it. I preach adBlockers usage… and you’re asking me to stop using it?

    I learned web design in the late 90’s, when “internet community” didn’t mean “social media” thought tutorial’s and new groups made by other users. No add, and it didn’t die… it was born add free. Then company tried to apply the same “TV/paper way of doing things” on web… a lot of them laid off writers and blame it, as Louis Lazaris is doing, on the ads not being suitable on the web. It’s a free world… let it be… but let me also laugh when I read people complaining it’s not working. It can die… my travel blogs will always be there and adFree… I will answer to questions in formus etc… Companies will still have plenty profit opportunity on the web.

    I am willing to pay more ( I already paid 40$ a month to my ISP ) … don’t get me wrong. But I believe in “micro-payment”. I spend more money on “music” since I can get it right now, cheap and knowing (well…thinking… I could be wrong) that artists are getting more from an album sold on iTune than from a store. They did not fight torrent sites, they made it easier, faster… Don’t block adBlokers, create content and context I’ll be willing to (micro) pay for.

    How much extra money would Smashing be doing with me if I was not using an ads blocker?… Well close to nothing I guess and I would be more than happy to pay twice that nothing to have an ad free site. I understand the tools to “micro-pay”( e.g. 0,01$ an article…. 3$ a year) do not exists yet and iTune is in some way a monster, but I believe it’s coming. AdBlockers is only speeding things up.

  176. 423

    This is by far, without comparison, the funniest op-ed I’ve read in the recent years. Thank you for the laugh.

  177. 424

    I’ll start this article with a painful but true statement: If you’re reading this paragraph and haven’t yet purchased something from one of the wonderful, creative advertisements found anywhere on this site, you are STEALING time, money, and creativity from me, this site and its beloved advertisers. The success of our advertisers is directly responsible for the content you’re viewing today!

    Why Web Designers Should Buy From Advertisers (Opinion Column)

    Unfortunately, some of you selfish individuals seem to have forgotten that it’s money that makes the world go ’round. While you’ve been living the high life, saving your money for things you deem more worthwhile, you’re robbing advertisers everywhere of earnings — earnings that could be used to support sites like this one for advertising spots. We as a community are solely responsible for keeping businesses who pay for advertising on design blogs afloat, because they are the ones who keep our favorite sites online, our bloggers blogging, and our sites full of beautiful, eye catching, trend setting advertisements.

    The Selfish Clicker: Stealing Today, Paying Tomorrow

    You might be thinking to yourself, “But I click every advertisement I see to support design blogs!” You might even think you deserve a medal for your valiant efforts. What you don’t seem to understand, possibly because you possess what the modern science of phrenology refers to as “the criminal brain,” is that your empty clicks are costing advertisers money in the long run. They took the time to create some of the most awe-inspiring advertisements ever seen, and out of the goodness of their hearts, spent their own hard earned money for advertising space on sites like this knowing that they had made a sound business decision. Users like you come in, see these advertisements and, after a few minutes to regain consciousness from witnessing something that you were certain was forged by the hands of Goddess herself, manage to steal money straight from the wallets of advertisers with a single left click.

    If the advertisers spend all their money advertising but don’t make any back through purchases, they’ll wither and die, creating a domino effect of failing business models, famine and plague that will inevitably destroy the internet as we know it. All because of your disgusting selfishness.

    Why “Your” Money Isn’t Really Yours

    You might be wondering at this point why an advertising company might be entitled to “your” money. Well I’ll tell you why, wisenheimer. When you grow up some day and run a business like us grown-ups, you’ll realize that you’ll have to invest some of your own time and money. Investing is really like building a magical time capsule (patent pending) that duplicates whatever you put into it several times over. Put a dollar into your magical investment time console, dig it up in 3 months, and you’ve just entitled yourself to several dollars and possibly even some change. The neat thing about investing, however, is that when you put time into your hypothetical time capsule, it’s magically converted into money as well!

    Unfortunately, there’s only one thing that can prevent you from digging up your future money: Time Thieves. When you choose to browse the internet and don’t purchase products from advertisements on the sites you browse, you might as well just travel back in time and steal money from everyone else’s magic investment capsules. So you see, you’ve intercepted advertisers’ future money and have willfully chosen to steal it, keeping it selfishly for yourself, dooming the entire internet and possibly all of civilization as we know it.

    The Consequences of a Me-First Attitude

    I’m in no position to intelligently analyze the potential consequences of what could happen if time thieves steal from advertising companies, but here goes anyway! In the future, all the advertising companies are dead. When advertising companies die, capitalism dies. When capitalism dies, so does modern civilization. When you’re cold and starving, pushing a shopping cart full of your belongings and fighting off cannibals, you’ll have no one left to blame but yourself.

    Using Your Time Travelling Powers For Good Rather Than Evil

    There is hope, however. We’re not in the future yet, so there’s still slim chance, if everyone manages to throw enough stolen future money at advertisers, that we could potentially restore capitalism, democracy and order. I think you owe it to your future children, their future children, and their future children’s children to at least try. You don’t hate children, do you?

    • 425

      Awesome! :D

    • 426

      Now I know I’m famous — because I’ve been parodied. :–)

    • 428

      Thanks for this Paul you put some work into it, I agree the title was very demanding and maybe would have been better to say something like “Why ad blockers could hurt blogers” but then you would not have made this great remake you wrote.

      In addition my point is this, if blogs have to make money to survive (like any business) if ads keep more blogs alive I would rather advertisers pay for the content with money and ill pay with my eyes, but that’s my choice and others may choice differently.

      (plus if i was on a PC I would block more ads because of viruse fears, I installed an ad blocker on my girlfriends computer because of viruses, but on a mac it’s not as big of a deal.)

      we can not tell people what to do (tho i’m doing it now, oh philosophy)but we can point out the pros and cons of both for users and blogs.

      so we should talk about the pros and cons of both, the title of this article is kind of inflammatory tho… but eh also creates interest

  178. 429

    Everyone should read this comment by Thomas, which explains exactly why the disabling of ads could have negative longterm consequences on internet content.

    • 430

      “For you, the visitor, that’s *bad*. It means advertisers spend money on feeding you biased information instead of on hoping to catch your attention.”

      The problem with this line of reasoning is that it assumes that internet users will continue to visit these sites, generating revenue for the now “bad” websites. If you can pull this off, obviously your users find your new advertorial method acceptable. If it is truly bad for us users, we’ll realize it and stop visiting the sites that do this (it’s actually quite easy to spot a site like that vs. a legitimate review site if you’re not totally disconnected with reality). This isn’t *bad* for us, it’s *bad* for the bloggers who don’t want to do this and just want to maintain a potentially failing business model, producing content users might not find valuable enough to view as anything other than completely free. You can’t say that it’s going to ruin the internet for users, because anyone attempting to run a successful internet business will always build it to work with what users want.

      Again, for probably the seventh or eighth time I’ve responded to this damned article, it’s not the user’s responsibility, and it isn’t the user’s concern as to whether or not a business fails. If a business attempts to make money in a deceptive or annoying way, users tend to avoid that, whether that be obnoxious advertisements or obviously deceptive and “*bad*” advertorials. If you produce something worthwhile (not just to you, but to your users) and are able to provide it in a way where you can make money, great! If you can’t, don’t complain or try to blame anyone but yourself. Just because your fantasy business model might now be failing doesn’t mean it’s going to be the end of the world for people using the internet, it just means you need to stop clinging to your fantasy of how things should work and adapt. Businesses adapting won’t make things *bad* for us. If they do, those business haven’t actually adapted and they’ll fail.

      • 431

        Paul, users do continue visiting these sites, and usually without realizing that they’re being misled. Just read the example below.

        One of the largest providers of online medical information is WebMD, which not only runs the main WebMD site but also eMedicine, Medscape and a bunch of other sites, getting many millions of visitors per month.

        WebMD has “sponsored” tests and articles. One of the sponsors of those tests and articles is pharmaceutical corp Eli Lilly, which manufactures Cymbalta, an SNRI which is marketed for treatment of depression in combination with pain symptoms.

        So, WebMD has a “depression screening test”, sponsored by Eli Lilly. It tests for the nine diagnostic criteria from DSM IV for depression, and adds a tenth: pain symptoms. There are many more possible symptoms, but out of all the ones not listed in DSM IV, WebMD chose this one.

        Why? Well, to those making the test, it associates any possible pain they may have had with the other symptoms, so when they go to the doctor, they’ll be sure to explicitly mention it.

        The test actually isn’t a depression screening test at all, it’s a Cymbalta-requester grooming test. Just by doing the test a patient becomes far more likely to say the right things to his doctor to get a Cymbalta prescription.

        Now, you could say that people should just be aware of this. But the problem is that if you haven’t studied medicine, you just won’t be able to spot the bias.

        In the tech industry, it’s the same. Most designers and site owners lack the technical knowledge necessary to critically evaluate, say, a detailed hosting service review or guide.

        Moreover, what they recommend to their clients (who usually know even less) is based on what they know, and what they know is largely determined by what they read. If what they read is subtly influenced by financial interests, it creates a corrupt playing field.

        And yes, you are responsible. You are (or should be) aware that there are only a limited number of business models, and that explicitly taking action against one of them will have the direct effect of promoting other ones. So you know exactly what the long-term consequences of what you’re doing are.

        Your decision to use ad blockers is a vote against the ad-based business model, and therefore a vote in favor of other business models. And you, just like everyone else, carry responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

        Honestly, though, I’m getting sick and tired of the “it’s not the consumer’s responsibility” argument. I am not aware of any laws against using your brain every once in a while, so expecting you to think about the long-term effects of the things you do really isn’t that much to ask.

        • 432

          So would you argue that a vote against javascript is a vote for deceptive marketing and biases? What about someone using a browser that doesn’t support images, only plain text? Or plain text readers? Because the results are often the same, as nearly every advertisement uses some form of images or javascript in order to not only display advertisements, but also track them ensuring that the content providers receive credit for it.

          Your logic is incorrect as you’re making the assumption that every user who currently uses adblock would then SUPPORT a business model like the one you’ve described rather than simply abstaining from even visiting a site that employed said tactics. A refusal to participate in targeted advertisements is not equivalent to a pledge to support a site that employs alternate tactics for making money (such as biased content).

          I’ve also discussed the ramifications of not purchasing from advertising companies who have paid for advertising spots, as the failure of said advertising companies would ultimately lead to a failure in the very same business model many people feel NEEDS to survive in order for critical information like “10 reasons why jQuery is neat.” No one seems interested in that, though.

          • 433

            Blocking javascript is a vote against javascript. If many people start blocking it, site owners can display both ads and content without using it.

            Blocking images is a vote against images. If many people start blocking them, site owners can display both (text) content and (text) ads without using them.

            Blocking ads, however, is a vote against the ad-based revenue model, since one cannot serve ads without serving ads.

            If you decrease the profitability of the ad-based revenue model relative to that of other revenue models, you increase the profitability of other revenue models relative to the ad-based revenue model.

            So, in fact, a refusal to participate in targeted advertisements has exactly the same effect as a pledge to support a site that employs alternate tactics for making money.

            Compare it to a seesaw. In terms of balance, lowering the weight on one side has the same effect as increasing the weight on the other side. Likewise, lowering the profitability of one revenue model causes an immediate increase in the relative profitability of other business models.

            As for not purchasing from the companies that buy ads, well yes, it would have the same effect if people stuck by it religiously.

            In reality, however, if people don’t block ads chances are that they’ll one day stumble across one with something that appeals to them and make a purchase. Plus, even if that doesn’t happen, ads still help the advertisers in branding their products.

            If you’ve seen a company advertise for years on sites you regularly visit, chances are you’ll remember that company when you eventually need to buy a product they happen to sell.

          • 434

            Your assessment of “relative” success is correct, but your seesaw analogy only works if it happens to snap in half, causing the advertising kid to fall on his ass while the other one is still standing in the exact same position as they were before it broke. A company losing money using an advertising model doesn’t magically make money with another business model unless users use and support the new model.
            X = 1
            Y = 1
            Y – 1 = 0
            Does X = 2 now magically?

            There’s no guarantee that people using advertisement blocking software will support an alternative *bad* business model like you’ve described, they simply choose not to support the current model. Sure some might, but as an individual who uses ad blocking software I can assure you I have no interest in supporting or visiting an advertorial article or website. People who block ads and people who avoid biased websites are not mutually exclusive groups.

          • 435

            Thomas, you should have written this article. You know exactly what you’re talking about, and I applaud your boldness in the face of all of this opposition.

            True, I was somewhat harsh in some of my original words. But I’m often too honest, and that is one of my downfalls.

            Great job in expanding on this. I think you’ve helped out quite well, especially with the example from medical websites. Thanks.

  179. 436

    What a load of crap. Can’t believe this is on SM.

  180. 437

    Good reminder to install an adblocker.

  181. 438

    I actually “kind of” agree with this article that because I don’t go out my way to find the most awesome-est ad-blocker on the internet and I don’t get bothered by TV commercials. Like someone on here said, ads are necessary, not only because the community needs to support themselves; also the economy. No one buys stuff, money won’t get spread around. Simple as that. Nothing is free, and I believe in ad supported or premium service because of this one simple reason.

    But I wouldn’t go my way out to state ALL USERS SHOULD STOP USING AD-BLOCKERS! Same reason there’s Tivo (which I don’t own one and probably misspelled), and same reason for premium services. The end-users get to choose what they want to do. But for complete free loaders… think about the consequence like the above user stating about biased info being pushed in your face.

    Thanks Louis for another enticing article.

  182. 439

    How many people here are shouting proudly about using AdBlockers, yet are running Ads on sites they own?!?

  183. 440

    Louis –

    If the ad section on your own site were more attractively designed (and not 40% of the page width), you wouldn’t feel compelled to guilt trip the entire community into not blocking it.

    • 441

      And your intention with this comment is to make website content owners feel guilty about making money for countless hours of work.

      The sidebar on my website has more than just ads (I really don’t know if you’re talking about Smashing Magazine or my own site, but it’s about the same, size-wise). And, all my most recent articles include a smaller sidebar that’s only about 150px wide.

      I think this article really hit a nerve with a lot of people that have very little intention of giving, and only intend on taking. Sorry, but I can’t agree with that attitude.

      • 442

        YOU created content intended to be distributed. YOU setup a website to distribute said content. YOU allowed the website to run on a server where ANY user on the internet could access it using any number of ways of accessing the text (readers, rss feeds, image/css/js blocking/limited browsers, etc.). YOU have done so on your own accord, with no agreement with ANYONE that you would be owed or given anything back. YOU have made an investment that YOU are responsible for. If I go to your site and don’t look at your advertisements you’ve strewn about I’M taking? Your information is available on the internet through a variety of means from your web server, and you’ve willfully made it so, yet you feel that you’re entitled to something back? You’ve gone out of your way to setup a domain to PUT YOUR “INFORMATION” out there (I use the term information loosely when it comes to content design blogs generate). You are pushing this information into the internet and claim that it’s free, yet you argue that people are taking from you? I didn’t log onto your computer and start looking at private documents without giving anything back to you.

        If you were handing out food, and you tried to hand out advertising fliers along with it each time, BUT STILL GAVE THEM THE FOOD if they didn’t want the advertising flier, would you then say these people are putting you out of business?! That’s what you’re doing, only you’re not even handing out something tangible, it’s just copying data over an infrastructure you’ve willfully set your website up on to pass data to any client that requests it. Think we’re TAKING your precious information? Then be selective with who you push it on and stop crying about your finances when you’ve wasted money on an investment that isn’t paying off, or start selling your product if it’s really worth what you think it is. If you can’t understand that then you’re clearly so blinded by your self-righteous and self-entitled attitude that I can’t think of any other way to express the failure in your logic.

        By the way I’ve just freely posted this comment BUT IF YOU DON’T CLICK ON THIS WEB ADDRESS YOU’VE JUST TAKEN FROM ME WITHOUT GIVING.

        • 443

          Hey Paul maybe taking the meditor a little father but, ad blockers are kind of a weird world.

          It’s like each person can make a law that you are not allowed to hand out fliers with free food, but in order for the free food to keep coming some people need to get the fliers and interested people can then acted on the information if interest, but if everyone makes there own law of disallowing the handing out of fliers with food then there is no more food.

          however in our real world I personally believe there will always be advertising and there will always be ways to block it, the more someone is hurt by ads they more they block, the more people find good solid relative helps ads they more they will open up….
          or not

          anyways you have a lot of passion, nice link

          • 444

            As ridiculous as it seems to continue with the food metaphor, why not just stop handing it out to people who aren’t interested in your fliers and stop calling it free? If you have expectations then, sorry to say, you’re only providing something for *Free.

          • 445

            I like the food thing, to answer to your questions

            — “Why not just stop handing it (food) out to people who arn’t interested in your fliers and stop calling it free”

            I guess that is what restaurant are for and it’s a different business model.

            and I would like to have my free food cause I can’t to eat at all the nice restaurant and I just hope there are other homeless people like me with not much money for paid food who will take the flyer so we can keep getting food.

            so there will always be restaurants and there will always be food banks.

            **If the food bank poisons the food, don’t go there, if your on a PC and your scared to hell that every food bank is poisoned, get virus protection and block some ads, (maybe take fliers from the non-posionous food banks once your sure)

            again we have to choice and we should look at the Cons and the pros of food bank fliers.

        • 446


          I never insinuated that not looking at ads was stealing, nor did I say that you owed anyone anything.

          This is not about what we have a right to do. This is about ethics and morals within the design blogging industry. Yes, you’re absolutely right — everyone has the right to ignore ads and even block them if they wish. I never said that was not their right. My point is: Don’t take it to the extreme. If you have a problem with ads, fine, just try to ignore them. But understand that if you choose to remove them completely, then you’re doing damage to the community, because those ads are very valuable to the publishers and advertisers.

          If you want to live in an industry full of people only interested in what they can get for themselves, that’s fine. I have no problem with you feeling that way. But I don’t want to be part of an industry that encourages that kind of behavior. I don’t believe good communities are built on such principles. Those types of communities will ultimately fail.

          • 447

            Louis sounds nice,

            tho i agree with some of what you are saying it all sounds kind of idialistic, maybe a good direction to move,

            but ill just kindly point out that the most industry’s in the world today seem to be more selfish then giving, thats kind of the idea of most of the world, maybe thats why their are so many poor and hungry people because “industry” and “people like us” are always looking for the cheapest stuff only caring about our selfs and its hard to give when we are losing something and its not just out what the extra we have…. oh wait i am proving your point….

          • 448

            Lol.. you’re right. :)

            But seriously, I understand what you’re saying. It’s hard for everyone to say “Yeah, I’ll do this, because it helps the industry”, but then everyone just assumes the worst, because they assume *nobody* will respond that way. So they say “why should I do that, if no one else is going to?”

            Anyways, thanks for your thoughts.

          • 449

            “This is about ethics and morals within the design blogging industry.”

            Don’t push your morals on me!! LOL! You jumped the shark with this one, love.

          • 450

            But you’ve missed the point — YOU’RE PUSHING YOUR CONTENT OUT ONTO THE INTERNET FOR FREE. When someone performs a google search, you’ve pushed your content out ahead of someone else’s. You WANT people to view it on any number of potential browsers/viewers that are highly likely to prevent/block/disable advertisements! We’re just using the internet in a way anyone should, by protecting ourselves from any potentially malicious, annoying or obnoxious content. Yet you feel we’re just getting whatever we can, when you’re trying to tie us into your entitlement to revenue?

            How about you stop trying to get whatever you can and realize that you’ve made the unilateral decision to put in work with no guarantee, offer or agreement regarding any income within an infrastructure that supports the use of any number of browsers/readers that would disable/prevent/ignore advertisements, and take that self-entitled attitude into the business world. How about you stop living in a fantasy world where you feel you’re entitled to income while you work from home, rather than finding a full-time job with a corporation who has real job duties and expectations for you instead of complaining about how unethical it is for someone to access your freely available content with something that doesn’t fit your concept of an ideal, “moral” user. Morality is relative, and you’re trying to push your moral view on everyone else in your favor even though you were the one to initiate and push your own content, in advance, out into the world onto everyone else with a clear (but obviously obscured through soft language) expectation of revenue for doing so.

            You even said yourself, “And your intention with this comment is to make website content owners feel guilty about making money for countless hours of work.

            The sidebar on my website has more than just ads (I really don’t know if you’re talking about Smashing Magazine or my own site, but it’s about the same, size-wise). And, all my most recent articles include a smaller sidebar that’s only about 150px wide.

            I think this article really hit a nerve with a lot of people that have very little intention of giving, and only intend on taking. Sorry, but I can’t agree with that attitude.” Countless hours of work? I’m sorry, but which client did you happen to have sign off on these countless hours of work? Oh wait, you chose to do so in your own free time, without anyone’s prior expressed interest or an agreement regarding how much you’d be paid. If that isn’t a sense of entitlement I don’t know what is. Your article hasn’t hurt a nerve with people who have no interest in giving. In fact, I have no problem donating money to companies who actually who are actually genuinely interested in providing FREE valuable content like Mozilla in order to make the internet a better place. No, this reality is your article strikes a nerve with people who are able to logically differentiate between a business agreement coupled with a valid sense of entitlement versus a business investment with a warped, selfish sense of entitlement for content that truly isn’t worth its weight in flashing advertisements (of which I spotted two on your site just last night when I viewed it for approximately 10 seconds).

            Let me ask this: How is it wrong or unethical for users to access your freely available content without viewing advertisements even when it provides the very same benefits many have argued for advertisers who might not actually be making direct revenue from purchases after paying for ad spots on sites like this (exposure, brand recognition, etc.)? If you’re against ad blocking for users viewing your site, your logically can be directly used to make an argument against users who don’t purchase products from advertisers. Any defense for the latter can directly translate to a defense for the former. Try re-reading my lengthy post above (the one that make you “LOL Famous!” even though you seemed to completely ignore the content of, instead choosing to make a cutesy “Hey thanks guyz!” post for).

          • 451

            BTW I hate spotting errors in something I’ve written several minutes later. I type too quickly and from muscle memory too often it would seem:

            “Your article hasn’t hurt a nerve” = “Your article hasn’t hit a nerve”

            “your logically can be directly used” = “your logic can be directly used”

  184. 452

    Tom Something

    June 17, 2010 1:34 pm

    Some sites have terribly annoying ads that are extremely disruptive to the user experience. When I see this, I don’t just want to reduce their ad impressions; I want to reduce their visitor count.

    I don’t use ad blockers because I want to know which websites to stop visiting.

    • 453

      David Eldridge

      June 18, 2010 9:09 am

      Interesting. I never thought of it in that light. That is a good argument for ‘running blind’.

  185. 454

    You have got to be kidding me. Designers are here to be designers, not drooling capitalist flunkies.

    “If you want to live in an industry full of people only interested in what they can get for themselves, that’s fine.”

    How utterly ironic you would say this: that’s essentially the marketing and advertising industry in a nutshell.The whole PURPOSE of advertising is to foster more and more consumption ad infinitum (yes, I am aware of exceptions like PETA, and exceptions don’t make the rule). Which is not something I feel like supporting blindly. Our daily life is bombarded with ads 24/7 and I use an adblocker for the same reason I don’t listen to the radio much. Honestly? They are really the equivalent of this (got your speakers on?): Annoying isn’t it?

    If you read a little media theory, or just pick up an Adbusters, you might find it enlightening.

    Adblockers don’t make the web less real. On the contrary: they make it a whole lot MORE real.

  186. 459

    I think many peole (like me) use adblockers not because we hate advertising, but hate to wait 20+ secs to donwload a news/blog/forum page.

    It is funny that I write about 20 seconds waiting time. Twenty years ago I had to walk 10 minutes to a phone booth to call somebody. It was fine to handwrite a letter 2 nights long to somebody I loved. I travelled the city on public transport, now even my Fireblade is too slow sometimes.

    Internet has changed everything, erased patience.

  187. 460

    holly sh*t!!

    I just turned adblock off and hit a few sites that I’ve never viewed w/o it (this one included), and I’m seriously never going to go w/o it again. The ads are very annoying and overwhelm the content. Not to mention how irrelevant they typically are. This site itself has at least 3 CSS to XHTML blocks; I’m sure most of it’s readers typically DO know how to do this themselves!!!!

    ‘clicks adblock back ON’

  188. 461

    Going to install adblocker now. Thanks for convincing me.

  189. 462

    I think the only logical solution is to detect ad blockers, and offer the “no ads for me” crowd the option to subscribe (pay to view the content), with no ads presented.

    Those who think the internet should be advertising free can stay on their moral high horse and pony up.

    • 463

      [Comment removed due to abuse]

    • 464

      [Comment removed due to abuse]

    • 465

      David Eldridge

      June 30, 2010 7:05 am

      @Lemur I don’t know if that comment was direct at my comment about smut, but I am not insisting that the web be free of advertising. I would just like for it to be free of advertising that uses sex and sensuality to make the appeal. But I am not opposed to subscription-based services. There are many models for making money on the web: time-trial, subscription, freemium, ad-supported and more. I don’t think we are locked in to a pricing (or rather support/monetization) model. The site I run is free out right, but if I ever need money to cover the day-to-day, I plan to move to a donation model, whose failure might push me to subscription/freemium.

  190. 466

    Chris Thompson

    June 18, 2010 3:21 pm

    I know this opinion has been voiced elsewhere, but ad blockers are a direct result of how online ads currently work: they are incredibly easy to detect and remove. No amount of engineering in the current model is going to change that. The fact that they come from an ad server, aren’t integrated into the site, and are un-valuable means that they will always be detectable.

    Plenty of projects and sites have done well by going the route of getting sponsors, being an affiliate, and integrating revenue generation. When you don’t treat ad revenue as a kind of “add-on” that you blindly hope will pay for your site, then it starts being less crappy for your users. Once you’ve put thought into the kinds of things your users might actually care about, it stops being ads and starts being monetized *content*.

    Then you’re issue with ad blockers will be resolved, and everyone can be happier for it. It’s a mirror image of all the hubbub that sprung up around the Safari Reader feature (and similar tech).

  191. 467

    I should have linked to this article in the original content, but here is a good quote from Chris Coyier of CSS Tricks:

    There is nothing “evil” about advertising. Creating content takes blood, sweat and tears. Creating products takes blood, sweat, and tears. Both deserve to be paid for that. Advertising makes sure they do.

    And keep in mind that in no way am I saying that Chris Coyier endorses my view here, only that he understands the importance of revenue for content producers.

  192. 468

    Branden Silva

    June 19, 2010 7:06 am

    I agree with most of your points Louis. I do actually use an ad blocker but disable it for most design blogs I frequent because I like to support the community. However as advertising has become more obtrusive (which I would claim is selfish in itself) then I feel it becomes an inherent right for me to filter myself from the noise. The amount of advertisement exposure the average person is exposed to is ridiculous. And although I agree that businesses like yours, for example, need advertising to survive — you still need to consider the ramifications it has on your visitors. Obviously you tend to show things that relate to your visitors (web designing, etc) and that works out, but not every industry is like that and tend to harass and annoy users with annoying ads that aren’t relevant.

    So your title “Ad Blockers Promote a Me-First Attitude” to me indicates that you don’t realize that the entire economy is based on a self-interest attitude as that was how it was designed (not ideally how I’d like to see things go, but this is the world we live in).

    You don’t provide free content completely, you provide content that pays you through advertising. Yes the free content would not exist without you getting paid but equally your advertisers wouldn’t exist without your visitors. Its a mutual relationship so you obviously have to take care of your users and advertisers equally to get paid (double whammy!). Writing is definitely hard work and you guys do an excellent job but I would be careful in throwing around what is considered appropriate self-interest to the user as they can equally dish it back at you.

    With that said I do think its important users know that blogs live off of advertising and they are reminded of the importance of this, so I congratulate you in writing up this article because its easy for people to disconnect themselves from the reality of how important this is to keep content free for the average user.

    Keep up the great work guys.

  193. 469

    Seems like the same whining as the movie and music industry… if ads do not work for you try to find alternative ways to have an income…

  194. 470

    Unfortunately, this ill-informed screed reflects poorly on SM… one less RSS feed to follow.

  195. 471

    Again, I see some misguided individual who thinks Ad Blockers deprive site owners of income.

    I know, that no matter what the advert, I’m not going to be interested in it, or click on it. I already know what’s out there in the world, and don’t need flashy distracting things reminding me. If anything’s truly worthy of my attention it’ll get to me naturally, not via a rubbish banner advert.

    Thus, my impressions would lower the CTR, and reduce the income to the site owner. Thus, by blocking them, I’m doing the site owner a favour; not reducing his CTR.

  196. 472

    Louis, one question.
    why don’t SM gives credit back to WordPress. you do not have a Powered By WordPress text. (I see you have meta-generator=wordpress, but how does that benefits to WP). I think people would be interested to know your contribution back to WP. Doesn’t WP deserve what SM is expecting from this blog-post?

    • 473


      Louis’s argument is so full of holes it’s best to simply ignore them. This whole article is a joke and I need to stop giving this site traffic. When I go home I have a few beers and play WoW and forget you worthless “designers” even existed.

      Stop reading design blogs. They’re bad for your brain.

  197. 474

    GUS the gamer

    June 20, 2010 9:59 pm

    Flash ads are Annoying and hog CPU time, I block the critters!!

    why cant we leave our site’s name here? this defies the purpose of a blog community, dont get me started on the design community

  198. 475

    I use Ad Muncher, which works for every single program on my system.

    It’s an important too for keeping my system safe.

  199. 476

    I use a scriptblocker (noscript) which is like an uber-adblocker.

    I don’t mind looking at ads on a site like Smashing Magazine, but the scriptblocker is just so good at filtering out nonsense that I leave it on. Although I had to let this page through to do your poll!

    I always incorporate my advertising into my sites properly so the ads can’t be blocked, and I can vet everything. This means my users are interested in the advertising, and there are no rubbish companies on there.

  200. 477

    Using AdBlock in full-time work with computer is necessity if I want to stay mentally OK. There are also some other benefits: lets CPU usage, less bandwidth, page takes less space. (And of course I use whitelist when it comes to my favourite servers, saying nothing about usability of this ads which is nearly zero for me).

    However most of user do not use it and never will, some people like ads and wants to know them (in fact, I even think they want to be manipulated by them). If this group of users starts to use adblockers then something is wrong with the ad and the responsible is person who chooses ads not wisely.

  201. 478

    As a Designer you should always be aware of the Way a Webpage can render different in a different environment, making sure your Page works with ad blocks and without is the same as making sure if degrades well in IE. For the Matter If you should use an ad blocker from a moral point, well, the fact is people use it because some adds make a page unusable (layers, fly ins, pop ups), so there can’t be any blame.

  202. 479

    Flash advertisements are super-annoying, because they always distract from content, no matter how it designed (and most are designed poor).

    Even non-animated ads are unsuitable for site design, with rare exceptions.

    And I never clicked banners (only by accicent), so they would benefit nothing whether I have adblock enabled or disabled.

  203. 480

    Protip: get a REAL job, blogging is a hobby

    • 481

      Freak Bucket

      June 5, 2012 5:42 pm

      Tell that so bloggers making thousands a month (well used to). Often more than they made at their “real jobs” (whatever that means).

  204. 482

    Is there any sort of QA for the articles @ SM anymore? If I read this on a personal blog, I would not even give it a second thought but, on SM it just looks like another ‘Send Us Money’ article.

    I personally, do not use an ad-blocker. That being said, I also never click on any of the ads.

    “If you can’t afford to read “free” blogs, then you shouldn’t read them.”

    Really?? How about the alternate? If you can’t afford to run free blogs, charge for access.

  205. 483

    As a web developer, I thought this is an article about how using the ad blocker while working on a site with advertising can actually influence the result of your coding. But it turned out to be a variant of “don’t switch the channel when you watch TV and advertising is on. ” Jeeez :)

  206. 484

    What about spam filters, should we disable them, so poor spammers can make money?

    I never blocked ads. even annoying ones. even with a very loud shocker ad I just complained to the site authors. But few years ago some ad was so CPU hugry I actually had to kill the browser’s process and that was too much. I started using Adblock.

  207. 485

    Once I thought about blocking people who use adblockers from my website .. but I am too lazy to look in to it, don;t even know if it is possible. Anyways, I think I should have the right to show my site only to people who see the banners. or not? don’t know, but to use adblockers looks a bit like stealing.

  208. 486

    I just want to further ad, you can host the ads on the website and the ads wouldn’t get blocked. Another deterrent and reason I prefer to use a noscript plugin, is because I don’t trust external scripts, if the ads ran within the smashing magazine’s scope I’d be more trusting than some external 3rd party script gathering information from me.

  209. 487

    This thread is quite intense at points, and I think most people have lost the point of the article. I realise that by blocking this type of content it’s not going to do any good for the people producing it. I happen to be in the industry, so being on a salary does help… but income was part of the reason I decided to pull a lot of stuff I was producing and maintaining on the web. That said, I still use blocking software on about half the software I’m using.

    Keep up the good content, and I hope this section of the site stays afloat.

  210. 488

    You ask web designers to drop Ad blocking so you/we/all can get advertising cash but… have you read the text below “Leave a Comment”?

    “… and do not advertise!”

    Oh the irony!, I’ll remove AdBlock when any website I visit follows that request, see:

    I wouldn’t mind a professional and unbiased article about some product or service, like “Company blabla just launched blabla, we like blabla, we don’t like blaba, they could improve blabla” while browsing a website I choose to. Somebody actually taking the time to talk about a product or service they are advertising kind of gives more confidence.

    In fact I have made some purchase decisions based on articles like that, but never, never based on a random and unrelated banner found in whatever website I visit, how many computers/loans/magazine subscriptions/etc. do you think we all need to buy/get daily?

    And yes, I do advertising work on my day job adapting and generating web content for a big company.

  211. 489

    Never gonna happen! What should happen is that bloggers should have more inventive ways to advertise that cannot be blocked. Such as product placement. In-content links, etc… Ads are intrusive and annoying. If I wouldn’t block them, I wouldn’t click them anyways. 99% of ads are for garbage products anyways.

  212. 490

    Over the last 3 years adblock became a must-have add-on for me! When I use a browser without it I get crazy of all the ads in an instant. Also I never would and never did actually click on an ad (okay, the site owner might get a cashback even for just displaying the ad…)

    Of course you are right, this is very selfish of me. But as a user of the interwebs I just became so used to getting software, movies, music, news, and and and absolutely for free… I guess this just the way of the world, a reality bloggers (and btw musicians, filmmakers, software-developers, writers and many others) have to accept.

    Also there are many sites that make adblocking just sooo very sweet. Take for example: The site is layouted nicely so that the space of the ads is used by the content when they are being blocked out. I use this site on a daily basis and am always shocked when I see it with ads, it’s just horrible :)

    On the other hand a lot of “less serious” sites manage to get around the adblocking mechanisms. I guess most of you have already gotten a popup despite poup- and ad-blockers…

    I guess it’s a decision up to the site owners: Let the users choose and get ripped-off or violate the users with some exploits to show them the ads anyway…

  213. 491

    I suggest using infomercials or selling merchandise over ads as well if you want to make money from blogging. I ignore ads myself; I’m using internet for well over a decade, but I doubt I clicked more than 100 ads in total.

  214. 492

    This is actually among the list of greater articles regarding those that We’ve stay with me this kind of issue these days. Great do the job.

  215. 493

    Although this comment is a little late and will likely go unnoticed, those who opposed my view stated here should read this site:

    That’s the kind of garbage the internet will be filled with if we reject unobtrusive and properly placed ads (which is what I was promoting in this piece). You can say the business model of banner ads is flawed, but the site linked above is currently paying thousands of dollars in ad revenue on various web design blogs in order to promote this alternative unethical means of advertising.

    Here’s a quote from that page:

    Selling links through MageNet is absolutely safe for your sites since Google cannot detect that these links are paid.

    In other words, even though they know that Google’s terms of service do not permit paid links that aren’t marked with “nofollow”, they encourage it and make money off it.

    So, for those who want to have the internet without banner ads, you’ll now have a compromise in place: Content where you can’t distinguish between what is ad and what is not.

    Is it really worth it?

  216. 494

    I’m a budding net marketer, not a designer. Think it’s just the way things go. Something like this provides opportunities for the cream to rise to the top. For site owners to explore other ways of monetizing their site traffic.

    Don’t think it’s all that difficult. Only been researching the topic for a couple hours and already seeing some solutions and opportunities to use the situation to my advantage. Bad for ad serve networks ? yes … Bad for site owners ? Depends on how adaptable they are.

    Put your thinking caps on folks. Anytime someone comes up with something … Someone else can come up with ways to counter it. Then the beat goes on … The adblock developers come out with a new approach. The people who depend on ads have to do likewise.

    Coming across some disturbing stats about how prominent the usage of this kind of adblock software is though. Number of weekly downloads etc. Just look at the results of this poll !!! Yikes.

    I actually like the way things are developing, for many reasons. It’s going to punch internet giants like google in the breadbasket. Since like 97% of their revenues are advertising. I don’t like the megacorp netgods … aka: Google/facebook/Binghooo etc.

    They are really only ever doing anything out of selfish reasons anyway. They don’t really give a crap about their users. They ever endeavor to squeeze every nickle out of people they can. So if it hurts them … I like it.

    As for hurting site owners ? Actually, just me … but really approve of that too. A good % of the web is just nonsense and trash content. Or duplicate content that got resyndicated 292 million times. So if they depend on ad revenue to keep useless net pollution sites up. Then good for adblockers !!!

    The really useful and relevant sites will survive anyway. Cause they have an actual value … A little common sense and they can find ways other than adsense etc. to monetize web traffic.

    It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if 87% of the sites online didn’t manage to survive the shake out. I’ve spent many a net research hour cursing about coming across irrelevant site after irrelevant site. If all those waste sites crash due to dried up ad revenues. Then more’s the better.

    Maybe people can find quality content about something of interest in 10mins … Instead of having to dig through trash sites for 10hrs.

  217. 495

    When did it suddenly become fashionable to share everything and sacrifice our own comfort for others? Honestly, if individuals were not allowed to be a little selfish and seek a little personal comfort there would be no successful people in the world today.

  218. 496

    Where can I get an AD BLOCKER?

    I am sick and tired of advertisements that automatically drive across my screen when I open my browser, or pictures of women pretending to dance, then pretending to get caught in front of the camera.

    Advertisements that just run down the side of the websites I visit are invisible to me anyhow; I have no impulse to either look at them or buy anything they are selling. I see them as entities that only take up space.

    Bottom line: I completely disagree with this article and all of the reasons the author states that internet advertisements are worthwhile. I say get rid of them permanently.

    – Magrathea


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