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Paying to Block Ads: It Should Go To The Content Creators, Not Some 3rd Party.

I don’t run ads here and there’s a really simple reason for that: I have the luxury of not needing to. This blog is one of my longest running hobbies and whilst the cost to me is non-zero in terms of time and actual cash I’m willing to eat both those costs simply for the love of it. There is a point where I’ve told myself that I’ll start running ads (that’s the point where I can make a living off doing this) but that’s somewhere in the order of 50 times the traffic I’m receiving today. Not an impossible goal really but certainly a long way off from where I currently am.

It’s for that particular reason that I don’t run ad blocking services on my browser. You see for the most part I don’t even really notice the ads unless they start forming obvious patterns or have obnoxious auto-playing music and I figure that as a fellow content creator I understand their reason for being there. Even though I don’t usually click on them I know that the author is getting at least some kind of reward for providing that information for free to me, even if it’s not much. I completely support everyone else’s freedom to block ads as they see fit however as I know that overall they’re in a minority and they won’t be the death of free online content any time soon.

Then I read this article titled “How Much Would You Pay to Never See an Online Ad Again?” thinking that it might be some new inventive start-up idea like Flattr which would be working with publishers in order to get rid of advertising on their site. AdTrap is in fact quite the opposite being a hardware device that sits between your modem and router (it actually necessitates that configuration which rules out people using integrated devices) that works to remove ads before they reach your browser. Taken at face value the marketing makes it sound like a pretty fantastic device given all the features it’s touting (many of which are not born of it, simply of the way it connects into your existing infrastructure) and it can be yours all for the low price of $120.

Now granted I had some idea in my head of what AdTrap was (care of the title of the article that led me to it) so it’s possible some of my angst directed towards this product is born of that but I’m not totally on board with the idea of paying someone else in order to block ads. It’s one thing to provide that kind of technology for free, that’s kind of expected on the Internet, but building a business around denying revenue to content creators doesn’t sit right with me. I’d be much more on board with being able to pay people directly in order to remove ads, a la Reddit Gold, rather than some 3rd party who isn’t really doing anything for the content creators with their product.

In the end I guess it doesn’t really matter that much as again the number of users who actually end up buying one of these things will be in the minority and won’t have any meaningful impact on revenue. I guess I just take issue with people profiting from such an endeavour as the motives then change from being simply altruistic to maximising their revenue at the cost of other’s. I’m not going to go on some crusade to try and take them down however as the market will be the final judge of it and if the people want something like this then it was inevitable that it would be created.

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  1. ” building a business around denying revenue to content creators doesn’t sit right with me” – Good point.

    Honestly, I can’t see how this product could sell. Most of the research on internet advertising shows it is significantly less eye-catching than other forms. I simply don’t see it on 98% of websites I visit, and I suspect that’s true for most of my generation. Worse, we discount the value of the sites, and the related products for those ads we do see.

    It’s a viscous cycle, one newspapers are struggling to make it through, but I’m also hopeful it will lead to much better targeted ads. I don’t need a mass ad designed for new mothers or sheep farmers (as my TV seems to display), but I may just click on one that offers me books for cheap, or a good deal on some new hardwear. Using offline forms of advertising online (mass market, no targeting) is foolish, but bring some of those new systems to bear and you may just find me much more willing to part with my money.

  2. Anecdotally my experience is very much the same, I simply don’t notice most ads and figure that it’s worth leaving them up there so the creators can recoup some of their costs. I can’t say I’m completely immune though as there are several sites I’ve gone to via ads so they do work on some level, even if their hit rate is far lower than other mediums.

    I’m hoping that they can improve their algorithms for display ads as well as 90% of the time I’m getting fed ads for things which I’ve directly researched myself. Whilst this might work on some people it’s something of a deterrent for me, especially if it was just a curiosity that I wanted to check out. I may have once been interested in buying a synthetic diamond (you know, for the heck of it) but berating me with ads about it for months afterwards isn’t going to wear me down into buying one.

    I am a picky consumer, however ;)

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