Culture

Fix your crappy ads and I’ll stop blocking them

Ad-block users are finding an increasing number of sites blocking access. I wonder if any of them asked themselves why we block ads? Do they suppose we’re anti-capitalist scum fundamentally opposed to the idea of marketing? It sometimes feels that way. But I’m not opposed to marketing, and I feel the internet has a lot of missed opportunities. Unfortunately, most ads are intrusive, poorly targeted, scummy and have a host of technical issues. Basically they’re just crap. And that’s why I block them.

Intrusive distractions

It’s hard to read something with a blinking light or bouncing bunny beside it. It’s not interesting, it’s not cute. It’s minimal attractive power is drowned by it’s repulsiveness. Stop it.

This also applies to dynamic ads, the ones that scroll, or otherwise switch while I’m on the page. I’m not going to be on one page very long, there’s absolutely no reasons to cycle ads. Just wait until I get to the next page.

Certainly stop with the “clever” overlays and popups. If something is in the way of the content, or has ungraciously interrupted me, all I do is look for the little ‘x’. If that’s not there then I just close the browser tab.

Far too often ads treat me as adversary, somebody to be conquered, rather than as a valued visitor.

Targetting and tracking isn’t working

For all the hype about big data, user tracking and profile building I fail to see any benefits to marketing. The best ads I get are still the ones directly bound to keywords in a search engine (though even those are often poor). Everything else just seems like it’s been randomly fished out of a septic tank.

These automated ad networks rarely seem to give ads relevant to the content of the page. It’s the reason why I turned ads off on my blog. I didn’t think my readers appreciated seeing endless deodorant ads. Why didn’t they see ads for technical conferences or programming tools? Why didn’t my content about graphics programming show ads for graphics cards or at least video games?

Brain-dead statistical matching of page content to ad content would do a better job of targeting than whatever systems are in place now. I want to see ads that are relevant to the content, something that doesn’t feel like a distraction.

Scummy garbage

Ads should never lead to malware or scams. No exceptions. It demonstrates an incredible contempt for the audience.

Ads should not lead to cheap white label sites. These sites that have no value-add are of no interest to anybody.

Stop using obvious click bait. I’m okay with enticing or provocative ads. I’m not okay with outright lies and deception.

Stop showing garbage ads. If the click-rate has fallen well below average then stop showing it. It’s an obvious failure.

Slow and invasive

There’s no good reason an ad should be loading a JavaScript file. This bloat slows down the browser. Simple HTML+CSS, or an image, should suffice for ads.

Obviously if the content of the page is a video, or audio, then video and audio ads are also acceptable.

Stop loading data from third-party websites. This is a security and privacy issue. There’s no technical reason why all ads can’t be served from the site I’m visiting. It can still communicate with ad servers, just do it on the backend.

You’d think this would be the most obvious first step if a site is actually opposed to ad blockers. Blocking third-party content is much easier than blocking something that looks like part of the actual content.

Just stop it!

I occasionally see the web without ad blockers: when I get a new computer, or phone, or when I upgrade my browser. It’s more than just unpleasant, it’s downright unusable. Ad blocking is the only sane option.

There’s no technical problem preventing unobtrusive, responsive, and lean ads. Having a targeted relevant ad would really just be a bonus, but seems to make the most sense from an advertising perspective.

Fix the ads and I’ll happily let them through.

8 replies »

  1. “Slow and invasive”

    This is the main reason for me. Most browsers just hangup or crash. Some even go as far as freezing the system leaving me to force reboot. Part of the blame goes to poor performance from chrome & firefox on Linux.

    Indian news websites have adopted this blocking technique enmasse. I have come to the conclusion that I will stop reading those websites instead of re-enabling the ads.

  2. I so totally agree. With uBlock Origin I allow non-tracking adverts only and have to use Adblocker for Youtube or I’d be driven nuts on that site with all their idiotic over video adverts.

  3. I agree with every point in this article except one: Even if advertisers fix every point you laid out, users will NEVER turn off ad blocking.

    For me, ad blockers never work well anyway. They wind up blocking legitimate content.

    I don’t even really see the pop up ads anymore. It’s just crap in my peripheral vision to be ignored.

    • I don’t think this is true. People aren’t adverse to ads. A commenter elsewhere noted they used to enjoy looking at ads in magazines. Yet on the web advertisers never captured the same feeling. Nobody talks about web ads like they might a TV ad.

      I buy things regularly and would welcome ads for the types of things I buy: music, games, electronics, and certain food products, to name a few. I often actively search for products as well, and would definitely welcome ads in that case.

      I want quality advertising since it helps me as a consumer.

  4. I inject code into a local proxy which highlights links to sites that employ aggressive ads. In other words, I don’t block the ads, I avoid visiting the sites altogether.

    • I wish social sites employed that filter by default. It’s like a NSFW tag, the SARS (shit-ad-resides-here) tag. This would really start hurting advertisers and websites that allow them.

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