Reply to post: Re: RE: " won't get content..."

Blocking ads? Smaller digital publishers are smacked the hardest


Re: RE: " won't get content..."

Yep, the situation is complex.

Undoubtedly there are a few people who will publish either altruistically or for vanity reasons just so they can be seen. But I would say that the majority of publishers want some kind of return on the time and money it takes to create and maintain a web presence. A large news organization, to take your example, could maybe maintain an ad-free website if it promoted sales of a physical newspaper (which would probably be ad-supported itself) but physical newspapers are in decline, and paywalled websites are also met with hostility. Smaller publishers providing entertainment or expert opinion and information have no physical sales to promote - their only source of income is their audience.

At the end of the day, website publishers are offering a package to the public - a combination of some content the public wants (otherwise why would they be on the site?) and a means of paying for the provision of that content. That's the bargain that's being offered. If people don't like that package then the most ethical thing to do is to not visit the site - and that would have the right feedback effect to drive sites to show ads of an acceptable quantity and quality.

Blocking ads provides no feedback to the advertisers, or to the publisher, and so it does nothing to improve the situation as a whole. Yes, it's beneficial in the short term for the viewer who blocks ads, but it is a parasitic relationship and sooner or later the 'hosts' start to suffer. Some will go under as a result.

The argument "'I never click on ads, so nobody loses if I block them" does not hold water - the content publisher certainly does lose out. It's like the argument "I wouldn't pay for this MP3 so it's fine to copy it". That's not the deal that's on offer - if you don't like the deal then it's fine to walk away, but it's not fine to just make up some other deal and assume that's ok with everyone else. It isn't.

But equally, there are certainly problems with intrusive ads, and particularly malvertising. It's unfortunate that there really is no easy way for pre-approved micropayments to be made when visiting a site, as this would be the ideal arrangement. No middlemen (ok, maybe the hypothetical micropayment management company), no annoying ads, and a more direct, open and visible payment system. But it doesn't exist, and the "everything on the internet should be free" culture means that it's unlikely ever to happen.

Yes, it's complex.

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