Ars Strikes A Chord: Ad Blocking Will Kill Your Favorite Sites

We've been good friends with the folks at Ars Technica for many years now.  Not only does their fearless leader Ken Fisher, hail originally from the Boston area (which of course makes us a bit partial), where HotHardware also had its start, but there is little arguing that the Ars team punches out high quality, informative and engaging coverage in the Tech space, week in and week out.  So, it's no surprise that we caught something rather riveting over at Ars recently that we'd like to share with you but this time, the messaging Ken Fisher himself came across with, hit home like nothing we've read in a long while.  We've been saying it all along to a few of you regulars around here at but Ken put it quite precisely when he titled his piece: Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love.

Fisher notes...
"There is an oft-stated misconception that if a user never clicks on ads, then blocking them won't hurt a site financially. This is wrong. Most sites, at least sites the size of ours, are paid on a per view basis. If you have an ad blocker running, and you load 10 pages on the site, you consume resources from us (bandwidth being only one of them), but provide us with no revenue. Because we are a technology site, we have a very large base of ad blockers. Imagine running a restaurant where 40% of the people who came and ate didn't pay. In a way, that's what ad blocking is doing to us. Just like a restaurant, we have to pay to staff, we have to pay for resources, and we have to pay when people consume those resources. The difference, of course, is that our visitors don't pay us directly but indirectly by viewing advertising."

A free lunch is tempting -- of course the quality might be directly proportional to what you paid.

Obviously, runs very much on this same model, as do virtually 99% of the sites you visit on a daily basis, whether they're Tech sites or otherwise.    It's real simple.  If you ad block, you are directly inflicting financial loss on the sites you visit every day.  As the Ars Technica piece points out, we have a budget here that has to be met, only one component of which is bandwidth and the rack of servers we have to maintain in order to serve you pages here from our database of articles.  Also, obviously, there is a team of writers here whoes livelihood is supported by the business model of Internet advertising as well.   It should almost go without saying and perhaps it's common sense, though common sense isn't all that common sometimes--ad blocking and even blocking Flash animation is very much like consuming any resource, while expecting someone else to pay for it.  Those "other" people never add up to enough support and eventually that resource will dry up.

In fact, we'd go one step further and offer that, especially here in the Tech segment, where etailers are big business and often times offer you better deals online than at brick and mortar shops, we'd encourage you to support the web advertising model more aggressively by researching products via ads here and other Tech sites, that you might be considering for purchase.  And if you find a good deal, help your click through "convert" to an actual sale.

IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report – 2008, Published March 2009

The great thing about the web as an advertising medium is that it is very easy to calculate return on investment in ad dollars and as a result more and more, big business is advertising here.  Unfortunately, with that kind of accountability and traceability, it's also easy to see when ads are being blocked and those ads of course go unpaid.  For the most part you can't really block advertising well on any other media, TV, Radio or Print.  Granted, there are exception cases where a site might abuse your bandwidth with very obtrusive ads but there is always an exception case and treating an exception case by penalizing all cases, is never a solution. 

In short, if you want the web's business model to continue to grow, evolve with more capabilities, power and resources for you as an end user, we'd suggest you do the right thing and support it properly.  Don't block web site advertising.  Thanks.