Jul 29, 2013

Does AdBlock do more harm than good?

I was thinking about the moral implications of AdBlock. Ok, ok, maybe that’s a little odd, but it was a long train ride this morning, and you have to think of something. On one hand, AdBlock stops the sometimes annoying ads on websites. On the other hand, I am using, and often enjoying, the content on those website, usually at no direct cost to myself, and the companies that run them have very real expenses, with much of their revenue generated by the advertising that AdBlock interferes with. So, is using AdBlock trading short term benefit for long term loss, as without sufficient revenue, those websites I enjoy are likely to scale back or even cease to exist. What do you think?

You should always whitelist the sites you visit regularly. If you do not, don't be surprised if they go out of business altogether or stop updating regularly. Sites need ad revenue, it's the way that most of the survive financially.

I wrote about this in a column a while back called "The Web's Welfare Readers."

The Web’s Welfare Readers

"There’s a new kind of person visiting web sites these days, I call them the web’s “welfare readers.” These are folks who feel deeply entitled to free content, without any sense of obligation to give anything back to the sites that produce the content they enjoy so much.

Who the heck are these welfare readers? I’ll explore that in this column."

Good point. I actually add website that I visit regularly to my exemptions list for AdBlock for exactly the reason you noted. I consume the content, and feel that it is only fair to support those people who generate that content. Now, I do think that some site make AdBlock more attractive through very aggressive advertising, such as multiple pop-ups, so I would put some responsibility on the site to examine what methods of advertising are (1) effective, and (2) don’t drive visitors away.

Interesting question. You can make an argument that using AdBlock violates your part of the unwritten agreement between websites that offer free content along with ads and people who visit those sites. On the other hand, advertisers and content providers frequently mine your personal information and browsing history to server contextualized ads without your knowledge or consent.

Answer this