Online advertising uses ingenious technologies to find its way into our digital lives. A common belief is that advertising is ever-intrusive with, occasionally, overly aggressive intentions. How many times have you been startled by a pop-up ad or a video ad automatically playing out of the blue?
When we think of the benefits of having an ad-free Internet, seldom do we stop to ponder on the ramifications it has on content access and content quality. As it turns out, while ad blocking may have short-term benefits for the Internet user, the consequences for both consumer and content provider are numerous and interdependent.
Rethinking Online Advertising
Quality online content comes with a cost. Authors, journalists, researchers, bloggers dedicate time and intellectual effort to provide you with news, insightful ideas and knowledge. The content which you can easily access online, costs the publisher money.
When you turn on ad blocking you minimize the content publisher’s revenue. While ad blocking does have an indirect effect on publishers earning through cost per click based ads, many large publishers use ad-impressions (CPM) to earn from advertising.
So, each time an ad is displayed it’s counted as an ad-impression, irrespective of whether the user clicks on it. These ad-impressions translate into money which is used by the content publisher to pay authors, journalists, researchers, staff and finally itself if presumably they have any profits left.
What’s in it for me?
In some peculiar, paradoxical way, advertising benefits you. When you see beyond the momentary nuisance an ad might cause you, you can recognize the purpose it serves which is to offer you free access to information and news. Online advertising ensures the content provider earns back the money spent for providing that content in the first place.
Think of your favorite website, the one you visit before even checking your email (which says a lot), do you ad-block it? In essence, ad blocking is a refusal to acknowledge a website’s usefulness and purpose. It shows contempt towards those that make possible for you to learn about the latest developments in cloud technology and how scientists found that investing in ageing delay is more lucrative than investing in heart disease research.
You tip a bad service at a restaurant, why refuse to be exposed to advertising if it’s a way to give back to your favorite website?
So, why is blocking ads hurting the internet more than you think?
1. Free access NO MORE
Advertising is a significant (and in many cases – only) source of revenue for publications and other online information websites. Bloggers and other professionals use advertising to make up for their time spent creating the content you read. With less ad revenue, big and smaller content providers are financially damaged. The New York Times, Boston Globe and Britain’s The Times use different paid digital content models in an effort to improve revenue and counteract losses, which ad blocking causes.
While paid digital content models seem like a drastic initiative, we should consider how efficient ad blocking has become. AdTrap is a configuration device that filters your Internet connection, providing you an ad-free Internet. It effectively intercepts ads so you can enjoy videos, content and movies without any ads to distract you. While this might sound like an Internet experience nirvana, its ramifications are beyond count.
Ad blocking is urging publications and media giants to experiment with different revenue models as they realize online advertising is no longer a viable option mainly due to the proliferation and enhancement of ad blocking technologies. Using pay walls is not exactly a million-dollar idea, in fact many times it have had the opposite effect, with subscriptions being very poor and online visitors heading to alternative free newspapers for their daily news fix.
While there were some failed attempts of introducing pay walls for online news content, the rationale is nonetheless justifiable. People pay for print copies of their dailies, why shouldn’t they pay a token for accessing online content by the same publication. What makes online copy less valuable than print copy that it should be free?
As ad blocking increases, companies will come up with unpleasant for the consumer strategies to counteract their advertising revenue losses. The lines between content and advertisements will become more blurred. Native ads, which is repackaging of advertorials, is being adopted.
By blocking ads, technically we are not killing the root cause, we are just stopping one channel (display ads) and pushing publishers to merge them in the content.
2. Quality GONE
While some companies use paid subscription models to increase revenue, others find ways to minimize content creation costs. This often means that online content will become less frequent and/or of a lesser quality.
Outsourcing content creation is an approach taken by many online media and publications who wish to decrease content creation costs by hiring low-paying professionals. As it’s often the case, such outsourcing endeavors yield poor quality content. Expertise does come with a cost.