It seems the good folks over at Smashing Magazine have started a bit of a shit storm. To be honest, the article was written by a guest columnist as an opinion piece, but, as with a newspaper, once something is published under your banner, it’s hard to retract. The article in question, “Why Designers Should Not Use Ad-Blockers” seems to suggest that most anyone that uses an ad-blocker plugin/application is tantamount to a thief and should mend their evil way less the web is thrown into a state a choas and anarchy. For starters, I can’t believe Smashing Magazine would publish something this obviously slanted, to which I hold them and their editorial staff exclusively responsible, but I also can’t believe that this train of thought actually exists, let alone that it’s some sort of prevailing wisdom.
Just for fun, let’s examine some of the author’s, Louis Lazaris, points.
I’ll start this article with a positive statement: Most people frequenting the web design community understand that nothing is truly free and appreciate the fact that many blogs, design resources, and tech news sites rely on advertising to keep them afloat.”
Hardly a positive statement Louis. Let’s simplify that into “Most designers appreciate that ads make them money”. I think that’s a fair distillation of his point. I would argue that most designers loath advertisements. We don’t like creating them, we don’t like using them, they take up space and steal attention away from our content and designs all for the benefit of a few pennies. Web marketing has been both ineffective and intrusive since it’s birth in the 90’s. I’m glad I’m old enough to remember the beginning of the web with a feeling of nostalgia and pride that it was something truly unique. Pages, of content, linked together to form a rough web of documents, serving the greater good. With in evolution of advertising, we’ve completely and totally lost the original purpose of the web: the information.
But unfortunately, not everyone gets this, and not everyone understands that with some viral pushing of certain trends and ideas, we as a community could be inadvertently shooting ourselves in the foot while we try to make our own browsing experience less ad-intrusive, and more comfortable.”
This entire statement is confusing. It basically says “Because people don’t “get” the trends that “we” are pushing, we could be hurting ourselves because “we” don’t want to see ads”. Gee-wiz Louis, what a deep and thought provoking statement. “People are too stupid to understand the garbage we’re hocking, and since we’re smart enough to not want to see our own ads, our campaigns clearly aren’t working.” Let’s cut to the chase here. If YOU don’t want to see your own ad, it’s not a good ad! This entire statement also insults two entire groups of people. The first un-named group of “not everyone” clearly doesn’t understand marketing. The second group, those nefarious ad-blockers, are selfish pricks for not wanting to see ads. The underlying statement is that people are either too stupid or too selfish, which doesn’t take into account the all important “choice” of the user, but we’ll get to that.
Because of the advent of social media and the apparent ease with which trends, habits, and ideas can be spread, and because of the incredible speed with which such ideas can be spread, the mere discussion of ads being too intrusive on web design blogs could cause a serious problem in a presently-thriving community.”
“Because trends spread fast, talking about ads is bad”. Did I get that right? Why? Why would talking about ads being too intrusive possibly be a bad thing? Advertisement ARE intrusive. What 99.9% of the population forgets is that we allow these advertisements into our both our public and personal spaces. Ads will go as far as we let them. Period. If ads become too intrusive into our lives it is not only our right but our obligation to stand up and say “no, I do not want to see these ads in this manner”. Let’s take an example or two. Nike brands their t-shirts and hats with their “swoosh” logo. People, identifying with the brand, purchase these items and wear them. They are essentially advertising for Nike every time they wear one. What if they took the next step? If Nike invented some sort of e-ink t-shirt that displayed an animated, ever changing ad on the back of it, and essentially turned people into walking billboards, I would hope that those t-shirts wouldn’t sell very well. People can tolerate and accept a small “swoosh” on fabric. But if a shirt started talking to you about the virtues of Nike, that would be the line. It would have been crossed. No one would want that.
To break it down even further, you have the right, as a consumer (regardless of your occupation as a designer) to not view intrusive advertisements. Period.
Ad Blocks Hinder the Community: The design blogging community would not be what it is today without ads.”
I’m not really sure I could actually disagree more. That statement reaches maximum disagreement with me. To infer that websites are what they are because of ads is simply retarded. If it’s more a statement of longevity than quality, than this website is a perfect example of how that’s horribly misguided. This might be a quiet, less-visited corner of the internet, but this website (and my many others) have been running for over TEN YEARS. I have never had advertising on my site. I generate ZERO revenue from these websites. I have no intention of EVER generating ad revenue from these sites. I support this site out of my own pocket. I write content on my own time and for my own enjoyment. If you’re started a website solely to generate ad revenue YOU are what’s horribly wrong with the internet today.
We should be proud that we are part of a community whose advertisements are often from high-quality software and app development companies.”
Huh? Why would I be proud of someone else’s work? Even if it is high-quality and useful, I don’t feel “proud” about it. Oh, and this “community” you’re talking about, doesn’t include YOU. The application developers have a community, and trust me, they don’t consider advertising designers to be part of it. If you actually think you, as a designer, are part of their community, you’re got bigger problems than a crappy ad campaign.
Oh, and by the way, when you title a paragraph something like “Ad Blockers Hinder the Community”, you might want to actually talk about HOW it hinders the community. Your entire train of though consisted of “ads are good” and “isn’t it nice that applications are cool”. Wow.
Ad Blockers Promote a Me-First Attitude. Nothing succeeds when individuals are selfish. Ultimately, selfishness will lead to demise because a community cannot truly thrive if the individuals that comprise it are only in it for themselves. When you choose to block ads while you surf the web, you’re basically saying “I only care about my own comfort, and I don’t want anyone else to benefit from my web surfing.” It’s a shame that any web designer would have that attitude.”
I’ll give you partial credit for that one, but only for the first part. Yes, communities are built by 2+ people. You can’t have a “community” of 1. That extends to just about everything web related. You need people to read and respond for a community to be active. What on earth does that have to do with advertising? Just curious. “When you choose to blocks ads….” Ok, here’s where my problems really begin. I don’t block ads for “my own comfort” any more than I let prison convicts frolic on my back yard because they could use the exercise. I block ads, especially Flash ads, because they are a huge security nightmare. Ads on webpages and in emails are, realistically, responsible for about 75% of all viruses on computers these days. If you don’t block normal ads, you won’t block malicious ads and if you don’t block malicious ads, you’re reinstalled operating systems every weekend. Fuck you for thinking I’m selfish for not wanting my computers to be gaping security holes. Also, I “have that attitude” and I’m a web designers. I don’t put ads on any of the sites I design, and I’m fucking proud of it.
What would happen if ad blocker plugins started spreading like wildfire throughout the design community, rendering virtually all ads useless? That would be a terrible thing, and would effectively destroy many of our favorite blogs…”
No, that would be fucking Utopia. Xanadu. El Dorado. If everyone blocked every ad we might possibly get back to the golden age of the internet, when people wrote and communicated, not for points on some imaginary SEO scoreboard, but because they genuinely wanted to share information with people. Louis’ argument is that without ad revenue, the internet would shrivel up and die. I just don’t see that happening. You would see a drastic reduction in websites that solely existed to generate revenue, yes. I don’t really see the downside to that. My website would still exist. I would still do what I do. I know a half dozen people in the “community” that would still create Photoshop tutorials, plugins, tips and tricks, just because they would want to share it with their fellow man, not for some ad-revenue greed. Sure, ads might help a site that’s struggling to help pay for their hosting bandwidth, but so might any alternative source of income. Premium content, subscriptions, sponsored contests and giveaways. I could go on and on.
Ad Blockers Could Cause a Mini “dot com bust”. I’m in no position to intelligently analyze the dot com bubble burst or “dot com bust” of the late 90s, but if we promote an “everything should be free” industry, then we’re just setting ourselves up for something similar.”
You’re right, you are in no position to intelligently analyze anything. Neither am I, but here we are. I don’t claim to know what websites ad revenues are, but I would imagine that it’s only a smart part of their financial situation. The “bubble burst” wasn’t even based on ad-revenues. The burst happened because web-based companies were taking on huge sums of venture capital cash and then realizing that they only income they had WAS advertising and that it wasn’t enough to keep them afloat. Learn your web history before you bash it.
No, these advertisers are not making these website owners rich, they’re putting thousands of dollars into the design community, which is positively affecting all of us.”
Really? Did you get a check from someone else’s website recently? You can only speak to what you know, which is what you said in the paragraph before, so why would you assume that website owners aren’t making money and why would you assume that it’s benefiting YOU at all if you’re not directly seeing results/income?
When I worked for a big design agency here in Toronto, I almost always used Internet Explorer for my browsing. My co-workers didn’t understand why I used IE so much. Mainly I did so because I was used to it from years of using IE6. But it was also great because it gave me a realistic view of the web, because I saw things the way our clients did.”
Wow. You know what, your co-workers were right. All this time I thought you were just in the pocket of ad agencies. Now it seems pretty clear that you’re simply disillusion as well. I can’t believe you actually just said the phrase “I used IE6 because it gave me a realistic view of the web”. Wow, just wow. That’s so wrong on so many levels. You websites, while they should “work” on IE6, should never have been designed specifically for it. Hell, even when IE6 was brand-new, everyone knew it was crap. Back then, you designed in tables, in the simplest code you could, so that IE6 wouldn’t mangle it all to hell. I can only imagine the nightmare your IT department must have had with your machine if you were running IE6 without any safe-guards. Wow.
As a community, we should take a stand against any person or blog that promotes the use of plugins or other methods that effectively take money out of the pockets of the very people who are willing to put money into our community.”
No. As a community we should take a stand against people telling us how we should and should not view the web. The web would be a wonderful place without ads. I firmly believe that. I think I’ve even stated my case pretty well to that end. All you’ve managed to do is tell people that they’re selfish assholes for taking money out of your the community’s pocket.
If you run a web design blog, don’t promote the use of these browser plugins, and don’t complain about the amount of ads that appear on your favorite blogs — because you probably wouldn’t even know about those blogs if they didn’t have ads on them.”
I would know about those blogs because I READ content and when people talk about other websites, and leave these little things called “links” all over the place, I generally follow them if I’m interested. I do not “know” about a website because of it’s ad on another website. Perhaps if more people like those in your make-believe “community” wrote quality content, shared links and had open discussions (like we’re having now) we wouldn’t need ads in the first place. What a wonderful world that would be. Oh, and just to rub salt in the wound.