Thursday, July 14, 2016

ple-e-e-e-ease turn off your adblocker

The wheedling messages from the honest-buck websites have been intensifying of late. Each site presents a variation on the same justification; advertising pays our way, and the more you block the less they pay.  It's a hard dilemma for the free-to-access web. But not a hard dilemma for me. I leave that website and find another which provides the content without complaints my adblocking plugin, or I don't access the content. That is, if I'm accessing the content from home, where I have an adblocker on. If I'm at work, I don't. In common with many people in large offices, when I'm on the office PC, I see the un-adblocked web.

What I don't see is a lot of adverts, though. Many crash the browser, fail to load, or stun the page into immobility while they painfully prepare their aggravating high volume autoplay video and audio content (lovely for the other people in the open-plan office). One of the major local news sites (which I need to access regularly for work reasons) is so prone to over-advertising that any time I need to load a page, I put it in a tab and wait while I do something else. Sometimes the page loads. Sometimes it takes a few times. Sometimes I either forget about that task or give up.

What all the wheedle-messages are missing is  the reason why we all have adblockers on. It's because web advertising is, for the large part, so very, very bad. On some sites, it contains such active content that blocking is simply good hygiene. Even on sites where the ads aren't trying to hack you, they often still run fast and loose with page and site stability, leave your web cache full of candy-coloured crud and jam the pages as they load. The adblocker is there for safety; not because I hate adverts, but because I cannot guarantee that the adverts I am being served will be safe.

Personally, I'm a long-term fan of advertising. As a child, I collected Silk Cut and Rimmel adverts. I stop my PVR to catch anything that looks interesting. And I would happily view web adverts if I was convinced that they were being properly tested, thoroughly checked and  their content curated - ideally to suit the content on the site, rather than stalkerishly and creepily for me (although that does provide the odd dark laugh).

The wheedle-message, though, never addresses this concern. It focuses instead on the immorality of viewing free content - an interesting position to take in an environment where that is the standard transaction. But that argument aside, a company - even one where you like the content, approve of the editorial, and enjoy what they do - the profit margin is not what the viewer will care about, not first and maybe not ever. What your visitors care about is seeing content that is interesting, and won't break the furniture or bust a blood vessel.

Address that concern in the wheedle messages and we'll all lose the adblockers on the next annoying update.