Thaya Kareeson from Omninoggin recently pointed me in the direction of a site called AdBlock.org, a site that seems to have a similar view of of ad blockers as my own.
Adblocking software is a response to abusive activity by advertisers.
It’s the continuation of what amounts to an arms race between advertisers and adblock software developers. If the cycle of ad blocking and more agressive advertising continues, ultimately we all lose in a classic “tragedy of the commons” scenario, where overuse of a common resource can cause it’s ruin.
At adblock.org, we’re interested in discussing the issues, and pushing for all parties to stop the battle and work toward cleaning up the advertising mess that’s been created on the Internet.
They hit the nail on the head. Ad blocking software came into existence because of bad advertising practices. Badly designed ads, once that were intrusive and useless to the reader, drove people to a method of escape: Block the ads.
But not all ads are bad. The ads most people think of are the ones from major banner ad networks, and the Pay Per Click ads from providers such as AdSense. Those are the ones most people have a problem with, because they all too often provide little value to the end user, and lessen their experience on the website.
What of the other ads? Not every ad is as bad as the rest. What of the unobtrusive ads sold directly to advertisers, without a middleman ad network, ones carefully approved for lack of annoyance. What of the ads from the new breed of smaller, caring ad networks, such as Buy Sell Ads?
Not all ads are created equal, which is something people don’t seem to understand. Yet it is vitally important. Websites are supported by the advertisements that they run. Without the ads, many sites would cease to exist, and they certainly would if ad blocking went fully mainstream.
One of Firefox’s more popular extensions is AdBlock Plus, an add-on that can stop ads from showing as you browse the web. There are two ways to use it. You can selectively kill ads that are so annoying that you can’t stand them (e.g. the ones that float over content or play audio), or you can install a filter subscription that will automatically block any ads that fit the extensive criteria.
Now I like AdBlock, don’t get me wrong. I use it selectively, to remove ads that I find offensive or that hinder my use of a site too much. However, I don’t blanket-block ads like many people do. Why? Because the ads pay for the sites that produce free content for my consumption. I don’t like the flashing “Click here for a free iPod” ads any more than anyone else, but not all ads are like them. There are some ads that just sit there quietly, promoting a product that I don’t mind being shown. Those ads, the reasonable ones, are the way ads should be. They benefit the site, the advertiser, and ideally the reader. AdBlock only came into existence because of the annoying ads, the ones that give online advertising a bad name.
Imagine my indignation when I realized that the “EasyList + EasyElement” filter for AdBlock (one of the most popular filter subscriptions) was automatically blocking the 125×125 ads in my sidebar. I go through a lot to put those ads there. I work hard to make sure that they are unobtrusive, and I spend a fair bit of time communicating with companies to make ad deals. Not only does blocking them cheat the advertisers out of what they are paying for, it hurts my chances of them continuing to advertise.
Domainers have long put AdSense blocks on their parked domains, in an attempt to make some extra cash off the higher-traffic ones. This practice is technically against the AdSense terms of service, and isn’t really fair to the advertisers, but Google had not done anything about it. After all, they get a cut of the deal.
Now Google has made available, to all users of the AdSense network in North America (other continents to follow), AdSense for Domains, a “legitimate” way to monetize parked domains.
I had a feeling it wouldn’t be too long until people starting looking for ways to make money off Twitter. Over the past few weeks I’ve watched Magpie spread through the Twitterverse, and seen users’ response to it.
They don’t like it.
The general idea behind Magpie is similar to that of Pay Per Post. You sign up, and set a post frequency. Then Magpie will add a paid tweet every x (the post frequency you set) tweets. The only disclosure is a “#magpie” hashtag at the start.
Are you an AdSense maniac or an affiliate fanatic? Do you direct-sell ad space to advertisers like I do on Webmaster-Source?
Or are you part of a marketplace like BuySellAds, or a network like Casale Media or Doubleclick?
Or is your blog an ad-free zone?
Take a minute to vote in this poll (no registration, no hassles, just two clicks), and maybe elaborate upon your choice a little in a comment. We’d like to know.
I’ll start. I direct-sell 125×125 ads on Webmaster-Source mainly, and I voted that since it’s my largest source of blog income. I do have a single AdSense block that I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete (I’m halfway to another check again ), and I put the occasional affiliate link in, but mainly I try to keep to the 125x125s, which are noticeable enough, yet unobtrusive enough not to be a bother.
Okay, now it’s your turn. Vote in the poll below, and share what your solution is. (If you’re reading this in an RSS reader, you’ll need to click through to the permalink to vote in the poll.)
Where do you use your smartphone the most?
EVERYWHERE! Whenever I have a chance! (86%, 6 Votes)
Want to learn a little more about how to effectively monetize online content? Be sure to listen to the Online Advertising For Newbies podcast from South by Southwest. It was recorded by a panel of people who know what they’re talking about, such as blogger Darren Rowse, DoubleClick manager Heath Row, blogger Wendy Piersall, and AdBrite VP of Sales Jim Benton.
The podcast covers a reasonably wide range of methods to monetize a website, and good practices for doing so. It’s definitely worth listening to if you’re slightly above “ad newbie” status, and are trying to find something better than pushing AdSense blocks in people’s faces.
(As a side note, I wonder if this should really be called a podcast. Technically it isn’t, since it’s a single audio file, instead of a series of episodes delivered via RSS. But how many people really care?)
When you think of monetizing a blog, what immediately comes to mind? Google’s AdSense, right? AdSense is easy to set-up, and pretty much all legitimate sites are accepted into the program, so it’s the method most bloggers use right away. However, AdSense has it’s shortcomings, as do other monetization methods. It doesn’t work well for blogs in some niches, less and less people click them, etc. Luckily, there’s a better option.
The 125×125 ad, used by “big blogs” like ProBlogger, TechCrunch, and ReadWriteWeb, they are a great way to monetize blogs. I’ve been using them for a couple of months with great success. It’s taken me a year and a half to reach $100 in AdSense earnings; meanwhile I’ve made over $140 so far by direct-selling ads.
125x125s are, as their name suggests, square ads of one hundred twenty five pixels in both directions. They’re fairly unobtrusive, unlike monstrous leaderboard banners, and they’re less susceptible to banner blindness problems. They are the Bloggers’ Ad Format, thought-up by bloggers, and suiting their style of site well. The ads are sold directly to advertisers, cutting out the ad network middleman, and leaving you with more work on your part…but the difference in income is much greater.