Blocking ads on websites is bad behavior


Originally posted in my old blog at My Opera

A lot of people really dislike any ads on a website. This shows in browsers too: Opera added a content blocker and Firefox has AdBlock and probably at least two other plugins for getting rid of ads. Some people even use separate ad blocking proxy tools such as Proxomitron and IP address blocks for servers known as ad servers.

I think people who block ads are wrong.

Why shouldn't I be blocking those ads on the websites you say.

For starters, a lot of people pay for their website hosting and domains with ads. Without ads, your favorite website might not exist, or it might cost you a certain amount of money per month to use it.
Many people don't realize this at all. I used to be one of them, but these days I've even clicked some ads that I wasn't interested in just to support some site I like.

If you watch TV, the chances are that they display ads, and you can't block or skip ads on TV. You will either have to watch the ads or change the channel and perhaps risk a bit of the show you were watching because you didn't tune back in on time. If TV didn't have ads, you might have a TV payment like we have in Finland: We get few channels with no ads, but for example I don't even watch them and I still have to pay it. On the internet, you can skip ads – Actually, you don't have to skip ads because they aren't blocking you from doing whatever you were, unlike the ads on TV.

You might think that comparing TV commercials with ads on websites isn't sensible, but the intent of both is often the same: To provide revenue to pay for other costs. You could throw in newspapers too; they have ads as well and they are more like the ads on websites.

Most of the time inline ads don't bother me. As long as the ad isn't blinking, distractingly animated or makes sounds, there should be no reason to not see it. There have even been times when an ad has introduced me to a genuinely useful product or service. Some ads are even a bit humorous – I often find the AdCouncil ads displayed on various sites funny.

Ad placement and colors are a big factors in making an ad annoying or not. Ad boxes in the middle of content which act like a big line break, such as some ads at are something I personally don't like that much.
They are the kind of ads which distract people: They might make you think that whatever you were reading ends there, but oh wait, it actually continues under the ad! Geez…

Sure, they are more visible when they are placed right where you would expect the text to be, but I think it's better to place them on the sides, or to the top and bottom of defined areas of content. When the ad is not breaking anything, it's less confusing and it can still be quite well visible to the users: For example, placing an ad between the content of a blogpost and the comments box.

Colors are probably a bit less of a factor, but very bright or contrasting colors and those which don't match the overall color scheme of the site in question are more likely to distract people.

Of course it's still possible to go overboard with ads. I have seen sites with too many ads, even to my liking. And ads which are animated or use Flash are a whole different issue… You can go wrong with those on so many more levels.

In the end it boils to a single thing: Do you want to support the sites you use or not?

I have some websites which I don't really care about that much; sites which are replaceable with some other one, but some of the sites I visit I wouldn't like to “vanish”, such as some blogs that write about things that I'm interested in, as there are not that many of them.
On those sites, I tend to try to click on ads at least once in a while, just out of courtesy: If a blogger notices that he actually can gain a bit of pocket money from his site, it's very likely that it will work as an incentive for him/her to post more quality articles.
The only time I seriously consider blocking ads on a site is when they are really bothering me.