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Does Ad Blocking Affect Your Business? 99

yocto wonders: "From the individual's point of view we already know why you block adverts, but not from a business perspective. What is the impact on your business when your company's ads are blocked by using an ad blocker or a script blocker? How is your company's exposure or revenue affected by this? Is it still worth your effort to make use of online ads?"
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Does Ad Blocking Affect Your Business?

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  • I wouldn't worry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by celardore ( 844933 ) * on Thursday September 28, 2006 @05:47PM (#16237585)
    Yes, it is still useful for business to utilise online advertising. Take AdWords for instance, you pay only for clicks through to your site. Users that block ads aren't likely to be the ones clicking the advertisements, and you don't pay for them. I'd say it doesn't affect business, it's probably better actually - you don't pay for visitors that aren't going to be interested.

    Abandoning an online advertisement strategy because some people block them is like deciding against billboards because some people are blind.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Fyre2012 ( 762907 )
      I completely agree with you, and also find it interesting to notice the shift in paradigm with regard to people's attitudes towards online advertising.

      It's interesting to know that only a few short years ago, the usefullness of advertising, in a receptive sense for business, was non existant. There was only spam. People were clamoring how useless it is and how we must block it from corporate networks, etc.
      Here today we praise this technology.
      Now, with 'targeted' advertising, the exposure to an arra
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "I'd say it doesn't affect business, it's probably better actually - you don't pay for visitors that aren't going to be interested."

      Since ad blocking software isn't that discerning. One can't say that they're not interested in what one is offering. Only that one is not interested in ads from a given url. This is a similiar problem to what software like nannywatch face. What is acceptable and what isn't and getting it right 100% of the time.
      • by fotbr ( 855184 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:23PM (#16239967) Journal
        The point is that people who go out of their way to avoid ads (ie, by using adblock or whatever) are the same people who wouldn't click on them ANYWAY.

        From a business point of view, its a non-issue since they weren't going to get that person anyway.

        From the consumer point of view, they're not blocking specific types of ads, they're blocking ALL adds (or at least as many as they can) -- thats their goal, and adblock and the like are pretty good at it.
        • You do nto have to go out of your way to block virtually all ads. adblock and an automatic rule updater do this very well already.

          It is of course rather non-selective, and I might miss some ads I'd like to have seen, but the overall annotance that ads cause is bigger then the slight advantage they provide that I am missing.

          Annoyance? moving pictures, bright and ugly colors, slowdown of websites, slowdown of my browser.
          • by fotbr ( 855184 )
            You're going "out of your way" to block ads by using adblock. Until a browser has it built-in and turned-on-by-default, you're going out of your way to block ads.
            • Seeing how easy it is to install extensions, no.

              I did at some point 'go out of my way' to find a solution that works well and requires very little efford, but beyond that there is no 'going out of my way'.

              As a matter of fact, most plugins (flash, java etc) require more efford to install.

        • We haven't measured the effect of ad-blocking yet on our site, but it may not be as simple. If ad-blocking is turned on by default or by almost default (e.g. a "security" software asks the user if he doesn't want to see ads during setup) then ad-blocking can indeed cause problems. For example we knew about a custom made software designed specifically for our site (because the usual ad-blockers don't work here) spreading in our user community. Btw. paying subscribers don't get ads, and it is very cheap, but
        • From the consumer point of view, they're not blocking specific types of ads, they're blocking ALL adds (or at least as many as they can) -- thats their goal, and adblock and the like are pretty good at it.

          For me the ads simply got in the way. It was like opening a newspaper, starting to read the news and the guy next to me slapped a flyer right into the newspaper over what I was trying to read and then held it there and wouldn't let me move it out of the way. If dead tree advertising intruded like on-line
    • by empaler ( 130732 )
      AdWords is a great example. I set up ads for people all the time there and most of them are happy as little school girls.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I just have a really large host file. That has the benefit of stripping out the trackers and counters aswell.

      I do get the occasional ad which is served from the server I'm looking at, but I don't mind that as much since these are generally less obtrusive/objectionable
    • Our business wouldn't be dumb enough to base its revenue stream on whether consumers who might not want to see our ads could block them.
  • by chriss ( 26574 ) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @05:48PM (#16237601) Homepage

    I run a small (~500,000 PV/month) website with a free language trainer. The business model (which does not work) is based on ads, so I was concerned if people would filter out the ads. All of the pages on the site show either google ads or a single standard size non-flash banner, which is trivial to filter out. Some of the banners are in iframes and come from other sites, some come from our server. And as far as I can tell from the logs, the number of pageviews roughly equals the number of banner views. Now maybe all our users use ad blockers that actually load the banner, but do not display it, but I doubt it. Most of the users are from German speaking countries, so there may be a cultural difference, but I don't see any different behavior from the English speaking users either.

    So I assume that most users are like me: I block pop-ups, because they annoy the hell out of me. If a site uses flash to aggressively, I turn on the flash blocker, but usually I do not because it is to often required for display or navigation and I'm to lazy to switch it on on demand. I don't mind most of the ads, since I realize they finance the content I'm watching.

    Here at slashdot it always seems like almost everybody is blocking ads, but I think that the slashdot crowd is very untypical, ad blocking (apart from pop up blocking, which all browsers support directly) is not a mainstream thing.

    • I would concur. The "I demand something for nothing crowd" is a very small percentage of the internet surfing population. Besides, what good would it do to show an ad to a cynic?
    • And spam blockers were nice once upon a time because nobody blocked spam. Once spam-filtering was able to be deployed at the mail server level, spammers had to ratchet up the creativity.

      If ad blocking is ever "turned on" by default, I predict this balance would change dramatically. Advertisers would go out of their way to discover new ways to slide ads onto pages. I was actually surprised to see Firefox ship with a popup blocker that was enabled by default. I was not surprised to see Microsoft ship IE

      • by chriss ( 26574 ) *

        The difference between spam and ads is the amount I can throw at you. I can send you 10,000 spam mails each day, but I cannot put 10,000 ads on a webpage. So there is a natural limit, preventing ads from becoming as large a problem as spam. Also there is more diversity between sites, if a site shows too many ads, I can simply go somewhere else. In theory I could simply change my email address, but this is very inconvenient, therefore I cannot avoid the spam without a spam filter, but the ads without an ad b

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by coyotecult ( 647958 )

          There are still concerns and problems with ads on webpages.

          They're vectors for adware and spyware exploiting vulnerabilities to install themselves, and it can happen even if the owners of a website are pretty diligent in trying to screen the ads for security. (Example [slashdot.org].)

          Too many rich media ads, or badly coded ones, on a webpage can use up way too much CPU power and affect the computer's performance.

          In places where ISPs often have monthly bandwidth caps (I hear Australian surfers talk about those, for

        • I can send you 10,000 spam mails each day, but I cannot put 10,000 ads on a webpage.

          Quite a few webpages are so full of ads that they drown each other out, becoming nothing but incomprehensible mass of color and motion. 100 or 10,000, who can tell the difference ? 10,000 blinking ads in a webpage could propably even pass for modern art, especially if the HTML is shitty enough that they partially or completely overlay one another and/or the actual text of the page...

      • by Scaba ( 183684 )

        I doubt ad blocking will ever be included and/or turned on by default, at least the type of ad blocking that Privoxy or Adblock/Adblock Plus do. (Opera and Firefox (and others) have "block images from here" capabilities, but they are rather simplistic and come with empty lists by default.) Advertising is legal and seen as a legitimate and accepted way of paying for "free" content, whereas spam is seen as invasive and offensive, and is currently illegal in most civilized places. Popups are a gray area, as

      • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )

        I was actually surprised to see Firefox ship with a popup blocker that was enabled by default.

        Taking this from another perspective, allowing popups without question is a bug instead of a feature. As an example, open a webpage that recursivly opens popups - with Netscape 4.7. Best case scenario is that you have to take out a browser session (end task or kill -9) - worst case is Windows 95/98/ME running out of handles, taking out the system.

        This can occurr because of bad programming, or over-zealous advert

    • I don't mind most of the ads, since I realize they finance the content I'm watching.

      Ad's cost, they pay for nothing.

      Ad's just mean you're paying twice over, once in time/attention to watch/avoid the ad and twice in the increased price of the product to pay for the ad.

      Personally, if I had my way I'd make it illegal, or at least tax, any advertising "supported" service that didn't offer a realistic pay alternative, signalling the cost of the service to the market rather than hiding it.


      The maj

    • Smart of you to use non-Flash ads. For one thing, I agree that they're more likely to be annoying and therefore blocked. For another thing, you can't right-click on them. If I see an ad for something that interests me, I right-click and open it in a new tab (or, if I'm stuck using IE for whatever reason, a new window) so I can go and check out the page the ad linked to without leaving the page I'm currently on.
  • forced ad serves? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fred fleenblat ( 463628 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @05:53PM (#16237679) Homepage
    Hate to put ideas in their heads but if companies really cared about making sure their ads are seen, I'm sure there is a way on the backend to check that a browser at least requests the ad from the server before delivering the content part of the page. I don't mean interstitials, I mean as the page is loading, the server checks that you've requested banner.gif before it gives you all the paragraphs in the article.

    With css or javascript/DOM you can even position the text/ads however you like regardsless of the order they are downloaded.

    Obviously, one could write a browser plug-in that faked a banner ad request, but you've at least taken away the download-speedup incentive part of the motivation for ad-blocking.
    • Practically, I doubt that would work.
      Most people who block ads already would still block those ones and feel somewhat irritated at the bandwidth waste, or they would just stop visiting the site.
      Even if you could force those people to view ads, there'd be little marketing value thanks to the bad juju generated by doing so.
      • Obviously you have not played on the game sites like http://www.pogo.com/ [pogo.com]. Personaly I think they are a waste of time,, but I know a lot of people (my wife included) love the "free" online games. If you haven't seen the site, you are forced to sit through a 30 second display of an ad every game, or several games you play.
        • Interesting, I was not aware of that. But does your wife block ads?

          I block pretty much everything except google text ads, I do play the occasional online flash game, and I would not use pogo.com now that I know about their ad scheme. There are too many other places to get online games.

          My theory is that most adblockers encountering pogo.com will either play anyway, but be annoyed and unlikely to be very receptive to advertising; or go play elsewhere.
          Also, specifically trying to break ad-block software with s
          • My wife uses the browser capabilities to block popups, but not ads. I haven't even convinced her that Firefox is the appropriate "upgrade" for netscape. She thinks that Firefox is a Linux only app. She still perfers IE. I muck about with her computer on a regular basis to keep things under controll.
    • by Drachemorder ( 549870 ) <brandon@cCOMMAhr ... .org minus punct> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @06:28PM (#16238125) Homepage
      Yeah, I've seen pages that say "You're blocking our ads. You have to load them before we'll let you see the page."

      Needless to say, I left pretty quickly. Forcing me to view ads is only going to make me not want to buy the advertised products even more than I already don't want to.

      • Web sites like those - "you must see our ads before you can see our content" for me are in the same category as sites who want to set "immortal cookies" *cough*google*cough* - I block 'em or boycott 'em. Adblock, filterset.g, and "only allow session cookies" make web browsing much more pleasant :)
    • Obviously, one could write a browser plug-in that faked a banner ad request

      AdBlock (and derivatives) already has such functionality built-in. In the preferences, you can check a box that tells it to just hide the ads (in which case, they are still downloaded, just not rendered).


    • You could set up a server that way, but it wouldn't work in browsers that expect to receive and parse the entire page before requesting any child content. Your server would go "I'm not sending you the rest of the page until you request some of the IMG links." and the browser would be going "I can't request anything from the page until I've parsed the entire page to know what's in it.".

      • My befuddlement isn't the specifics of how to do this, merely that advertisers haven't done much of anything in this area yet.

        But your deadlock scenario is easy to deal with. After 5 seconds just let them have the rest of the html page.

        Also it doesn't have to be enforced page by page...if they wander about the web site and never load any ads you can give them an interstitial or some text ads instead, or go ahead or start denying content after N ad-blocked pages. Maybe check that it's not a spider first!
        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
          Then the blockers will dl the images then block it. Worst of all options to the site owner- costs him bandwidth, and if he's pair by click through he gets no chance of one.
  • by kaizokunami ( 982824 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @06:07PM (#16237865) Homepage
    I think most people who are savvy enough to block ads would not click an ad banner anyway. Today we have to worry about fake websites phishing for our account information, so if I'm interested enough in your product, I'm going to go to Google, do some research, and make sure I'm going directly to your website rather than click an ad.
  • I don't advertise other products. I want my own to be sold damnit, and thanks to creative word phrasing for search engines I can practically advertise cost-free!
    • and thanks to creative word phrasing for search engines I can practically advertise cost-free!
      Oh, so you're the guy selling the aardvark aardvarks aardwolf ab abaci aback abacus abacuses abaft abalone abalones abandon abandoned abandonedly abandonee abandoner...
  • Stupid Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hans Lehmann ( 571625 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @06:46PM (#16238389)
    It's like asking how your business is affected by all the people the don't buy the newspapers in which you've placed an ad. "My business is plummeting, and it's all the fault of those people that don't want to buy my product!"
  • by Mistshadow2k4 ( 748958 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @06:47PM (#16238405) Journal
    Most Slashdotters are knowledgable enough to use ad-blockers with a browser like Firefox. Have you heard anything about CowboyNeal going broke?
  • I can certainly get a lot more "business" done with Firefox, thanks to Adblock [mozilla.org].
  • by alexgieg ( 948359 ) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @07:32PM (#16238937) Homepage
    It's relatively easy to work around ad-blocking plugins: simply make your ads be static images, never in flash or animated gifs, with slightly variable height and width, random names, in random paths, loading from the same server the main page is served, and from the exact same directory, never surrounding it by any specially-named frame, and never putting it into the exact same place inside a page. Doing these things would pretty much defeat Firefox's AdBlock addon as well as any size-based ad-blocker. They'll also work agains most, if not all, bayesian ad-blockers (if they exist, I'm not sure they do) if you don't forget to follow the exact same rules for all non-ad images in your web site.

    If major ad-filled sites aren't following these trivial tricks, I'm pretty sure they don't see adblocking as a big problem. They probably think those 1% or 2% of geek visitors who block ads aren't statistically significant.

    But if most people started using ad-blocked, be sure the above tricks would start being applied in a lot of places. And as a result ad-blocking development would become a field of research as much complicated, if not more, than spam blocking. It would reach a point where you would have to train a lot a filter for working in a given site, and deal with false positives and negative for a good amount of time, until that site you want ad-free was working as expected.
    • Actually, blocking would still be fairly easy. The standard banner ad and tower ad dimensions aren't even close to useful image sizes for anything else, so if you block everything with dimensions +/- 20 pixels of the standard sizes, the vast majority of what you'll hit are ads. Because of content layout restrictions, it would be very hard for advertisers to go outside those bounds without breaking most of the sites they show ads on.
      • Make every page a Flash page with the ad built right into the flash page.

        If you can make a dynamic content Flash page, there'd be no escaping it.

        Also, cut&paste is impossible, too.
        • I'm not pro-ad, but I figure that more hackers will see this and start work on a pre-emptive solution to this potential problem.
          • by mgblst ( 80109 )
            How would you seperate the content from the add, without AI? Very, very hard. It would be ever more difficult than having the browser look at a bunch of pictures, and decide which one is an add, and which one is part of the content.
        • Make every page a Flash page with the ad built right into the flash page.

          Lots of sites do just that, and they don't get a return visit from me. That's what Flashblock is for, since any page coded entirely in Flash usually doesn't have content worth looking at anyway.
      • An ad placed in a random place inside an arbitrarily-sized transparent PNG, which in turn would be CSS-positioned (embedded unnamed CSS via the "style=" element, mind you) for the visible image to appear where it should, would avoid this.

        Another solution would be to slice the ad, as well as all other images in the site, into small pieces with arbitrary sizes, and aggregate them into something visible with CSS. It would be a nightmare to figure out which of those dozens or hundreds of GIFs, JPGs and PNGs are
    • by rts008 ( 812749 )
      Yes, but then us mice just learn how to steal the bait from the new trap, then you build a better mouse trap, ...lather, rinse, repeat.

      A significant portion of the web population feels the ads have become too much of a hassle (intrusive, gawdy,malware exploits, etc.), otherwise ad blockers would not be deemed a worthy subject to be newsworthy.

      Firefox, NoScript, Adblock (or Adblock+) with filterset, and flashblock (mainly Windows) are your friends on the internet, er...I mean tubes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pimpimpim ( 811140 )
      Your point is already proven by the stress that a lot of advertizing people put on disabling ad-skipping on digitally recorded TV (tivo and the likes). In those cases, a majority of people are inclined to use this technology, and advertizers start worrying.

      That said, a lot of ads on the internet are pretty respectable now, except for the flash popups that fill your whole screen, but luckily they are pretty rare. Compared to TV ads, it's a heaven on the internet. I stopped watching the blockbuster movies o

    • by jthill ( 303417 )
      Most people won't start using adblockers until the ad-mongers start shoving ads in people's faces and blaming them for not liking it. I don't block Google's ads because they're there if I want them and they're sometimes interesting. I block everything else because too many treat me like prey. They receive the same respect in return.
  • For me not getting annoying popups actually increases the chances that I purchase a product. I will generally go out of my way to find a non annoying competitor when im shopping.
  • Why do people feel it should be against the law to make a living. Could Slashdot exist without the ad's? No it couldn't. By blocking ads you are making it harder for people to make a living doing something they have worked hard at.
    • These people can live on welfare for all I care, if the requirement for them to make a living is to allow companies like Doubleclick et al to track my movements across the internet.
    • By blocking ads you are making it harder for people to make a living doing something they have worked hard at.

      Working hard at pissing me off does not entitle you to either my attention or money.
    • It's perfectly legal for people to attempt to make a living. It's also perfectly legal for me to instruct my browser not to load certain images and flash animations that bother me.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by AIXadmin ( 10544 )
        Then it should be perfectley legal to find ways for the webmaster to forbid you from visiting a site. His site, his service. Not yours.
    • by jeff67 ( 318942 )
      What about the telemarketers? How can we expect them to make a living now that there's a "do not call" list? Cry me a river.

      Anyhow, it's time we questioned at the "give it away free and make money on the ads" business model. People are waking the hell up and realizing how annoying it is. I gave up TV in large part because I hate ads more than I like the programs available. I could get a PVR, but even that's becoming an arms race between those who don't want to see the ads and the advertisers anyway. Same th
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by AIXadmin ( 10544 )
        You aren't using their service. You aren't using their bandwidth. You aren't using their capactiy. You aren't cheating them of anything. Ad blockers are cheating the owner of a web site.
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:00AM (#16242217)
    To my mind, if someone has gone to the trouble to block adverts (and trouble it is - no browser does so by default), it implies that they have no interest whatsoever in them.

    It therefore follows that they probably have even less interest in buying a specific product on the strength of its advert. So what's the point in even chasing such people?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tehshen ( 794722 )

      To my mind, if someone has gone to the trouble to block adverts (and trouble it is - no browser does so by default), it implies that they have no interest whatsoever in them.

      No, not always.

      I don't mind ads that much. Even if they're stupid, flashy, click here now, I can still sweep them to the side and ignore them, and just read the page I went to. Example: this dictionary site [reference.com] has a few banners, but the list of meanings for "spoon" is still right in front of me to read.

      What irks me and makes me go somewher

    • The reason that I block them is not that I object to ads, per se. The reason that I block them is that, as of a few years ago, advertisers did their best to make them as irritating as humanly possible. I mean, do you really think your ads that are flashing enough to give Japanese kids seizures make me want to buy your product?

      Ads now take up so much screen real estate and are meant to annoy users by blinking and being animated, etc. Eventually, I just decided that ads irritated me to the point of install

    • See, what many people are going to the trouble of setting up adblock for is it to block the ads that annoy them. Just like commercials, some ads can be useful, or at least amusing (heck, I tend to dislike most commercials, but I *collect* the funny ones)

      For most like myself, we don't want to see "punch the money and win a **free Xbox-360 (**after subscribing to our paid services)" or ads for feminine hygeine products (when one is male) etc.

      Same to spam. I subscribe to a few tech sites, because I want th
    • by ajs318 ( 655362 )

      To my mind, if someone has gone to the trouble to block adverts (and trouble it is - no browser does so by default)

      I'm sure there is at least one Linux distribution which supplies ad-blocking extensions to Konqueror and/or Firefox, enabled by default.

      If/when I ever get my own distro together, I know I will be doing so. (My solution will be a simple HTTP proxy server; which will also intercept requests to download certain popular closed source software and display a notice to the effect that an "i-tal" al

  • Sorry to threadjack, but obviously everyone is saying that eyeballs lost to blockers is no loss since they weren't going to be buyers anyway (usually).

    Corollary to that are the "legal" but borderline abusive telemarketing practices like many sales-shrouded-as-surveys, political, tenuous "existing relationships", etc. Speaking USian here, if I'm on the national DNC list, and you think you can cold call me anyways because the law says you can, you're gonna get a *&^*&^% earful from me before I slam t

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