Repost: Sorry to be a pain in the ads…


Back in June 2014 I presented the case for protecting ad-funded websites like FPL from users who choose to block adverts in the latest issue of WebUser Magazine.

I’ve mentioned the amount of grief I get from those who don’t understand how a website can give away money for free so assume it’s a con, but there are also those who don’t understand that a free website needs the advertising revenue in order to survive and continue to be free.

The headline on the front cover of the issue of WebUser magazine reads “Block every web advert”. Whilst the headline made me gasp, the article is clear that users shouldn’t block ads on websites that rely on them for their existence and do not use overly obtrusive adverts (like popups). This is why they invited me to contribute my thoughts on why you should not block every web advert:

I understand that ad-blockers are necessary to guard against some websites’ overly obtrusive adverts and invasive practices. However, and many other well-behaved, user-centered websites rely entirely on the revenue that they bring in to pay for what we do, including, in my case, the daily prize money.

Whenever I’m presented with a new way of monetising my site I have to make a calculation. Will the pain that it causes the users outweigh the added benefit? Getting this wrong is like give them an electric shock whilst exposing them to your brand. Not good. The approach on is to display adverts on the page but not to send unwanted emails, or to collect and sell user data, and most importantly, to stay free.

If my website’s users block adverts they are cutting off my revenue source and, effectively, stealing from myself and the other users of the website. So, I ask users of to add us to their ad-blocker’s white-list. I had actually set up an alert on the site to detect ad-blocking and remind the user to do this but it resulted in my inbox being flooded with questions about how access various ad-blockers’ settings.

Are you “stealing” from FPL & other FPL users?

Ok, it’s a dramatic way of saying that you’re not being fair, but when you think about it, you are taking something for nothing. So, as I mention in the article, if you are using an Ad-blocker please add to the whitelist (websites allowed to show ads). Here are instructions for Ad Blocker Plus (this is the most widely used ad-blocker). EDIT: Thanks to Glen for providing updated Firefox instructions

If you are still not seeing Ads it may be that you are using DoNotTrackMe. This is also a browser extension that stops websites tracking your activity so that they can build up data profiles about you. It is perfectly understandable to takes steps to prevent this, however, this also stops the ads appearing on FPL because they are fed in by Google. The ads are only ‘tracking’ you in as far as trying to deliver relevant ads based on what Google does or doesn’t know about you. Whilst I recommend to remain vigilant on unknown websites you can safely whitelist FPL by clicking on the DoNotTrackMe icon (top right in Firefox and Chrome at least) and clicking the switch labelled “Do not track my browsing here” so it changes from a tick to a cross.

Whilst I say that Google is only trying to target relevant ads at you, you may be concerned about what they know. Handily, the WebUser article also points out a page on Google that allows you to see exactly what they know, and even turn off their “tracking”:

I hope you’ve found this useful. Big thanks to the team at WebUser magazine for supporting FPL and giving me a chance to contribute to the debate. As a web developer I had initially turned my nose up at non-technical web magazine but I’ve become quite a fan since I’ve started reading it. Plenty of useful tips and tricks for the tech-newbies and hardcore alike!

Please get in touch if you need help or have any concerns. As always, comments welcome below.


Chris :-)

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  • Glen

    Glad to help you, Chris – you do all the giving, it’s good to be able to help YOU for a change :)

  • Chris

    Thanks Glen! :-)

  • Glen

    In answer to Anne’s query on the 11th August about not being able to whitelist the site using Firefox. I also struggled to find this by using the instructions – I finally managed to do it this way:
    If you have Adblock Plus you will see a red ABP icon at the top, right hand side of your computer.
    Click on the small black triangle to the right of the ABP icon.
    It will drop down to show a list of options.
    Click on the disable on
    It should now have a tick to the left of it.
    The ABP icon should now have turned grey in colour.
    The freepostcodelottery website should now be able to show adverts – which will help Chris continue this brilliant website.
    (Sorry it took me so long to figure this out, Chris)
    All other websites will continue to block adverts as before (you will be able to check this by looking at the ABP icon to see if it is still red on the other sites.
    Hope this helps other people struggling with this.
    Perhaps you can update your instructions if this works okay for others, Chris?

  • Anne

    There does not seem to be the option to whitelist the site under the Firefox DoNotTrackMe settings now, Chris. I’ve just been and looked up the Mozilla help page and this is what it says about adverts and DoNotTrackMe:
    “Does Do Not Track block ads?
    No, you will still see ads with Do Not Track enabled. However, Do Not Track may change the type of ads you see. For example, behavioural ads are targeted to your interests based on the web sites you visit and the search terms you use. If you request that web sites Do Not Track you, and the sites respect your privacy preferences, you will see more generic ads in place of behavioral ads.”
    I’ve tried this with DoNotTrackMe enabled and the ads are in fact blocked. Likewise I cannot find the option to whitelist under the tracking options in Chrome. Neither browser has the DoNotTrackMe icon that you mentioned above. Is this due to an update in the browsers or am I looking for the button in the wrong place? I’ve been through every setting I can find in both browsers… help!

  • Thunder

    Hi Chris, just an update, everything seems to be working a lot faster today! Must’ve been a blip on my end 😉

    Your site is now whitelisted, yey! 😀

  • Ruth

    It’s the images that cause the problems I’m afraid. Since the advent of high speed broadband in towns and cities many sites have become unbelievably slow for us country cousins without the help of an ad blocker. And don’t start me on video content…

  • Wendy

    The ads here aren’t in your face anyway unlike some sites, I’ve been here just short of 3 months and don’t even notice them now, in fact I had to go and check they were still there lol, keep up the good work chris :)

  • Helen Waring

    Thanks for being so open and clear about this Chris. I totally understand that the prize offered to me and other users is funded by advertising revenue. I also understand that some users still cannot cope with the adverts and there is a very simple solution-don’t use the site. Whatever your reasoning is, this site is funded by the adverts and if you as a user can’t work with this then the site is it for you.