Sorry to be a pain in the ads...

Sorry to be a pain in the ads…

webuser-adblocker

I present 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 new issue of WebUser magazine (out last Thursday) 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, FreePostcodeLottery.com 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 FreePostcodeLottery.com 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 FreePostcodeLottery.com 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 http://freepostcodelottery.com to the whitelist (websites allowed to show ads). Here are instructions for Ad Blocker Plus (this is the most widely used ad-blocker).

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”: www.google.com/ads/preferences

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.

Thanks!

Chris :-)

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  1. Avril says:

    I use adblocker everywhere except here. It’s very easy to disable adblocker for this one site.
    It’s not as if the ads on here are really a nuisance.
    Come on folks, do it. Consider it an investment! :-)

  2. Debby says:

    I have been a member of FPL for years now and never had a problem with the ads – they are unobtrusive, optional, not disguised as other things and bring in good revenue for the FPL. We are all happy with the idea of winning free money and as there are many benefits to FPL, such as easy registration, no obligations, no spam e-mails and the security of knowing our few details are safe and not sold on, I don’t think the odd little ad should be a problem for users. By nature I am a suspicious and cynical person, but do trust FPL and site owner Chris, who I have always found polite & helpful when I have had queries etc. I would only ever a click an ad/link if I was interested in it, so trust FPL to make sure ads are viewable but optional to click.

  3. del says:

    i knew what i was agreeing to when i signed up there are no popups which is what agrivates me most, so i just switch of when i visit the site, and feel this is what everyone should realise they dont have to use the site it still is money for old rope as they used to say and a bit of fun…… :)

  4. nikkikayj says:

    Ads can be useful too, today for me its showing a banner for the argos clearance which reminded me that i was browsing there last night when i fell asleep at the laptop lol. So I clicked through the link and reserved what i was looking for last night. That ones a win win situation for us – ad revenue for you, kids birthday present reserved for me haha

  5. tiggy tiger says:

    I thought if you searched for something on the internet (lets say top soil) then adverrts would automatically be around the subject you searched? I’ve been hunting for cheap top soil, and through an add on here I found it (thanks btw, it saved ne £50!)

    Quite amazed that simple ads seem to be such an issue to some people! Its not like you HAVE to click on them, but you may be pleasently suprised if you do! And at least the ads are not filthy ones :-)

  6. sarah says:

    hi, I didnt even realise there were ad blockers, I dont mind the ads(love them on the tv too) at all so wont be using one, however the http://www.google.com/ads/preferences part of your article interested me so i thought id have a peek to see what they knew about me……….im horrified that according to them the sort of websites i visit puts me in an age bracket of 45-54 im going to start looking at younger pages im not even quite 40 yet :-)
    great website chris im sure looking at yours daily hasn’t aged me!!!!!!!

  7. Gemma says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for reminding me – I have now whitelisted this page on my adblocker :) Now I feel bad for blocking elsewhere since a lot of blogs rely on ad revenue…

  8. Charlotte says:

    I don’t mind the ads at all! As you say, they are completely unobtrusive and you are not forcing anyone to click on them. This is a great website (I check every day) and I understand that you need ads to be able to fund it! Shame not everyone does….
    Anyway, keep up the good work Chris, I think you’re doing a brilliant job!

  9. Colin says:

    Hi Chris,

    I assume you have no control over the ads selected for this page? For a good week now there has been an ad for an extremely dodgy piece of software masquerading as a malware removal tool. It is entirely to avoid dangerous misclicks on adverts of this type that I have an Ad blocker in place.

    Of course I have FPL whitelisted, but it would be nice to feel “safer” around here…

    Cheers, Colin

    • Chris says:

      Hi Colin. Are you sure it’s dodgy? The ads are provided by Google who are quite strict. Can you remember the name of the software?

      • Colin says:

        Hi Chris,

        Sparktrust is the name. Very bad reviews and notoriously difficult to get rid of itself without actually paying for the full version. Definitely a market leader in bad anti-malware software.

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