Sorry to be a pain in the ads…
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.