My big scary noisy Adblock rant (plus a plea for sanity)

Adblock does perform some useful functions for a lot of web surfers. This I know to be true.
Adblock also does a lot to genuinely harm a lot of content creators. This I also know to be true. It’s that gap in the middle that I struggle with.
“I don’t want those ads — they’re annoying!”

“Try installing adblock plus as an extension to your browser – that should stop you seeing most of them.”

That’s a paraphrase of a conversation I was part of the other day, and it’s one that’s increasingly common. Adblock is used by a huge number of people browsing the web these days, most commonly with a set series of ad parameters in place that, in theory, make ad browsing more smooth and pleasant for the end user.
I understand that perspective, because I’ve been there myself. Those web sites with autoplay videos, or gigantic flashing overlay banners, or pop-ups, or pop-unders, or a random combination of 73 different flavours of all of the above obscuring the content you’re actually after. The balance of advertising is a tricky matter indeed, and I’ve given up on more than a few sites over the last two decades simply due to the use of excessive advertising tactics.
At the same time, though, Adblock hits the hip pocket of any media site that relies on advertising, which is to say most of them.
Including this one.
Google’s ads aren’t part of Fat Duck Tech’s long term strategy, but they’re present right now as at least a minor income source.
Fat Duck Tech has been something of a labour of love for me; it certainly (to date) hasn’t been a massive money spinner. If I’d invested the same time into freelance writing for regular outlets that’s gone into The Duck, I would have made far more than I have to date, although I wouldn’t then own the copy that I wrote. That’s the nature of the deal, and I accept that.
Six months in (time flies by fast online), and sadly for my own prospects, a few promising revenue avenues have evaporated on me, which is a major pain. I enjoy being my own boss, and the content side feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, but at the same time this does kind of have to help to pay for me to eat every once in a while.
As a side note, if you’re interested in sponsoring an ad spot on Fat Duck Tech, or indeed the newsletters, sponsored posts or the like, drop me a line.
Google Ads don’t pay much (this isn’t news to anyone) but they’re at least a minor trickle of income, compared to flat out nothing. If you’re viewing this on a browser with Adblock installed, that’s all that I’ll get.
I did briefly tinker with Adblock-blocking extensions that variously either block the site or put up a request to not use it on Fat Duck Tech, but the former prospect I find difficult to reconcile, because a new visitor might not know if there was content useful to them or not, and the latter I found near impossible to implement in a way that worked. Ultimately, that’s a route I’d rather not go down at all, because it then becomes an ad-adblock-ad-adblock arms race. Who has time for that?
Still, if it’s not feasible to make money for long enough, it stops being viable to provide content, and while there are fair and reasonable arguments around being “entitled” to income (I don’t feel that way), at the same time (and I’ve argued this previously) you get what you pay for, and when you pay absolutely nothing…

3 thoughts on “My big scary noisy Adblock rant (plus a plea for sanity)”

  1. Jonathan Maddox

    I resisted for YEARS, tolerated the popunders and popovers (but never clicked them), actually engaged with the modest banner ads sometimes. It was the autoplay videos that clinched it for me. I’m working in fits and starts, I middle-click through a bit of news in an idle moment, and suddenly (sometimes minutes later) my machine is speaking in that excruciating E! TV voice about something with no relevance whatsoever to anything I’ve clicked on, and I have no idea which of my hundred browser tabs is responsible. That’s even without the bandwidth-guzzling considerations, which are less relevant now than ever, but still occasionally meaningful such as when I’m on the train (I spend many hours working on the train), or even on the best links when latency for a remote console on the other side of the world is crucial.
    For what it’s worth, I have disabled adblock for Fat Duck and click through whenever I think of it. But that’s just me.

  2. I should make it clear — I have ZERO interest in autoplay video, and agree that’s it’s a terrible thing. By all means, enable people to watch video when and if they want to — and it can add a lot to a story — but don’t force it on them. That’s just bad marketing.

  3. This is exactly why I have completely removed Adblock from all of my browsers. I know that a lot of content creators are trying to use the internet to make a living, and if I’m getting all of this content for pretty much free, the least I can do is watch or look at an ad to help out the person giving me free content.
    That said, I’ve been actively looking for an AdBlocker that I can just use with a Blacklist rather than a whitelist. I don’t want all the gross ads on dodgy websites, but I don’t want to block out ads entirely.

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