Should Online Publishers Block Users Who Install Ad-Blockers?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is a trade group for, well, interactive advertising. That’s to say clickable online banner and video ads. If you’re one of the smarmy people piping up right now to say, “there are ads on the Internet? I wouldn’t know, I use ad-blockers,” you’re part of the problem as far as the IAB is concerned.

Last year, we wondered whether allowing certain non-intrusive advertisements through their filters for a fee makes the company behind the popular browser plugin AdBlock Plus heroes or shakedown artists. You can guess what the position of IAB staff members on that question is. In an interview with CNet, the group’s general counsel and executive vice president for public policy explained why he thinks that online publishers need to block the blockers.

That means exactly what you think it does: sites refusing to let you see their content unless you also see their ads. A switch to paywalls or other ways of paying for content simply hasn’t happened, and it probably won’t. “[Y]ou’re not going to see a mass migration off ad-supported content, the economic engine that drives the Internet,” Zaneis notes. Paywalls are effective for some content, but banner ads are still the default model for paying the bills. (Our parent company, Consumer Reports, is a subscriber-supported exception: we have no ads, and neither do they.)

Destructoid, a gaming site with a large proportion of users who block ads, is famous for nagging readers to turn off their adblockers and explaining why in some detail. Zaneis says that the site experimented with the block-the-blockers approach, but ultimately abandoned it in order to avoid alienating a huge number of users.

Ad blockers get ad-group exec’s blood boiling (Q&A) [CNET]

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  1. Alecto67 says:

    I ran into this the other night – CBS.com won’t let you watch episodes unless you disable AdBlock.

  2. arbyrb says:

    It was the intrusive video ads on ustream that forced my hand, and I felt guilty about it for a while, since I liked that particular site and would have liked to help them out. But I got over the guilt. If it were just banner ads, I could tolerate that, and did for many years. If I get blocked for blocking, I just won’t go to that site.

    • LauraNorthrup says:

      I swore off adblockers when I went to work for a newspaper years ago, just on principle. After I no longer worked there, it was an auto-play video ad ON AN ARTICLE on the same paper’s site that made me snap and re-install various ad blockers.

  3. Choileh says:

    I don’t have a problem with ads as a concept, but I use a blocker because there are so many ads that are unsafe, not to mention annoying autoplaying videos and sound, which always come on full blast. Some ads really slow my whole system down too. Lastly, as a straight woman, I also don’t really need to find hot, young, sexy, single ladies in my area.

    So if sites want to use safe, quiet, low-bandwith-usage, TV-G ads? I could live with that, but no one does those.

    • MathManv2point0 says:

      Do you have another user on the computer who might be interested in those things? Sometimes those banner adds come up based on your cookies so I wonder what other users of your computer might be searching….

      • Choileh says:

        It’s just me. Maybe my cookies from going to Cracked and Cheezburger get me the ads. Most likely it’s they just don’t care. I mean, my email account gets plenty of penis enlargement emails too.

  4. Ryfter says:

    I’d say that if someone is blocking the revenue stream, with an ad blocker, they are not a customer. Customer’s tend to give back some how, for the service or product you offer. Not sure that alienating non-paying (i.e. freeloading) customers is a bad thing.

  5. SingleMaltGeek says:

    I used to run AdBlock on every site, but the last year or two I’ve started to whitelist sites that I trust, like Consumerist, while also having to create a lot more exceptions for those stupid slide-out pop-over ads that so many publishers seem to think are a replacement for a static “Also of Interest” or “Related Content” block at the END of a page.

    But any site that has animated or scrolling ads shouldn’t complain about users blocking their ads.

    • LauraNorthrup says:

      While we appreciate the vote of confidence and trust, Consumerist hasn’t had ads since December 31, 2008.

      • SingleMaltGeek says:

        RIght, I should have been more specific. It was on everywhere by default, but only relatively recently did I bother to start to whitelist sites that have no ads or small, static ads.

      • RupturedDuck says:

        If I didn’t disable my adblocker I would be unable to post here. You must be using similar ad-creating code for your Reader Comments.

    • MathManv2point0 says:

      Oh man, I REALLY dislike the slideout popover adds… I’m looking at you Yahoo….

  6. BikerGeek79 says:

    If the ads were
    • Tasteful
    • Reasonably unobtrusive
    • Not clickbait (use this one weird trick…)
    • Appropriate for the audience/demographic of the site
    • Well-regulated and curated
    • Not processor/bandwidth/resource hogs
    I wouldn’t really mind seeing them.

    However, increasingly, ads are none of those things. So, I block them.

  7. MarthaGaill says:

    I run AdBlock all the time. If I find a site that I start to frequent, I usually whitelist them. The instant I get an obtrusive ad… blocked. Sorry, content makers, but if you can’t keep flashing, auto-playing videos, or sound making ads out of your websites, I’m going to block them. While it might garner clicks from other people, those tactics defintiely don’t work on me. Just because something is neon and moving does not mean I’m going to click it.

  8. Thorzdad2 says:

    I’m an AdBlock user and have occasionally run-into sites that refuse to work until I disable it. I don’t mind the static side-column ads or the occasional banner ads, but the slide-outs, the monster drop-downs, the auto-play video ads, etc. are deal-breakers for me. There’s a reason consumers tune-out ads in the first place, and making them bigger and more annoying is only going to backfire.

  9. Snarkapus says:

    What gets my goat is sites who make no distinction between paying users and non-paying users (here’s looking at you, Washington Post) when it comes to serving up more ads and trackers than content.

    I couldn’t use the interwebz without ad-block, Ghostery and a Javascript blocker.