There’s a lot of passionate conversation about Adblocking as its use becomes more mainstream and far more prolific than even a few years ago. This has ranged from reasonable, nuanced discussion to blatant and increasingly tiresome hyperbole about how Adblock is literally stealing. The discussion of why adblocking does not equate to theft is an issue that’s been raised by other, more qualified people but assuming adblock users “just all want free content” is missing the forest for the trees.
The truth is that there are many valid reasons for Adblocking. Ads can ruin browsing, or cause videos to crash, or prolong load times if you’re using an old computer. One of the reasons that gets discussed even more infrequently is the concept of objectionable content. This tends to get brushed off as a minor issue, but what if you have young kids using a computer? Ken Norton of Google Ventures actually tweeted something that contextualized this perfectly.
Watching Master Chef Jr. with my kid on @hulu and get ads for violent shows, Nicorette, and some other show about sex. Cool targeting bro.
— Ken Norton (@kennethn) December 15, 2015
Can you really blame someone for using Adblock if they’re in a situation like this? Or could you accuse of them wanting to see content for free? Hulu blocks adblocking software but stories like this reflect the larger problem of people not liking the way advertising is delivered to them.
Stories like this seem to indicate that people would be fine with a certain level of advertising if it was delivered to them in a less intrusive way, or one that doesn’t make watching TV shows with your kids uncomfortable. Or one that makes you worried about leaving your kids alone to use the computer lest they discover a site has “mature” banner ads.
What’s more, for all the talk of how people on the Internet are leeches who want everything free all the time forever, there’s plenty of evidence that people will gladly support things they believe in. That’s why Kickstarter and Patreon exist in the first place.
Ad industry, your customers are trying to communicate something to you. You may not like the way it’s being communicated and it may mean bad news for your bottom line but that’s how business works. There’s no going back, and holding your content hostage behind paywalls will, at best, annoy people. At worst they’ll just leave entirely. So think about how you can serve the customer first. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?