Adblock Plus and (a little) more

Profitability is not a right, it has to be earned · 2007-09-06 22:18 by Wladimir Palant

The first project I wanted to make money from became a failure. Yes, I got some customers, even one large company, but in the end what I earned wasn’t comparable to the effort I put into it. Who’s fault was it? Mine of course. I knew too little about how to get users interested and to sell my product, and, frankly, I didn’t even want to learn more — creating a good product was more important to me. Did I blame my customers for my failure, did I say that they should have been more interested, should have paid more? Of course not. The customers didn’t have any obligation towards me, they were free to choose, as always.

Most people will probably say that I am explaining obvious things here, and I agree. However, it seems that there are some who don’t get this simple truth of our society. They don’t know that there are always businesses that are profitable and there are those which are not. And nobody is obliged to keep unprofitable businesses afloat, which is a good thing — they have to die to make way for good business ideas. This is the self-regulation of the market, something that gives businesses an incentive to improve.

A website is a business. Often, its owner gives us content for free and hopes that in return we will click on the advertisements he puts up. This is not the most original business idea meaning that profitability depends very much on details. Obviously, the site’s content has to be useful and original, otherwise nobody will come to read it. But that’s not enough, he also needs to get people interested in his ads, otherwise he will not earn any money despite many visitors. So he has to make sure that the ads are relevant and presented in a way that is attractive to his customers. This is hard, but when you start a business you shouldn’t be looking for easy money. And annoying customers with ads to the point where they start blocking them is obviously the best way to get out of business.

And yet I see claims that web users are “obliged to pay website owners”. I see people saying that blocking ads is “thievery”. It seems that some people want to force bad business models on the customers and to reduce them to advertisement receivers who should no longer any choice. One of them called me a “communist” — and yet he didn’t seem to understand that free will is a very basic requirement for a working capitalistic society. I said it before and I can say it again: not every website on the Internet has the right to be profitable. And if more people understand this, maybe in a few years we will have fewer crappy sites that we (Internet users, their customers) have to pay directly or indirectly. Their death will make other, better websites possible.


Comment [20]

  1. LorenzoC · 2007-09-06 22:47 · #

    Wladimir, in my professional experience I saw that most people who are involved in planning the business model behind the web sites don’t understand what the Internet is and how it works. The better they can do is to take the model from a more “consolidated” media, like the TV or the paper magazines and simply try to enforce it over the Web.
    Their idea of “content”, “user” and “advertisement” comes from there, on those traditional media the “user” doens’t have any right or ability to chose. You buy a magazine and you get 1/3 pages of advertisement. People should be payed to read some magazines instead. Same for the commercials on TV. At the end it is everything very basic and simple, its like the “telco” that are selling ADSL lines to be able to sell Pay per View TV over those lines. Again, an old and traditional business model moved as it is over the Internet.


  2. Aaron Strontsman · 2007-09-07 21:16 · #

    I think these people are (willingly?) making themselves vulnerable by establishing a monoculture in business models. On the web, there seem to be about four core business models: * advertising (probably about 3/4 commercial web sites) * selling physical goods (most prominently Amazon) * let’s find a big investor and soon we’re gonna sell to Holtzbrinck (which is pure insanity, in my eyes. what about dignity and credibility?) * spam & phishing (which are illegal)

    In school, probably everyone has learned that monocultural forests are bad, because soon there are going to be parasites which are “compatible” with every single tree in the forest.

    I also find it a little audacious, when people who spend little to nothing on their web site, like those who use Blogger or My-Space or a personal web site without a lot of traffic simply put up own ads.

  3. LorenzoC · 2007-09-08 14:02 · #

    I don’t know. The Internet is somehow disruptive for the information and entertainment business. For example the blogs against the traditional news and magazines. But you could broadcast even TV shows like football games all over the world against the expensive “rights” every local channel has to pay. Or I could name the P2P against the copyright. I guess it is natural those who make money with the traditional business see the Internet like a problem and a menace. There is also the option that there isn’t any working business model for the Web as we know it today. In general terms, back to the “network neutrality” topic.

  4. chewey · 2007-09-08 16:07 · #

    Remember the time when printing put all those scribes out of business? I’m quite glad there was no such thing as strong global lobbies back then…

    Some business models just don’t survive progress, and that is usually a good thing. The problem arises when some of those dying businesses are big and powerful in the present.

  5. Денис · 2007-09-09 17:54 · #

    Владимир как дела то ?

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Дела неплохо, в общем-то. Думаю, вы о том, что я в форумах не отвечаю? Просто руки еще не дошли разгрести два месяца сообщений, см. Скоро займусь и форумами.

  6. Денис · 2007-09-10 20:32 · #

    Да не я так просто спросил, а от ABP вам давно уже пора отдохнуть он и так хорошо работает )))

  7. Doctor X · 2007-09-16 00:11 · #

    Apparently those who feel the users of AdBlock are “stealing” from websites will advocate confiscation of television channel changers—they allow viewers to avoid television ads.


  8. bigfucker · 2007-09-16 08:24 · #

    [offensive language removed]

  9. outspaced · 2007-09-16 13:07 · #

    Twat. The Internet was designed for free information. YOU go and develop you’re own half-assed ad-based money-loving system; and see how many idiots follow you.

  10. outspaced · 2007-09-16 13:09 · #

    For “you’re” read “your”; got a bit excited pointing at the freak.

  11. Alexander Gieg · 2007-09-18 23:04 · #

    There will probably come a time, once ad-blocking is widespread, when ads in websites will take the form of product placement. Blog authors with a huge following will strike deals with companies to write here and there in their texts, by themselves, one or two-line mentions to that company products. Just imagine it:

    “Today Mary and I went to see a motocross rally on ‘x’. This and that happened, blahblablah. As the day was very hot, I purchased a delicious CokpsiTM soda at the promotional price of only ‘$y’ a can until the end of the month, try it too. Activities resumed afterwards and blahblahblah. Before returning home, we stopped our GN® SUV at McClown®‘s drive-in and bought two awesome HappyFoodsTM for only ‘$z’ each. Then…”

    It won’t be beautiful, but at the same time it will be 100 times more effective than the useless ads we see today. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this was already happening…

  12. Rick Drake · 2007-11-15 04:39 · #

    One of them called me a “communist”

    Am I reading this right? His real customers are the advertisers; the “content” is just bait. His business model is luring people ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H “consumers” (who might as well be fish) and exposing them to ads. He’s chacun espèce du predator upon his own species, a virtual cannibal.

    You empower the “advertisement receivers” with a means to make a choice.

    If somehow you empowered his customers — as if they need any more power — THAT would, indeed, be pro-free-market-capitalism. But you’re not. You’re empowering the “fish”! No wonder he’s mad…

    Now, here’s where I need some help: Treating people like fish to be lured into your net — is that Capitalistic or Communistic? Supplying people — no, they are not “fish” — with a means to evade the [c/t]rap: Is that Cap or Com?

    I’m not really sure, but isn’t “Cap“ism’s complaint about “Com“ism that it treats people monolithically and doesn’t honor their sovereign individuality and free will?

    He called you a “communist”??? Hasn’t he got that backward? Or have I?

  13. A C Three · 2007-11-29 20:15 · #

    You all (well, most of you, anyway) are missing the most important point: advertisements on TV or on the radio or in the newspaper cannot harm me. But if I browse to to catch the World Series score, the mere display of a banner ad from a hacked ad server can instantly compromise my computer. That’s why I use AdBlock, and it’s why I tell all of my customers, friends, and family to use any ad-blocker they can put their hands on (but preferably AdBlock!).

  14. brian hannold · 2008-03-10 21:32 · #

    hey, i want advertisement for women thing to removed and i don’t need this women on my advertisement or send me this ok thanks

  15. Sigh · 2008-03-29 18:53 · #

    Technically, you should be proud to be called a communist, after all, capitalist is the greater insult. (communists would “share” the internet, capitalists would “sell” the internet… and charge outragious fees for usage… buy out or murder competition… and other impure and dastardly deeds)

    Also, if I remember right, people make money not from the display of internet ads, but from people clicking them…

    Consider this, I have a roommate who, everyday, turns the A/C down past 60, leaves empty soda cans lying around, and has something… growing… in his room. The cost of cleaning up after him AND the electical expenses are absurd, but worse yet is that he believes that he should need to “pay” for any of it.

    That is the crux of the argument, if you visit a webpage you are exacting a cost on the owner of the page. If the owner does not merchandise then by blocking the ads you limit the potential revenue.

    Arguing that there are people who would never click an ad is also ignorant, even people who abhore advertisments can STILL be intrigued by them. It’s not like these people have NO interests what-so-ever that cannot be captivated by a small block on their computer screen.

    It’s a fundementally stupid to argue wheither or not advertising is bad. If you’re a capitalist, it’s a necessity, if you’re a communitist it’s sheer stupidity. But either way you go, the only thing that matters is that society IS capitalism (unfortunatly) and everything has a hidden cost.

    Besides (relaying to “ads don’t generate money”) who cares about the advertisers, those ARE the rich bastards with all the gold. We care about the people who NEED ads on their webpages to keep it running, those who aren’t massive corporations who can afford their own servers and bandwidth.

    And I won’t deny that even those who can afford not to have ads advertise… thats because capitalism begets greed… but if you’re going to support the blocking of ads, you are also supporting the blocking of ads on low or no income sites that can barely afford to keep up. This essentially amounts to support for capitalism by starving off the competitors.

    W/E… I need to get off this topic, sigh…

  16. Lincoln · 2008-04-05 23:09 · #

    How can you stop people from blocking advertisements?

    In practice, you cannot. User agent spoofers, anonymous proxies, local host file editing, etc., all easily defeat such measures. It is better to invest the energy and expense into determining how to reach a consumer without annoyances that prompt the adblocking and without bigotry that harms the marketer’s reputation. I don’t mind small text advertisements, in fact, I have clicked on a number of them, but I do mind something flashing, beeping, and dancing around on the middle of the screen while trying to read a news article.

    News sites are a good example, they serve news and if they don’t charge a fee for access then they operate with the implicit understanding that some people will not visit their sponsors. This isn’t such a difficult concept, if you don’t want people to access your site for free, then charge a cover fee. If you do allow free access then don’t complain when advertisements are blocked by those who won’t click them anyway.

  17. Family practice jobs · 2008-06-16 09:27 · #

    I agree – and with that i must say the money is what rolling the wheels of the web – if the webmasters will not get paid somehow that will stop the good job that they are doing.

  18. Family practice jobs · 2008-07-17 22:50 · #

    And to add onto that – all the free stuff and services we are getting will go away.

  19. Term Papers · 2010-01-25 12:20 · #

    Danny Carlton’s your first project is nice. Hope that these investments will help their products sell better. It is only important how many people actually decided to click through to advertiser’s site and to buy something, thus justifying this ad (I admit, this is a very simplified view but that’s the general idea). Advertisements are only a mechanism to distribute this money. And usually, the idea is to distribute the money depending on how much revenue a particular site generated for the advertiser. It really help us.

  20. DrPizza · 2010-03-04 21:42 · #

    > Their death will make other, better websites possible.

    This presumes a universe in which websites are competing for limited resources and as such have some degree of exclusivity. This is not true in any meaningful sense in this universe. Current sites do not need to die just to make room for other, better websites.

    So this rationalization really does not pass muster; there is nothing stopping these other, better websites right now. You don’t need to kill off advertising to do so.

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