I really, really, really dislike online advertising.
I find the claims made by many ads to be offensive to my intelligence, and I am not remotely interested in teeth whitening or novelty means of losing weight. Fad diets and colon cleansing are right out.
No, I don’t want to punch the monkey or, for that matter, Osama bin Laden. I don’t want poorly-made faux Windows XP ads warning me that my registry isn’t optimized. I am certainly not the 1,000,000th visitor to a particular site, and I know I have not won any sort of prize. See “Free Lunch, No Such Thing As A”. Making them blink, flash, or vibrate around in ways that induce seizures will not make me click them. Sites that host such ads will likely have me take my eyeballs elsewhere.
I understand that advertising is an important means of funding the operations of many sites, large and small. I don’t begrudge non-intrusive advertising that tries to be somewhat related to what I’m reading. If I’m reading a page that’s talking about, for example, astronomy, advertisements for telescopes would be on-topic and related. So long as they’re not obnoxious, don’t blink, flash, pop-up, expand, make noise, or cover/crowd out content, I’m ok with that. If ads for teeth whitening or weight loss come up, that irritates me. If I’m reading a gunblog and there’s an ad for ammo, that’s fine…indeed, I might click the ad to see if the site in question has good deals. If the ad’s for some new TV show, I could care less.
Over the last few years, I’ve routinely used Adblock Plus, an outstanding Firefox add-on that allows one to block ads on pages one views. All this time browsing the web ad-free has been fantastic, and really sped up my browsing.
However, I realize that my actions may have resulted in a financial loss to several of the sites I visit, so I’ve decided to do an experiment: I’ve turned off Adblock Plus and removed the “opt-out” cookies from various advertisers so they can “target” ads toward my “interests”. Google makes it really easy to view and modify the categories and interests that Google associates with your ad-viewing habits. Cool.
- Holy moly, there’s a lot of obnoxious ads out there. I really don’t care that George Clooney and Anne Hathaway are “geeks”, nor is it relevant to my interests that a site exists for “Geek 2 Geek Dating”. Such ads are not remotely related to my reading of the news. Flash ads can go die in a fire, as can ones that play sound.
- On the other hand, there’s a lot of great, on-topic ads. Take, for example, this page. The site allows car owners to enter information about their fill-ups and does some neat stuff with it. On the left there is a color-and-style-matched Google text ad that blends in with the overall layout. At the time of my browsing, it was showing subtle ads for Honda Civics (hey, the page it’s being displayed on is about the Civic! Fancy that.), Hyundai Elantras (a competitor to the Civic), and a few other car-related ads. Not obnoxious at all, and relevant to the topic at hand. I approve.
I’ll continue this experiment for the next week or two, after which I’ll turn back on the various protective measures. Based on my results over the experimental period, I’ll consider allowing ads on specific sites that I frequent and that don’t have annoying ads. Those that have irritating ads will be blocked.
Additionally, I’m going to make the following statement: unless it’s absolutely necessary from a financial/operational standpoint, I will not display ads on this site. In the event that I do display ads, they will be subtle and as on-topic and relevant as I can make them. Fortunately, this site requires on the order of $20/year for hosting, domain costs, and other related expenses, so such expenses are barely worth talking about.
That said, I do use services like SiteMeter, Google Analytics, and QuantCast to get some interesting information about visitors. Basically, I like to see where visitors are coming from, mostly so I can edit a post to say “Hi, visitors from [referring site]!”. That, and I like looking at shiny graphs. Having a third-party service do this is far less of a hassle than analyzing server logs, though I’m considering turning off Google Analytics, as it doesn’t do quite what I want it to. I don’t seek to gather any personal information. Hopefully this is not objectionable.