If you’re a reader of Forbes or The Telegraph and use some type of ad blocking software, you may have noticed warning messages urging you to turn off your ad blocker. Failing to do so would result in you being unable to progress beyond the interstitial like the ones above and below.
As concern for privacy has been a huge topic over the past 2-3 years, ad blocking has become quite a norm, with hundreds of millions of users installing some type of ad blocking software on their desktop or mobile devices. On the downside, this means that many sites that offer free-to-read content are potentially earning less and less as more of their ads are blocked (whether it be via a pageviews or clickthroughs).
Publishers have been fighting back by either coming to closed-door deals with top ad blocking software developers, including messages urging readers to consider turning off their ad blockers, and now as far as denying access all together.
As publishers ourselves, we understand why others like ourselves are getting worried as blocking ads cut into the bread and butter of many content producers out there, but at the same time, the standards of advertising have been so painfully horrible over the last few years, it’s understandable why readers block ads.
Forbes only recently dropped their block on ad blockers and wrote a little piece about it. They came up with a few issues that need to be resolved on the advertisers’ end including ad clutter, slow loading times and bandwidth hogs, and even the potential of malware being passed across to viewers’ systems.
Unfortunately for them, they received quite a negative reaction when they put the block in place, as was clearly seen across Twitter.
For those who did access the site by whitelisting the forbes.com domain, it wasn’t the smoothest journey either. There were some who even accused the site of infecting their computers with malware, even though these claims have not been confirmed, nor were they able to replicate the issue.
HOWEVER, the very same article linked above has a total of 9 float-to-fixed ads and 8 sponsored ‘recommended’ articles, which significantly blew up my browser’s memory usage from about 500MB to 1.1GB just by loading that single article only. It got significantly worse as I continued to scroll down to their other articles that loaded up via their infinite scroll feature. As a Firefox user, I rarely have problems with my browser but surprisingly enough it froze up for a brief moment until the ads were finished loading.
The Telegraph was not as bad, but there were 3 image ad units, 1 text ad, and 11 sponsored ‘recommended’ stories which also did have some impact on the amount of memory being used by my browser. There were one or two tweets stating that The Telegraph had as much as 14 ad units on one page, but maybe everyone’s experience is different.
Again, as a publisher I do feel that smaller sites shouldn’t be ad blocked without some consideration, as revenue helps us at the end of the day, but then when I visit Forbes (for instance), I can agree one thousand times in favour of ad blocking.
Hopefully they take this feedback as a sign that advertisers also need to play a part in developing more streamlined and customized ads that fit to the platform they are being displayed on, as well as delivery systems that reduce bandwidth and memory hogging. Also, we don’t need 9 ads on a page… how about that?