Ad blockers: Fighting back!

July 14, 2009
By Mike

I have for a long time considered ad blocking to be an extremely selfish practice. Of course those who use ad blockers find all sorts of twisted logic to justify their actions. I’ve never taken any sort of action to block content for those who block ads, till now!

Recently I started work on resurrecting the online help for Wizz RSS. This will be the fourth incarnation of the online help, and believe me, creating online help is one of the most tedious and thankless tasks anyone could undertake. Due to the fact that people have always complained about various aspects of the online help (Funny how people always whine about stuff they get for free), this time around I decided to take a slightly different approach: creating Flash help “videos” with Wink. Oh I’m sure there’ll still be those who whine about it. They always do!

Anyway, I used MediaWiki for the online help, and I’ve been creating the help “videos” with Wink. I hacked the MediaWiki code to get it to display Google ads at the top of each article page. Even though AdSense is really paying pathetically badly at the moment (AdSense ads NEVER pay very much, and don’t believe the bullshit Google tell you!), every little bit helps towards covering the costs of running the site.

When I saw how big some of the Flash files are that Wink creates, I thought: hang on a moment! I’m doing this for Firefox users, most of whom use ad blockers!? Why!?

There are over 100 000 people who use Wizz RSS on a daily basis. If all of them had to hit the help videos on a single day, not only would it bring my little server to its knees, but it would also chew up all of my bandwidth. Of course to those who block ads, none of this means anything at all. Their intrinsically selfish nature makes them feel that they have a right to block anything that might contribute towards covering the costs of the free service that they expect!

Right! Gotta do something about this! So I did!

I now detect if the AdSense ads are being blocked (Maybe not very well, but I’m sure it’ll cover most cases), and if my ads are blocked, I block the content. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work around my block, but I guess it’s safe to assume that it’ll be way above the ken of the average ad blocker :)

Oh and I’m sure that they’ll bitch and whine about it too, but who cares?

9 Responses to Ad blockers: Fighting back!

  1. Marc on July 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I agree 100% as a web publisher. Everyone has no problem consuming our research or our content but then have an issue with us trying to generate revenue from our IP – even if it is a pathetic little amount via AdSense

  2. Mike on July 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Yeah, they’ll suck you dry and then still complain that your server is slow, demanding that you upgrade it!

  3. gmk on July 14, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    No twisted logic – if i want to see ads – i wouldn’t block them – so you block your content if i block your ads – i know longer read your site.

    Sorry but Advertising needs to be a choice thing – its invasive and its taking over public space – so on the internet the power to block ads is an excellent addition to any browser.

    Now its worth noting i don’t have a problem with contetual adsense ads – its the rich media rubbish that hangs over content, wastes bandwidth and is generally made by some coke snorting designer with little reagrd for the end user and invariably fuels mankinds massive consumerism which is killing the world.

    So do your thing to save the planet and don’t advertise.

    Twisted enough for you ?

  4. Mike on July 14, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    @gmk: At least your logic isn’t quite as twisted as some that I’ve seen :)

    Of course you forget that the very same “public space” of which you speak, is, to a large extent, funded by the very same advertising you want to block. So what happens to the “public space” when all ads are blocked? You might save the planet, but I think you’ll also kill off a huge chunk of the “public space.”

  5. Marc on July 14, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Correct! Its easy to complain but they don’t rush to contribute to the free blogging, website platforms, e-mails, picture sharing, video sharing etc

  6. Mike on July 14, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    A few days ago I came across a group on Facebook called Keep Facebook FREE

    The stupidity of the group is summed up in this statement, which is published on the group page: -

    “We all need to join this group and let Facebook know that we WILL NOT pay to use it, and if they start charging a fee we will go somewhere else.”

    The group has over 150 000 members, and I wonder how many of them block ads? Facebook survives on advertising as I’m sure do many of the other free services these people use. They feel they have a right to adversely influence the ability of a free service to generate income, yet at they same time they feel they have a right to demand it stay free!

    So if Facebook starts charging (Which I very much doubt Facebook will do), they’ll all go somewhere else… Smart! So they’ll add additional overhead to wherever they go. The additional overhead will force upgrades, and the upgrades will cost money… And here we go again.

    Perhaps people need to realize that it is their very own selfishness that kills the goose that lays the golden egg.

  7. gmk on July 14, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Indeed, advertsing revenue does contribute to costs, but lets be honest server space isn’t that high unless you are running a facebook, so when i visit a blog where i have to fight for the content – i ain’t going to read it. In fact i will probably never visit again.

    I am not opposed to all forms of advertising – just most of it :D

    Marc – i take umbrage at your comment – the so called web 2.0 and all the platforms you mention are just that – platforms – the content is user generated – i don’t see to many revenue sharing schemes out there for content tahst generated by the folks out there and lets be honest content is what people want not platforms.

  8. Ad Blockers - my thoughts | IT Geeks on July 14, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    [...] today, Mike over at posted a great piece on Ad Blockers and online user habits and it got me thinking about a bigger [...]

  9. Mike on July 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    A bit of interesting info: -

    Since implementing the content block, my daily income from AdSense has more-or-less tripled!