There has recently been an upswing in talk among tech sites about ad blocking plug-ins for browsers. On one side we have the publishers who feel they are being robbed blind by people who block ads and on the other side we have web users who say that the ads are garbage and they slow down page load times. Where do I stand on this issue? I stand to the side!

I look at this issue from the side because the arguments that are being made miss the point. Sort of like two kids arguing over the flavor of ice cream they are eating when they both want a Popsicle. Let's look at this from the advertiser’s point of view.

Advertiser

If I am advertising on a site I am likely either paying a flat monthly fee or I am paying a CPM fee. When someone tells me their site gets 500K page views a month and the ad will be displayed on all of those pages I will take that to mean that everyone who comes to the site will see my ad.

What happens when someone blocks ads? That means that person will not see my ad. As an advertiser who is paying CPM I would feel very good. If they don't want to see my ad why should that impression be counted against me? It falls under the "invalid click" argument. Since they do not even see my ad they will never click on my ad and thusly I would not want my ad impression wasted on them.

The opposite holds true if I am paying a monthly rate. Under this circumstance I want my ad to display 100% of the time because the publisher told me he gets 500K page views. If he reports 500K page views for the month that my ad is running but I only see 400K impressions than I know about 20% of his readership is using an ad blocker and I will want a 20% return on the fee because the publisher sold me a bill of goods and did not deliver!

Exceptions could be made for an overall drop in traffic but if my ad shows up on less than 100% of the page views I should not be paying full price.

Publisher

The publisher is in a bit of a quandary now. If he is getting paid at CPM rates than 20% of his traffic is not being monetized. If he is making $1CPM than he just lost $100 due to the 20% of people blocking his ads. Likewise his flat rate advertisers are not going to like being sold traffic on a 500K page view site but only getting 400K page views worth of advertising. What does the publisher do?

Either he can acknowledge the disparity and lower his rates while telling his advertisers what percentage block ads or he can get crafty. By crafty I do not mean using dirty tricks but instead I mean using simple webmaster tricks.

If he is showing banner ads that are hosted on a remote server the ad block user can just block that remote server. This is easy to get around by hosting those banners locally. Do not make the mistake of hosting them at example.com/images/banners because the ad blocker will just block that directory! You need to store those advertising images in the same place as the rest of your images, preferably somewhere important such as the directory that holds your CSS images. If the web reader blocks that directory the site will not render properly at all!

Web Reader

So, what do you as a web reader do?

You can start by finding an ad blocker plug-in and using that to block ads but there is a slightly technical yet much better way to do this. On Windows machines (Linux people already know how to do this on their machines and Mac people love ads) there is a special file called a hosts file. This file is a sort of alternate DNS server in that you can specify what domains resolve to what IP addresses. Your browser will always check the hosts file before asking DNS to resolve a domain name.

This method is also used by many viruses to stop you from getting to anti-virus sites on the web when you become infected!

Look in your C:/Windows/System 32/Drivers/Etc/ for a file called hosts. You can open this with a text editor and get to work.

Let’s say you want to block bigbadadserver.com, just add the following line to your hosts file:

127.0.0.1 bigbadadserver.com

You might have to add in some sub domains as well depending on how the site distributes ads. Parents can also use this to restrict the sites their kids visit.

127.0.0.1 is a loop back device. What will happen is that when your browser tries to connect to the ad server it will instead connect to your loop back device. Because your loop back device does not hosts the ads the call will fail and no ad will show up!

Conclusion

Ad blocking is here to stay. I block some ads but not all. The ads I do display tend to be hosted locally and are either paid (flat rate) or are affiliate in nature. The best sort of advertising to sell are sponsorship buttons (see the top of my site) and in-text advertising where someone pays you to turn a word in one of your posts into a link.
In the end ad blocking is good for advertisers as it will give them the feedback they need to hear so that they will stop making annoying and noisy flash ads. Nothing makes me say goodbye to a website faster than too many ads or flashy ads. If the ad starts talking I will never visit that site again!

What do you think about this?