Ads are the content producer’s and business owner’s best friend, but the Internet surfer’s and online consumer’s worst nightmare -- well, at least for some people. You’ve seen ads on your favorite sites, as well as on your search engine results. People have mixed views about online ad placements; some users don’t mind having a couple of ads show up onscreen, but others hate that they ruin their user experience and browser performance. Ad blockers were invented for those who want their Internet experience to be free from advertisements.
However, not all ads are created equal.
There are the annoying pop-up ads that spam a Web page and usually link you to suspicious landing pages. Aside from being persistent, these ads ruin the online experience because they slow down your browser. On the other hand, there are legitimate targeted ads based on the website’s content or user’s profile and interests. Though viewed as less intrusive than spam pop-ups, some people have concerns about privacy because targeted ads access their browsing habits and personal information to bring them ads tailored to their interests.
Reports show that the popularity of ad blockers is rising among Internet users, and that users from 18 to 34 years old -- the age range of the majority of Internet users -- are using ad blockers. Studies also reveal that wealthy people prefer ad blockers. Because of this, many advertisers and content creators are now worrying about the Internet’s future. It’s a known fact that websites earn money through ad placements, so without ad visibility, there’s concern that there will be a negative impact on the online economy. However, experts think otherwise, according to the following:
- Ad blockers focus consumers’ attention on more legitimate ads. Not all ads are blocked when ad blockers are used. Some of them are shown as “acceptable ads,” while the intrusive, pop-up ads are eliminated from the user’s screen, thus giving the “good ads” more exposure.
- Ad blockers challenge advertisers to consider new marketing channels. Because of the so-called “phobia” that Internet users have for traditional online ads that ruin the browsing experience, advertisers and content creators should think of new ways to seamlessly integrate ads into websites. Instead of designing designated areas for ads, ads should appear more naturally in a website’s content.
- Website owners could charge a small fee for an ad-free experience. Mobile apps have been doing this. There are also websites that offer subscriptions, which results in fewer ads -- or no ads -- on their sites. This small fee may cover the revenue lost due to those who opt out of ads. But content creators shouldn’t exploit this system by charging high fees. Free options should also remain available for users.
According to Eric Norstrom, director of digital operations at MDG Advertising, “The rise of the ad blockers shows how powerful users are, and provides brands with the challenge of how to better craft content that resonates with the target audience.”
Related: The Web's Most Effective Ads
Internet users can change the landscape of how the Internet runs. In the end, publishers and content creators must always think of their audience’s preferences and aim their strategies toward a more satisfactory experience for both parties.