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  1. Warning! Feldian-length post ahead! It's really an editorial rather than your average forum post. Please read the whole thing before voting in the poll and replying. The point of this is to give you a site owner's perspective on online advertising and ad blockers in particular, and I aim to get a mature, well-informed discussion going about it. We're all familiar with advertisements, commonly shortened to ads. They're everywhere - from your local supermarket's weekly fliers to the massive billboards on urban high-rises. There's no denying that the advertising industry is a prevalent one in most people's lives. It has embraced technological innovations from the airplane to Hollywood-like computer graphics over the years. With an ever-increasing array of technologies at their disposal, advertisers have come up with a mind-boggling variety of ways to give you a sales pitch. The advent of the Internet (and particularly high-speed residential downlinks), combined with browser technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and Flash Player, presented advertisers with an opportunity to shell out some dosh in return for space on an existing website with an existing audience. Due to the interactive and media-rich nature of the web, advertisers have been able to provide ad experiences more dynamic than anything a newspaper or TV channel will ever show. But at some point, they took the "dynamic" aspect too far. Popular opinion has it that online advertising is not a solicited message from a product creator to a potential customer, but a brutal war for space, cash, and the most important factor - the end-user's attention. Pop-ups and pop-unders; pre-, mid-, and post-rolls; aural alerts congratulating you for winning contests you never entered. There's something to be said for being creative with an ad, but you know something is wrong when users begin to dread them. Enter the ad blocker. Several developers took it upon themselves a few years ago to create browser add-ons that seek out the ads in a page and remove them for the user. Promising an automated end to the UX- (user experience) destroying madness that online ads were, such add-ons enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity. Internet users were happy to take control of their experience and blot out what they didn't want to see, enjoying the content of sites in blissful purity. It sounds great, right? And from the end-user's point of view, it is. Ads are ugly, flashy, soundy, poppy, and do little else than distract you from the site you're trying to enjoy. What could be better than banishing it all with a single, free program? But like every good story, there are several sides to the plot. You're not the only character in your online adventure. Advertising is and always has been, for thousands of years, a method for advertisers to pay publishers for the privilege of marketing a product or service to the publisher's audience. Newspapers sell ad space between their articles to cover their writers' salaries, the maintenance of their printing facility, and rental for their office space. Television networks sell ad space interspersed in their content to cover the sky-high costs of maintaining their studios, equipment, and creative minds. Webmasters are no different. Site owners like I sell ad space on their little slice of the Internet for the exact same reasons - to lower the cost of using the site for you, someone else will need to provide the money to pay for its maintenance. Advertisers are more than happy to line up and pay site owners money for some space on their site to expose their wares to a new audience. Better yet, when the right advertisers are matched up with the right site owners, the end users get access to additional content that is relevant to their interests. An ad might give you that extra push to buy what later becomes your favourite video game. Ads were always meant to establish a symbiotic relationship between the user, the publisher, and the advertiser. The advertiser gets to show their product to a new audience. The publisher earns the advertiser's business, which helps the publisher maintain their own service. The end user is exposed to a product that may fill a need or desire in their life. If it does, the end user gives the advertiser some business, leaving the advertiser with more money to develop further products and the end user with a useful product. There's no denying that advertising can be a fantastic revenue stream for site owners, and a happy site owner with a profitable site is in a much better position to keep the site online and continuously work on improving it than one who pays for everything out-of-pocket. Among other things, a profitable site is a sustainable site. There is a very common misconception that I've seen time and time again in my experience as a site owner, and that is that sites are just as free to provide and maintain as they are to visit. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's true that one can maintain a relatively small site on pocket money, yes. But the monetary and temporal cost to a site owner to maintain a good website can increase dramatically as the site grows. Servers, bandwidth, software, development, support - all of these things and more cost money. And the bigger a site grows, the more it needs of each. Websites that get "free" hosting for huge amounts of traffic (Equestria Daily is a good example you're likely to be familiar with) pay for the resources they use in other ways. On Blogger, for example, you are limited to a very small feature set that Google have optimized to run and scale as cheaply as possible on their global server cloud. And this still does not take into account any of the other "costs" involved in running a website that doesn't have a monthly bill. What about plane tickets for the staff to various events that the site covers, for example? It might sound impressive if someone tells you that their site earns $10/day, which works out to ~$300/month, right? Well, what if the site owner spends 50 hours a week working on their site? The earnings work out to $1.50/hour. The crappiest minimum-wage job is going to pay more than that. I don't mean to imply that every site owner is looking to get rich, but that should say something about how much love one needs to have for their site to continue running it for years on end. Considering this, is it really fair to try and further limit the revenue that many site owners already get? Now, I've seen the "I'm just one guy of thousands; there's no way my choice is going to make a difference" mentality, and it is often a deciding factor in someone's choosing to use an ad blocker. IGN has 19 million readers. It won't matter if only 18,999,999 of them see any ads, right? The problem is, this mentality has become so widespread - people thinking of their individual choice as inconsequential - that all the collective choices of millions of Internet users have, together, made quite a noticeable impact. For an anecdotal example, just about half of MLP Forums' pageviews display any ads at all. The other half comprise traffic (that costs every bit as much to pay for) by users who have chosen to not see them, whether by refusing to opt in to them or using an ad blocker. Another common misconception is that ads only earn money if you click them, and that you won't cause any harm by removing them if you weren't planning to click them, anyway. This is, again, quite false. Advertisers are willing to pay more to show their ad to a larger audience (that's why a 30-second slot during the Super Bowl costs eight figures). As far as the advertiser is concerned, if you do not see ads, you do not exist and they will not pay for an ad slot that won't be shown to you. Even without clicking ads, their value increases for every impression they get. Newspapers, TV, and magazines have no conception of a "click" whatsoever, and the advertising industry thrives in them, does it not? A well-trafficked ad space will be more valuable. It's basic supply and demand, really, and it's odd how many people do not realize this. Here's where the irony begins. The very ad blockers that tens of millions of users believe to be performing a valuable service to the Internet by "killing" a corporation-driven economy where the wealthy only get wealthier are an advertising spiel in and of themselves. Look carefully and critically at the various ad blocker extensions' descriptions and their developers' comments. These developers are people who want to get their own product out to as many people as possible. Sound familiar? Here is how the developers of several popular ad blockers try to convince you to install their extension in your browser: Each ad blocker developer is trying to earn your click. They value your click on that "Install" button every bit as much as an AdSense advertiser values your click on the ad you saw in the New York Times. Your installation of their extension means that you trust them to run their code on your computer, and not a rival ad blocker's. In fact, some of them have amassed so many installations that the developers have begun to act like they have the entire advertising industry at their beck and call. When one guy's whims decide whether several million people see an ad or not, you'll probably want to pay attention as an advertiser, too. There's nothing inherently wrong with this - as I already stated, it's simply how the advertising industry works - and capitalism, by extension. The thing is, you're not supporting a "death of corporate greed". If anything, by installing an ad blocker, you are making a single individual more powerful by granting them control over what, if any, advertising you see. And like I said before, you might not think your choice means much - but most people tend to think exactly the same way and ironically create a much larger effect together. Let's return to the topic of revenue for a moment. Programming a good ad blocker that is desirable for users takes effort just like anything else. Most, if not all, of the ad blocker developers I've come across ask their users for donations. And because people perceive the removal of ads from their web browsing experience as a valuable service, they're willing to pay for it. And they do. In fact, the developer of Chrome Adblock earns so much from donations that he quit his day job last year. Don't believe it? Check out the reviews on the extension for yourself and see how many people are proud of the donation they've made. Honestly, it's working out pretty great for him so far. There's a disgusting moral implication to this, however: when an ad blocker removes an ad from a site, that ad (and therefore the site owner) can no longer earn any money from you. When you make a donation towards the ad blocker's developer, you are directly supporting the removal of a revenue stream for some of the very sites you love, and expressing your thanks for it. To a person who played absolutely no part in creating or hosting the content that made you love the sites you block ads from in the first place. Consider this... might it not be more worthwhile, if you're going to throw money at the problem, to give that money to the site owners? Many sites fully embrace the "premium membership = no ads" model - you either pay directly, or you let the site make money from you by displaying ads for you. It's a great model and one that I personally stand by. Comments like this one are sickening to me, as a webmaster: Another myth I'd like to dispel is that site owners either have no control over the ads that are being shown on their sites, or intentionally cherry-picked the ones that you see. Either way, if you get an annoying ad on a site, nothing will be done about it. This is completely and entirely false. While it doesn't go for every site due to the dizzying number of online business models, most site owners are more than willing to listen to and implement their users' feedback for a lot of things, including ads. At the end of the day, most of us want your attention and loyalty as a visitor. If our placement of advertisements jeopardizes your loyalty, we usually want to know about it and are happy to make it right. While the vast majority of online advertising is displayed via automated ad networks such as Google AdSense, these networks still usually provide facilities to filter out "bad ads" (I did some of that just last night). Some have network-wide policies against certain things that resulted in the proliferation of ad blockers in the first place. It is against AdSense's rules, for example, to run audio ads with it that start playing sound without the user's permission. AdSense doesn't offer any support for pop-ups, pop-unders, or interstitials, either. So next time you see an ad you don't like, consider getting in touch with the owner (or a higher-up, for larger sites) of the site you saw it on and give them your honest feedback. Site owners want happy users, and the good ones will pay attention to what you like and don't like about their site. And if you're thinking that the "big" multi-million dollar sites will throw your email in the spam bin, you should see this article on deviantART's blog (which is the third in a series). They went to the trouble of developing a custom plugin themselves to giving users a chance to help out with fixing the site's ads. The mere fact that so many commenters are saying, "just use AdBlock instead!" is ethically repulsive. One particular comment seemed to get the point of what deviantART's admins were trying to say: If a site as large as deviantART is willing to work with its users to improve the ads it shows, I hope that improves your confidence that other sites will do the same. Before ending this, I wanted to take a moment to say a few things specifically about MLP Forums and what I'm doing as a site owner to address the issue. First off, I only force guests to see ads. As soon as you register, they disappear unless you voluntarily choose to give them a chance and opt in. The reason I did this is because it gives me a chance to show the ad blocker users among you that, first of all, ads exist on the site (without the textual indicator in the UCP, you'll never even know there were ads here with a decent ad blocker). I've been fortunate enough to be able to sustain this site mostly on donations and subscriptions, which means I can take this risk with ads. Based on the feedback I've seen, just about everyone who has enabled the option has seemingly been impressed with how "reasonable" my placement of ads is. If anything, this proves that it is indeed possible to run advertising on a site in such a way that you do not feel the need to block it. For those users who do not opt into ads, the option still exists to donate or subscribe, both of which are ways of directly supporting the site (frankly, they're more effective, too). And the site does have enough revenue from users that see ads and donate for me to be able to still offer up a full, ad-free experience for free to those of you who neither donate nor opt in. Unlimited 100 MB attachments, huge PM inboxes, the goods. These exist because someone was generous enough to allow me to show them ads, contribute some money themselves, or a combination of both. Hundreds of users have opted into ads here, and the contribution that has resulted in has been more helpful than you might realize. The revenue this site has not only means I can cover the costs of high-end hosting for it, but also gives us a lot of managerial flexibility. Roleplay World with its character database cost a good deal of money to implement, factoring in the software that had to be purchased to make it happen, but it has resulted in a tailored and organized roleplaying experience. I was only able to make it happen because I had money to throw at it. Site owners having money to throw at things isn't evil, nor does it make them greedy. It is legitimately useful and a whole lot more sustainable than running an operation at a loss. It's directly comparable to an artist using money from contracted and commissioned work to purchase new art supplies and take advanced lessons to better their work for everyone who sees or orders it. I have left the choice of ads or no ads to you, the user. How you feel about it morally is up to you, and you can opt in and out as often as you like. While I certainly appreciate it greatly if you opt into ads or donate (or even both), my staff and I will treat you no differently if you don't like ads and don't want to or cannot donate directly. That is my promise to you. The other promise I have to make is that if any part of my implementation of ads here bothers you, I'm ready to listen to what you have to say about it. If there's anything I can do to make it right, I'll do my best to do that. Don't "vote" by silently opting out of ads if something about the ads themselves makes you want to turn them off. Start a feedback topic instead - I read each and every single one of them, and long-time members can attest to the fact that I take feedback seriously and am ready to act on it. I'm here to run a pony forum for you to enjoy, and I'm more than happy to work with you to improve the site. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, it is indeed possible to maintain a symbiotic, friendly relationship with a webmaster. It's time to close off this editorial now. Before you think cutting all ads out of a website will solve your problem with them, consider telling the site admins how you feel about their ads instead. By doing so, you are doing your part to help online advertising return to a state in which it is symbiotic for all three parties - the advertiser, the publisher, and even yourself. Before donating money to the developer of an ad blocker, consider whether the developer or the site you're blocking ads from deserves the money more. Perhaps the site is willing to remove ads for you with no need for an ad blocker if you pitch in to cover their costs. Before installing an ad blocker, think about the implications of what you're about to do. Consider how you'd feel if you were a site owner trying to earn something from ads and all your users thought you were evil, greedy, or irrational for doing so. Before making the choice to strip out ads from your web browsing experience as a way to help you "gain control" of what you see on the Internet, realize that most, if not all, of the websites you visit are private property. You do not hire a team to destroy every banner in a mall before you go shopping. The banners aren't yours to destroy - someone owns the mall, and the decision of what goes on the mall's walls is rightfully theirs. Website ads are really no different - the website is the mall, and the ads are the banners. If anything, I hope this piece has been an eye-opener for you. I don't expect most of you have had too many opportunities to get a webmaster's perspective on ad blockers, so I look forward to reading your thoughts and responding to them. You're welcome to vote in the poll now; as well, feel free to share this article with anyone you want. Just remember this: The Internet isn't only about you. Site owners and advertisers are human, too.
  2. Alrighty. Here's a suggestion. Let users identify what topics they are interested in ( aka minecraft, cs go, art ) and send them notifications in private messages ( because I mean, who's gonna look through the clusterf*ck of status updates ) when an event that should interest them pops up . For example, the making Christmas merrier gaming stream marathon. I only knew such an event existed because I was stone bored to the pint that I was looking through the recently discussed topics. Even then, only a very small portion of bronies attended the event. I got to know serveral gamers through the mlp forums and they were in the dark of this event's existence. But then again, I'd imagine that it'd be impossible to implement a new feature like this given that the forums runs on some 'ips communities' thing, but what the hell, a suggestion's a suggestion
  3. It's a well-known fact that in comparison to the multitudes of banner ads all over the place that try to use decidedly more conventional means to grab our attention, all three of these are the Internet equivalent of pushy salespeople trying to disturb your peaceful Internet browsing. The problem is deciding which one is worse. Which one is so bad that it makes you dislike a page? Which one do you think justifies an advertiser and a website shooting themselves in the foot by inconveniencing and annyoing their users the most? Which ones do you think are most deserving of the little X in the corner of the box?
  4. I've been flipping through Cartoon Network and Nick lately and I noticed that outside the occasional Happy Meal or cereal/fruit snack/Go Gurt ad, and Xfinity or car commercial for the parents. Nearly every single product advertised was for a damn toy. I know toy commercials have been a part of kids' advertising for years, but watching old Nick and CN commercial breaks, they were far from the only things advertised. I remember you could advertise Skittles on Nickelodeon, I remember Snickers commercials airing on Cartoon Network. And various other things like games, treats, music, and clothes were advertised on kids networks. And sine kids networks targeted kids up to 14, that ment a few products that appeal to teens like Soda were advertised. And not everything was dumbed down for kids either, McDonald's used to market full menu items like the Big Mac to kids as young as 8. You don't even see Pepsi or coke ads on Nick or CN anymore. What I'm trying to say is, what happened? Why are Cheetos and Kool Aid commercials airing on MTV now? Why is candy now something that can only be marketed to 12-34 year olds? Cereal commercials are now largely extinct, and except for the odd Nintendo commercial, there's hardly any video game commercials on kids networks anymore. Its like advertisers think 2-11 year olds only want toys.
  5. What are some ads that you have seen that are advertising the show or merch. I saw this ad and I think it's pretty weird.
  6. I understand that there are rules against advertising external sites here, either via pm or forum posts. And believe me, I get why that is. However, I'm in the process of creating an MLP themed personal fan site. Would it be a violation of the rules if I were to start a thread on it for the purposes of feedback and constructive crticism, treating it like another fan project? And I believe I could still link to the site in my sig, is that correct? Thanks for any feedback
  7. So I had an interesting thought. Remember back before Season 2 ended, how everyone was thinking, "Meh, a wedding two-parter. It'll probably be decent, but nothing super-good." and then we were all BLOWN AWAY by how amazing Chrysalis, the changelings, and the songs were? What if DHX is doing this with Equestria Girls? What if the trailer makes it look like a very cliched high school movie on purpose? They could have chosen tons of clips to show us, but it seems like the ones they chose made it look like a typical high school move. They might have had a reason for it - that reason being that it wouldn't get our hopes up too high, and we would come out of the theater absolutely blown away by how good EQG was. I'd love to hear your thoughts/opinions on this ^-^
  8. Yeah, seeing how it's already a big success, why not add to the fun? Advertise, boi!
  9. I've constantly thought about how much i 'advertise' drawings and projects. I've always felt like i overdo it and should give it a rest. Advertising in general is annoying at some point. But where's the limit? What's your thoughts on when someone is advertising something they've done or that they work with? Are they annoying? Are they interesting? Would you turn your back on them? How much do you advertise when you do drawings? Or perhaps you work at an advertising agency and can provide some experienced information? - Nac0n
  10. So today I drove by a bus station and on the back of the bus that was parked there was an ad for a laptop. And on the laptop screen insted of just blue or something, there was an ad for the new Batman movie. Now, I thought of this: "Why aren't there more ads like this? I mean, it's a really good way to either save ad space for the bus company, or a clever way to make consumers see the product". It's a really good advertising strategy. What do you think? (Do you agree or disagree)