Adblocking software provides huge amounts of utility to consumers while still allowing creators to generate income in other ways.
Advertisements on the web are annoying. They interrupt our favorite videos, block us from reading the news and sometimes can be malicious and attack our computers. In recent years there has been a booming use of ad blockers, things that prevent you from seeing those pesky advertisements. They work by blocking connections from advertising domains to your computer so that the advertiser can’t send you an ad to display on your screen. It’s simple and incredibly effective, so much so some websites prevent you from visiting them if you have one installed (you should also know that there are ways around that too).
However, there is a downside to using ad blockers; it slashes advertising revenue. Not just by a little either. Some websites have reported up to a 50 percent decrease from this profit stream, and one researcher has estimated that ad blockers will cost advertisers up to $35 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of dough.
The pros of using ad blockers are endless. They speed up the browsing experience because you don’t have to spend time loading advertisements. They save you time and annoyance because you don’t have to see the advertisement. Plus, ad blockers protect your privacy and security by helping block advertisements from malicious or unethical sources. The cons list is short; sometimes a webpage won’t load, and sometimes the ad blocker will block something that isn’t an advertisement (it should be noted that I’ve had this happen less than five percent of the time).
The ethical question is whether you block a revenue source from someone while you consume their content for free. First, let’s look at how much revenue a single ad view would generate. On YouTube, while it is very hard to approximate the income from a view due to there being so many factors, top content creators make less than one cent per view. One. Cent. If you listen and chat to professional content creators, they’ll tell you, “No, use an ad blocker. If you feel bad, donate a dollar every few months.” Not only then would you make up for the revenue you’re taking by using an ad blocker, but you also make up for several other people who watch with an ad blocker turned on.
Content creators have chosen another way to tackle this problem. Instead of depending on Google (in the case of many websites and all of YouTube) to provide ads and pay them, they simply sell ads directly in their video. Perhaps, at the beginning and end of every video, they sell thirty second blocks to advertisers. This allows them to create more targeted ads that their audience will enjoy while also allowing them to create even more revenue from it. Online publications don’t have this option, but this is just one example of a good solution to the ad blocker problem.
So if you have an ethical problem with ad blockers, take the time and donate a dollar to your favorite YouTuber, newspaper, online publication, whatever. Not only are you helping them more than if you didn’t have an ad blocker, but you’ll be getting all the pros from an ad blocker as well.