Ad Blocking is Immoral
After a terrible write up claiming that Ad Blocking is Moral made the front page of Reddit, I felt obliged to respond.
First, a brief response. For lack of a better word, (actually, this is pretty much the perfect word), the piece is drivel. It cases the ethics of Ad Blocking (visitor) and Ad Serving (publisher) in terms of effectiveness, relevancy, and business modeling. While these may all be useful arguments of whether a publisher ought to use advertising to generate revenue, it does not create a meaningful ethical statement on whether subverting advertising efforts is moral.
- Sarcastic Response: “In other words, people should support bad business models because it’s more convenient for the businessmen.”
Not supporting a bad business model means boycotting the store, not going in and taking all the free stuff.. If you think the advertisements on a site are terrible, email the webmaster or leave it in the comments, and don’t return to the site to read the content until they have been replaced with a better business model. [ I do take issue with the comment that ad-supported content is a bad business model. On the contrary, contextual-ads have single-handedly funded millions of pages of content creation ]
- Webmaster Responsibility: “Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, if a webmaster runs a site that’s popular enough that the costs become at all significant, the onus is on him (or her) to find ways to cash in on that popularity to keep the site going.”
Yep, and the webmaster did find a way. Advertisements. And you, are subverting that.
- Magazines vs. The Web: “Firstly, magazines have almost universally relevant adverts in them.”
What bearing does this have, to the ethics of Ad Blocking? Are you people not seeing this?
The Case Against Ad Blocking:
- The Implicit Contract:
When a content publisher places ads on his/her website, it is under the assumption that he/she is bartering with you. That barter is, in exchange for glancing over the advertisements (even if for only a fraction of a second), you can read all the content he/she has created. It is that simple.
Some webmasters make you barter more – flashy advertisements with pop ups and pop unders. If you think this is a raw deal, don’t trade. No, don’t steal the content without receiving the ads. That wasn’t the deal. That wasn’t the contract he/she has put forward. The deal was ads for content. You can accept or decline that single proposition.
- The Stupid Response:
“But I never click on anything anyway.” You’re right, you don’t. You also don’t have a dog, but you have no problem going to PetCo and taking all of their free dog treats at the check out. This is unethical. This is immoral. Even if you have never clicked on an ad in your life, and it causes you great pain and anguish to do so, you are allergic to clicking on ads, you should still leave the ads up and let the publisher get that impression.
There you go. Unless a Publisher Says It’s Ok: Ad Blocking is Immoral and Unethical. It is stealing. Period.