AdBlocker ads a new Ad Network

OH THE IRONY!

In case you are not familiar with the software AdBlocker, it allows users to block “most” banner advertising that many websites use to make money on the web. They already had a way for advertisers to get whitelisted ie pre-approved to show ads if they are deemed acceptable. Now that they have a massive installed user base they are monatizing (milking it for profit) it further by letting people pay to be deemed as “acceptable” advertising.

The question is how long will its users continue to use it as it allows more and more banners to fill the users pages as they surf the web? That’s one question. The other is the question of censorship and possible interference with how people make a living and do business that comes into play by making software that blocks out parts of what site publishers publish on their websites.

I think while the discussion and question as to whether or not ad blocking software is censorship or as many publishers view it a despicable way to do business online that cuts into their already dwindling ad revenues, there possibly is another question we should be asking.

Is the traditional display advertising business model for publishers still serving the needs of the public and publishers in a way that keeps up with the changing technology and times we live in?

I’ve been involved in Internet advertising since 1996. I’ve seen users become more and more “banner blind” or able to tune out advertising banners each year. One reason they do is that they are not on the website to buy something being shown in some animated flashy banner or video ad. They are on the website to get some information, news, opinion or entertainment.

Imagine you go into a restaurant to get dinner with your family and the waitperson brings some hot rolls and butter out or chips and salsa and just as you reach in for some the waitperson reaches their hand in to block you and says “please read this thirty second ad by our sponsor first”. Are you going to really be interested in buying whatever that advertiser is selling, the one keeping you from your good eats?

I think there’s got to be a better business model that helps users find products and services of interest to them in ways that work for them. Advertising is a 20th Century broadcast model that is essentially “push” technology that pushes out content asking you to watch and buy on their schedule.

The Internet at its best is social and a two way communication medium. Perhaps something like a recommendation service where “your friends who read this liked and bought this. Would you like to see more?” type of ad would be more mutually acceptable to users and profitable to publishers? Maybe if you opt in to such a system to you get instant coupons for the things you like to buy anyway?

Maybe people will create Networks of content sites akin to HBO, Showtime or Netflix on a subscription model where for one low monthly fee you can access the entire inventory of websites that are all ad free?

I’ve always found that advertising to be successful should be the process of getting things people want and need to them effectively and serving their needs hopefully so they keep buying from you or your clients. Like any sales experience one should be focused on building good lasting relationships and helping people get what they need rather than focused on just “ROI” return on investment.

Optimally the web should be about expanding and improving forms of communication and providing value to all stakeholders, and that should include advertising. Time to find a mutually beneficial way to disrupt the status quo.

Joseph Segal is a writer, web developer, and Founder of Better World Advocates.