The “Ad Block This!” Bus Makes a Point

It’s not about blocking ads, but caring about users

Right now the photo and another one like it are getting their fair share of the attention. Blocking ads is bigger than ever before and it poses a more and more serious threat to advertisers and media plus the agencies, data firms and what-not who place themselves between the two.

Photo: Outofhomedia / &Co (Source)

First of all, the photo is funny. It says, “Well, you can block us online, but you can’t block our ads entirely!” Which is fine, congrats.

But there is also another point in this… How ads behave.

No one in their right mind would want to block an ad on a bus. Well, maybe if it was offensive or was constantly playing the same annoying song over and over again. And that’s exactly the point: Ads that don’t interfere with our everyday life or usage of the product, the ad is on, are perfectly fine. That bus ad doesn’t shout your name, display you a product just saw on some random web shop or keep you from moving on through traffic.

But imagine if the ad blocks the entrance to the door of the bus. Or part of it. Or if the ad was so heavy that the bus could only drive at half the speed.

This is what a lot of online banner ads are doing. And that is precisely why people are installing ad blockers. You really should read this article, when you are done with this one.

It says everything you need to know: The user experience is key. And here, user experience is not about the size of a button, the color of your text or your hyper-optimized on-boarding flow. It’s about not pissing off the very people who are trying to use your product.

Here’s a key quote from the article I just linked to:

Simply stated, media companies have continuously prioritized short-term profits over user experiences. It’s started to add up. A poor experience is the first thing that stands out to users online. Consumers aren’t just installing ad-blockers because of data privacy issues (that’s a huge reason, as are data problems). Once we take a step back, it becomes evident that the largest driver is, in fact, a poor user experience. Too many ads. Ugly ads. Ads out of context. Ads that dominate the screen. Ads that are irrelevant. Ads that play video automatically. Ads that collect your data. Ads that sell your data to third-parties. Ads that deliver malware. Ads that kill your data plan. Ads. Ads. Ads. Here an ad. There an ad. Everywhere an ad-ad.

These are the ads, people want to block. Not ads on buses — especially not when they include an apt amount of humor.

When I look at some of the reviews written about our website at TrustPilot, two things appear dominant: Ads and performance (in relation to ads). Especially the pre-roll ads (displayed before the actual video the user requested) that can’t be ignored/skipped.

If you understand Danish (or know how to translate a website using Google Translate), please read this article on ad blocking and user experience I wrote back in September, 2015.

I advocate a model where the media is the basis of a form of social contract between advertiser and user. We all need to be here, but right now we are seeing what happens when advertisers overstep the boundaries set by the users in general: Block.

It’s us, the media, that our users come to visit. They come to our party. It’s our responsibility make sure that A, the advertisers are at the party as well — and B, that they don’t annoy anyone or behave to aggressively. And maybe we should also start looking at how to limit the amount of their friends they can bring to the party.