Talking tech since 2003

In society it has almost become commonplace to see ads everywhere. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re at, or what you’re doing; there is always going to be someone out there looking to buy your eyes in order to push their goods or services.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that advertising is a very important mechanism in business structure as companies and products would go absolutely nowhere if they relied on word of mouth alone.  But at the same time there is a part of me that honestly despises the fact that modernized civilization has gotten to the point where advertisements have become so common that one cannot even count the number of media solicitations that they get in a single day.

Perhaps one of the most annoying forms of advertisements out there today, at least for myself, are television commercials.  I can’t even explain how infuriated I am when I’m watching TV and really get into a program only to be interrupted by five minutes of ads before the plot can resume.  What makes this worse is the fact that my household pays for satellite television service each and every month and are still subjected to entertainment providers who “double dip” by making money off of commercials on top of subscription fees.  But really, the fact of the matter is that commercials are a key component in television as they provide an additional revenue source to both television providers and networks alike.  And quite arguably the lack of television ads would mean that providers would ultimately end up charging more for their services to cover their costs and maintain a healthy bottom line.

All that said, I don’t know many people out there who are really passionate in their hatred for TV advertisements.  Most people accept that they are there and move on.  But the same cannot be said about the Internet.  Oh, no.  If you even begin talking about online ads you’ll immediately get a fury of arguments from both sides; people who think that online sites are in the right by displaying ads online and those who think that ads should be abolished entirely.

Honestly, there’s no denying the fact that there are some web advertisements that are simply annoying, and I think that the sheer annoyance of having a site’s content interrupted is the big reason why we see utilities such as AdBlock Plus winning the hearts of so many users.

At the same time, it’s a solid fact that website owners make money from the ads placed on their site.  After all, it’s not as if a site is going to display ads just to annoy a guest.  Just as with TV ads, the motive for online ads is always to make money.  Ads give sites what is oftentimes their only form of revenue outside of donations and premium services.  So does this mean that every single website that displays ads is out there to get rich?  Not at all.

You see, in order for a site to even be online the people behind it have to out-of-pocket the funds needed to get it off of the ground.  Expenses like domain names, servers, CDN utilization, paid technical support, and software can all add up pretty quickly.  So even when a website is able to make a “profit” from displaying ads the entire operation is still lucky to break even after deducting the expenses from the ad revenue.  And even if a website is successful enough to turn an actual profit, it has been my experience that most monies are used to expand upon and improve the site itself.  Even in cases where a site owner keeps money for his or her own self it’s always well deserved considering the effort that had to be put in in order for the site to get to the profitable stage.  Really, what’s wrong with that?

On the flip side, I can just as easily side with people who oppose ads on websites.  Being someone with a somewhat slow Internet downlink it personally annoys me when the ads I load as part of a web page are larger in size that the actual content that I’m trying to view.  I mean, text-based ads from entities such as Google aren’t bad at all.  Even regular images are alright.  But when we start getting into “fancy” ads with overly done (often animated) graphics – or worse yet ads that utilize platforms like Adobe Flash – I do get pretty annoyed.

And it’s not just bandwidth, either.  You see, Flash isn’t exactly known to be a resource-friendly platform and users with lesser powerful computers often-times simply cannot afford to have such a large chunk of their processing power or system memory going towards displaying an intrusive ad.

So I guess the real question here is whether or not I myself block ads.  I’ve demonstrated both sides of a very interesting topic of conversation, but what side do I personally take?  The short answer: both.

You see, I don’t block ads with utilities like AdBlock Plus.  Even though I can’t really hold anything against those that do, the fact of the matter is that I see ads as the biggest lifeline to a websites success.  And for that reason I choose not block ads.  It’s even been my experience that if an ad on a website is boring the site itself is not worth my time in viewing.  The one thing I do “block”, though, is all plugin-based content.  Since I’ve started using Google Chrome (about a month now) I’ve taken advantage of the absolutely outstanding “click to play” feature that disables anything Flash-based until I click on and activate it.  Why?  Flash and plugin-based content, including ads, is a pain and if a website choses to use such ads they don’t deserve my viewing them.

What do you think? Are online ads annoying or useful?  Leave a comment!

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