Like most people nowadays, I use an ad-blocker when I go online. I made the switch to Firefox a year or so ago and installed Ad-Block at about the same time. It made a world of difference in the quality of my web-viewing experience, and I haven’t looked back since. A few days ago, gaming site Destructoid posted an interesting article regarding ad-blockers and their website’s revenue. Using a third-party site called BlockMetrics, they were able to determine that roughly 40-45% of their users blocked ads on their website. That’s about half of their ad revenue going straight down the drain.
I never really put much thought into how my Ad-Block usage might be hurting sites I enjoy visiting. I’m sure that many of you are the same way. Ads can range from non-obtrusive, simply displaying product information and logos, to horrible ads that pop over your screen (quite rare nowadays) or play video/audio automatically. As soon as someone has a terrible ad experience like this, I can’t really blame them for installing a solution to prevent it from happening again. I didn’t really feel like I needed to install Ad-Block when I did finally install it, but I knew that I would rather just block everything instead of taking the risk of being irritated.
You may be surprised at just how hurtful this can be to sites you like. A large percentage of that site’s revenue, probably most of it, comes from these ads. When a blocker program prevents you from seeing those ads, the site doesn’t get the hit for your view, meaning less money in their pockets. A site that grows more popular by the day won’t see a similar increase in funds because of these blocker programs. This is how big sites like 1UP and Gamespy can close down and is probably one of the major factors of any site that does end up having to shut down. Many sites, such as Giant Bomb, offer subscription packages both to convenience their visitors and to help recoup some of that lost revenue. Unfortunately, not every site can pull something like that off.
It’s really sad to think of writers not getting paid for their work, especially for someone like me who would like to be in that line of work some day. As much as people tend to complain about “professional” game journalists, they are something we need in the industry. They bring us the information we want with previews (although PR makes this hard; a topic for another day) and release-day reviews. They have access to interview developers and learn things about the industry that we never could. The best of them poke and prod at industry failings and speak out about what needs to change. We get some of this from individuals on the Internet who don’t work at a publication or those who freelance, but those writers who do work professionally have more connections. They can do more interesting things thanks to the place they work at and the people they know (even though some of them don’t currently). Those writers will never get a chance to push games forward if they are out of work.
Advertising on websites is in a very strange place right now. The old ways aren’t really working as well as they used to, and no one knows where to go next. The best way we can help prevent talented writers from being put out of work is to ensure that our ad-blockers aren’t hurting them. After reading that Destructoid article, I made sure to turn my blocker off for the sites I truly care about (Destructoid, Joystiq, Rock Paper Shotgun, etc.). I won’t make excuses for having it turned on in the first place; I should have known better and wish I could give back the revenue I lost those sites. Please do the same if you use one of these programs. A little bit of annoyance for us goes a long way to supporting great games journalism.
Reference – Destructoid