As a journalist, I benefit from publishers showing ads. But as a Millennial, I’m curious about blocking.
So last week, I added an ad-blocking browser extension. Setup was easy. Before I finished brushing my teeth, I was enjoying the New York Times homepage. The experience was lush: beautiful columns of news were uninterrupted by banners or videos.
I don’t think I’ll keep the extension forever. In fact, I already miss those weird Amazon ads that follow me to Facebook (“Felicia, we think you’d like these hand soaps based on your purchase of ‘Mrs. Meyers, BASIL SCENT, 33 Oz.’”) But trying out the blocker made me want to hear why other Millennials block.
Are they interested in publishers’ stakes in advertising? Millennials take a lot of flak (try typing “Millennials are” into Google) for not caring about the world around them, so I wanted to hear their side. And looking at multiple sides of this issue that costs publishers $22 billion in revenue (according to the Adobe and PageFair study) couldn't hurt.
Below are two lightly edited conversations with Millennials (via Facebook) on why they block (or don’t).
Alex Ransom, 19
Alex has used in-browser pop-up blockers for four or five years within Google Chrome.
Why do you use
a pop-up blocker? More than anything, it's nice to know that that extra layer of protection is there. Part of the fun of going on the Internet is seeing the strange, interesting places
it can take you, but when you partake in that sort of virtual spelunking, there's always a possibility that you'll stumble upon a Web page that's loaded with spam, or sometimes even worse
Do you support sites you like? My family pays for a few premium Web sites that I use the login info for, and I could see myself paying for them myself if needed. But if a system could be reached where the ads on a site were more subtle -- maybe even to the point where they were barely noticeable, although I don't know how that would work -- and the consumer didn't have to pay for access to that site, that would be a preferable set-up.
Do you have any suggestions for marketers on making ads better? If I had any suggestions for marketers, it would be to stop any ads that hinder the speed and ease of your browsing. The Internet is a big, weird place to search and discover, and it's always annoying when an advertisement blocks or slows that exploratory freedom. I usually end up feeling more resentment toward whatever product is being advertised in those situations than anything else.
Kevin Valliere, 25
Kevin has used ad blockers on his laptop for two years.
Do you find other ways to support sites you like? I try to donate -- I'm in a decent spot in my life where I can afford to give to Web sites, so I definitely make an effort for the Web sites who I know rely on that ad money. In general, I've tried in the last few months to be more cognizant of which sites are showing me ads to be obtrusive versus showing me ads to support a valuable, but free, service. I like a free Internet, and if that means putting up with ads that aren't intentionally misleading or potentially damaging, then so be it.
For the majority of the time I've used ad blockers, I really didn't think at all about how I might be negatively impacting the sites I valued most. I think recently there's been more of a push for "ethical" ad blocking, if that can really exist, and I like the recognition of service that comes with that for Web sites.
Do you think there will be as many ads on the Internet in five years? I think ads may look different in five years, especially as companies start to find ways around ad blockers, but I have no doubt they'll be around. And, like I said, I'm a huge fan of a free Internet. If more small Web sites can keep existing by advertising, then I can live with that.