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Advertising Businesses Software The Almighty Buck The Media Your Rights Online

Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers 287

Press2ToContinue writes: Forging a bold step in the right direction, Stack Overflow announced today that they don't care if you use an ad blocker when you visit their site. "The truth is: we don't care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won't, but we understand that some people just don't like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance. ... Publishers can't win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people's faces. Think scantily-clad women selling flight deals, weight-loss supplement promos or wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-men promoting car dealerships." It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?
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Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers

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  • Hear hear! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @09:50AM (#51478151) Journal
    Also, too, and neither: figure out a way to separate me from the paper in my wallet without making my machine load slower.

    Write your ads in a language not quite so notorious as an infection vector.

    Good start, though.

    • Re:Hear hear! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:28PM (#51480493)

      It's definitely a good start.

      Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance.

      This is a really good point that I haven't seen other sites make. They're right about it, especially the "campaign performance". If 20% of the user base is not going to click on an ad anyway, then why bother padding the numbers to say you served ads to that additional group? Just don't serve them ads, and then your click-through rate improves because you've cut out a chunk of people who aren't going to click on them anyway. That might make the numbers for the overall ad campaign better, which may increase the rates that they can then charge for ads in the future, because they have a higher clickthrough rate.

      Therefore: allowing ad-blockers onto your site increases your advertising revenue. Suck it, Forbes.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's ads that pop up and interrupt the browsing experience.

    It's ads that masquerade as "facebook notifications" on your phone.

    It's ads that start playing a video at fucking maximum volume while you are trying to work.

    But most importantly, its ads that are made entirely out of javascript running on MY computer by another entity who has not been vetted or trusted by me. You do not need to run a program on my computer to sell me something.

    It's the ads that are for all intents and purposes, malware. Adblocking+

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To quote from a previous slashdot article on this:

      Browsing without an adblocker is like fucking without a condom.
      You should only do it with someone you really, really trust.

  • Ad icon in banner? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Does the "AD" icon in the story banner mean this story is an ad? That seems like an unprecedented level of honesty for Slashdot!

  • Advertising Bubble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @09:59AM (#51478219)

    I think the whole advertising situation will get better once the tech bubble bursts. Just look at many of the tech companies now - they are giant advertising platforms, but spend most of their revenues and investor money on user acquisition through advertising. This is like a giant ponzi scheme really.

    Google worked, and will probably keep working for some time now, because one of the main use cases for search is to find stuff you want to buy. When you go to the site and start searching for a particular product, it isn't a big deal (and sometimes is useful) when ads come up for that product or equivalents you might not have heard off. The advertising has actual value in informing you about what is available. Other sites, such as Facebook, might have more information on me, but I go there to look at pictures of my friend's dogs and kids, not when I want to find something to buy. For that reason I find their ads incredibly annoying, and despite Zuckerberg going on about how they make them relevant, he would only be true if I was some kind of consumption machine that wonders around the internet like a virtual godzilla eating up every product that is shoved in my face.

    My prediction is that eventually the industry will fall apart as companies realise the ponzi nature of current advertising prices, and that much of this expenditure is not converting in to sales. In that regard, the better tracking/conversion tools that the internet allows may be the industries own downfall.

    • Advertising ROI (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:09AM (#51478269)

      I think the whole advertising situation will get better once the tech bubble bursts.

      You seem curiously convinced that A) we are in a bubble and B) that advertising will go away or "get better". You can't really know A for certain by definition because bubbles generally can only be identified in retrospect and B will never ever happen. It's unclear what "get better" means to you but I'm pretty sure whatever it is won't happen.

      My prediction is that eventually the industry will fall apart as companies realise the ponzi nature of current advertising prices, and that much of this expenditure is not converting in to sales.

      I think you don't understand the advertising business. You think that companies are naively throwing money at advertising because they don't know any better. While there are some out there where that is true for the most part buyers of advertising understand very well the relationship between advertising dollars spent and the returns they get. It's not at all hard to get a pretty solid idea of the correlation between ad spend and revenue.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        It seems like advertising is backing away a bit, with the notable exception of the web. Ad-supported cable is dying but the no-ads premiums channels like HBO are doing well, and zero-ad subscription services like Netflix are cleaning up. The tech industry does seem to have more than it's share of advertising companies masquerading as something else. And the number of multi-billion dollar acquisitions for things like chat platforms, many that have subsequently been sold at a fraction of their purchase pri

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          It seems like advertising is backing away a bit, with the notable exception of the web. Ad-supported cable is dying but the no-ads premiums channels like HBO are doing well, and zero-ad subscription services like Netflix are cleaning up. The tech industry does seem to have more than it's share of advertising companies masquerading as something else. And the number of multi-billion dollar acquisitions for things like chat platforms, many that have subsequently been sold at a fraction of their purchase price,

          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

            When a significant number of people cut their (ad supported) cable and subscribe to Netflix (no ads), then ad supported programming is decreased. All the stuff about the channels pandering to their audience may be true, but it's irrelevant. Note that, despite the existence of Hulu (apparently, I'm in Canada) Netflix continues to expand. There is a growing market for ad-free television.

            The super bowl is a special event that happens for a few hours every year. Yes, ads for the super bowl cost a lot. But t

    • I think part of the reason is due to Google having a near monopoly in terms of search and online advertising. There's no competition to drive prices down, but even still the costs are lower for many companies than advertising with traditional media which is why so many companies will gladly line up to let Google make a substantial profit.
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:49AM (#51478543) Homepage

      they are giant advertising platforms, but spend most of their revenues and investor money on user acquisition through advertising. This is like a giant ponzi scheme really.

      That's actually a really good analogy.

      Twitter is a great example of this -- they went IPO at $28 billion freaking dollars.

      They had no business model, assets, or revenue to support that valuation. It was all hype and "ZOMG, the Twitterz". Now, fast forward, it it loses ... what, $150 million per year? How do you do that on almost $600 million in revenues?

      Tech companies have pretty much been starting out as grossly overvalued, by the end of the day when the big investors have laundered their profits, and the little guy is left holding the bag ... the stock is never worth the same again, at least not in the long run.

      The value of tech stocks relative to actual value has rarely held up. Essentially they're all over sold as ad platforms, which in the long run never actually justify the original stupid prices they fetched.

      Over the last 20 years (at least), tech companies have been a series of giant ponzi schemes of grossly overvalued companies which ultimately can't deliver on the bullshit hype.

      Honestly, I don't understand how the financial industry works if it's all wishful thinking, bad math, and funny money. Oh, wait, they make their money up front, and then pass the shit on to the next suckers in the scheme, of course.

      It just transfers money into the hands of big investors who buy in first, and leave everyone else wondering how they got fleeced. Exactly like a ponzi scheme.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Many studies have shown that much of the financial system is essentially random. It's just that everyone else is making random decisions too, so the pigeons all do their dances. There was one study that actually had monkeys pick stocks. They did as well as professional traders.

        Then there are the actual criminals, of course. Such as those who manage IPOs.

        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @11:47AM (#51478971) Homepage

          Many studies have shown that much of the financial system is essentially random

          Once set in motion, the financial system is essentially random. I will believe that.

          But, increasingly the entire premises are just a pure con job -- from valuations of stocks at IPO being magical thinking, to the expectation companies will grow 10% year over year forever, increasingly the entire financial industry sits on a foundation of complete lies and bullshit.

          The value of a company is no longer tied to its assets or revenues, but the hope that unicorn poop will create billions of dollars out of thin air, despite there being no rational reason to think that.

          WHY was Twitter ever valued at $28 billion? Unicorn poop.

    • I'm not sure you understand the simple concept of ROI. You mentioned better tracking and conversion tools and any marketing team worth their salt is using these on a daily bases. Our team can track the effects of micro changes in ad campaigns on our visitor traffic and conversion rates. As we can quantify the value of a customer, its quite easy to do the math: X more dollars in advertising results in Y more customers. Simply stated, is X less than Y times customer value.

      Obviously, this is a watered down,
      • Step back and look at the wider picture though. What sets the price of X? Why is it, say, $1 to get 1 more customer and not 1c? If all the advertisers were companies that built fridges, then the value of X would settle at a price at or below the profit on every fridge they sell. If they go any higher they will be paying people to buy fridges which is not sustainable. However, if the advertisers are companies that are trying to acquire users so that they can make money from advertising, then each time they s

    • For that reason I find their ads incredibly annoying, and despite Zuckerberg going on about how they make them relevant, he would only be true if I was some kind of consumption machine that wonders around the internet like a virtual godzilla eating up every product that is shoved in my face.

      I think this is the core problem; this is exactly what advertisers want their clients to believe - if they see it they will buy! EYEBALLS! MOAR EYEBALLS!

      Uh, no...it doesn't work like that, it never worked like that. Yet the advertisers blindly press on with more and more aggressive attempts to force people to see things they do not want, and use eyeballs as a metric of their "success". Advertisers don't have to prove that their advertising actually works to increase sales - they generally just have to spin

    • by henni16 ( 586412 )

      There are different kinds of advertising:
      On the internet you often have "Buy OUR crap. Now." ads which hope people click on them and buy stuff. But for the reasons you stated, most ads outside of search engines won't lead to direct sales that way because people rarely come to websites like Facebook looking to buy stuff *right now*.

      Another kind of ad are more about brand recognition, about getting your name out. So that people who aren't looking to buy something *right now* will either remember your name or

  • Personally I would never click ads, but even if I wanted to, the possibility of potential malware or other nefarious deeds would still stop me from clicking it.
  • by DriveDog ( 822962 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:07AM (#51478259)
    If you're complaining about me not watching ads on your site, how about showing me ads FROM your site, not a third party's; and static images and text, no video, no animation, no scripts, no multipage GIFs. Certainly never popups/unders/etc. I do NOT object to static images and text, for which I'm already paying the bandwidth to download.
    • If you're complaining about me not watching ads on your site, how about showing me ads FROM your site, not a third party's

      The infrastructure required for a high-traffic web site of media company with a number of high-traffic sites is not insignificant, and like mail servers it's often a better idea to farm it out so as to be able to focus on content.

  • How about the ones that start windows popping up all over the place? Or start playing at obnoxiously loud levels? Or the four videos that start sucking down cpu.

    And it doesn't help that I tend to pop open a few articles to read (or questions on StackExchange (disclaimer: I'm one of the moderators on Open Data [stackexchange.com])), and if a video starts playing, I'd have to look through all of my tabs and figure out which one it was to shut it down.

    And that's not the disturbing ones that seem to be tracking other sites I've

  • Worth repeating... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:30AM (#51478401)
    ...Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance. ... Publishers can't win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people's faces. ...
  • by zijus ( 754409 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:39AM (#51478459)
    FTA on SD : "it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers"

    IMO it is missing the point : intrusiveness is the problem. Overabundance is just one type of intrusiveness. Intrusive means : consuming the resources I own ( cpu, mem, disc) or that I pay for (bandwidth). Putting my very own resources at risk with the malvertising. Rendering my interface slow. But mostly : too big, too visible, too noisy, flashy. AFAIK it's one of the points fought by AdBlockPlus : Ad is not the problem, intrusive ad is. It is enough to have one single intrusive ad - the contrary of abundance - to make me install all I can (ADB+, etc file, FlashBlock, etc). Z.
  • I've been happily using Stack Overflow for a couple of years now. I've learned a lot, despite many participants often being at the school/junior professional level, thus only regurgitating the stuff from tutorials without necessarily much depth of insight or practical use experience. I've also been able to contribute some things, which seem to be helpful to a number of people.

    I never realized there were ads on the site until this article. But then again, I've had AdBlock / hosts file since before I signed

  • by sinrakin ( 782827 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:49AM (#51478547)
    It's not ads per se that are annoying, it's how they affect the browsing experience. Reading Slashdot a few seconds ago - I read one or two sentences of an article, then an image loaded and reformatted the page and the paragraph I was reading disappeared. Found it again, read half a sentence and another image loaded and it disappeared again. I don't have time to chase my article all over the screen. On other sites, I'll read half a paragraph, then it will suddenly wipe everything out (not just scroll it off the screen) while it tries to load some huge object from the network. Or half the page will come down, then stop while it hangs trying to do a DNS lookup or load a giant Flash video from some ad network that's not responding, but none of the remaining text will load while it hangs. This happens so much that I've either stopped reading some sites, or installed ad blockers on computers that I use often. I don't hate the ads - I maybe click on one or two a year - if that's enough to keep things profitable I have no objection. What's unacceptable is the way they negatively impact what I'm actually trying to do.
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:53AM (#51478575) Homepage Journal

    It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?

    I'm not sure. The number is a negative value somewhere between googolplex hypercubed and infinity...

  • Hrm.. Never knew.

  • Ads on the Web really feel like this [youtube.com].

    Now imagine that stupid ad playing multiple times on top of the TV show you're trying to watch, including the audio. That's what the Web feels like with most ads.

    Please note that I really don't mind the text-only or static image ads. But I despise the animated, dynamic, auto-playing video ads. Those things waste my bandwidth and my CPU cycles. It's also wasting the battery power of people using mobile devices.

  • by countach44 ( 790998 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @11:44AM (#51478951)
    If I see an ad for something, it had served its purpose. If a buy a Honda partly because of an ad I saw two weeks ago, but didn't click on, it still worked. Maybe the idea of measuring clicks is that clicks and ad effectiveness are well correlated... but I'm too lazy to find any studies.
  • I hope everyone uses ad blockers and squeezes ads out of existence entirely. Businesses will have to find new ways to promote themselves. For example, I like reading product reviews or getting referrals from friends. Referrals alone can scale huge for a business given the way we are all connected through facebook, google+, twitter, whatever.

    As annoying as APK's post are, he is still right, a hosts file really does work. It even blocked a some of the video ads that were inserted into a stream. For almost zer

    • the way we are all connected through facebook, google+, twitter, whatever

      If ads go away, how will Facebook/Google+/Twitter pay to operate their servers? No social network, no connectivity to build referrals.

      • I wouldn't be too sad if Facebook or twitter went away. Facebook is basically blogging and blog syndication plus chat / calendar and such. Ad-supported and super invasive. Being popular because it's popular ("everyone else is using it"). It's a one-provider system. Without facebook (you could hope) we would perhaps get a multi-provider system for social networking, event invitations and such - where you can choose different client software and providers (or perhaps operate your own server) with UI, feature

  • Stack Overflow's main value is in user-generated content. The users are the ones who write questions and answers, and rate them to filter out garbage. It's no surprise that they would rather have 20% of users block ads, than to lose that 20%. When someone comes to Stack Overflow with ads blocked, the site will still potentially gain something from that user, in the form of a question/answer/rating. Wired, on the other hand, has very little user-generated content, as far as I know. So if someone browses Wire

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