It was five, maybe six years ago now. I was in my loft on Ecclesall Road whinging to the girl I was going out with about how many fucking adverts there were on whatever website I was reading. It was shocking – you could barely see the content for all the “One Weird Tip To Shed Body Fat” and “Meet Singles In Your Area” pop-ups.
She let me happily whinge for a while, and then she walked over and quietly installed Ad-Blocker on my computer.
I couldn’t believe my luck. Ever since my early teens, I’d seen adverts as some kind of necessary evil. The way of the world. And now I was rid of them. Possibly forever.
Well, not so fast. This honeymoon period lasted for a while, but eventually businesses cottoned on, and they started a trend which continues to this day. Now, should you have the audacity to use ad-blocking software, the moment you click onto many websites, you are instantly confronted with a pop-up message – they know what you’re up to. And, buddy, you ain’t going to get away with it this time.
Except they don’t say it like that. No. They try to tug on your heart-strings. They give you this sob story about how they’re just regular Joes like you and me, and they depend on advertising income to keep their business afloat. So please disable your software. Do it for us. Weep weep.
By itself, that sort of light emotional manipulation might be easy to stomach. The bit that really sticks in my teeth, however, is the way they then try to guilt you into feeling as though you are the one doing something wrong and immoral for not wanting to be advertised to. The way they tell it, we had a deal with these businesses, and when we use ad-blocking software, we’re welching on the deal. We’re not keeping up our end of the agreement.
Here’s my response: You can cut that shit right now.
There was no agreement. It’s not our fault that you chose to operate with a rickety business model.
I’m reminded of this, from comedian Louis CK:
Of course, foreigners steal your job.
But maybe, if someone without contacts, money, or speaking the language steals your job, you’re shit.Louis CK
If the future of your business depends on shoving adverts in your users’ faces, subtly detracting from their experience, walking that fine line between pissing them off just enough to make some ad money but not so much that they give up on you…
Maybe your business deserves to go tits up. I’m not saying I want it to. I hope it doesn’t, for your sake. But if you aren’t willing to meet us halfway, and try some non-invasive, non-distracting, non-annoying way of paying your bills, I won’t lose too much sleep when it does.
There are other business models. Don’t be lazy. Find them. Create them. Most of all, don’t you dare treat your customers like criminals for not wanting to be advertised to. It’s pathetic.