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You’re killing us – one ad block at a time (Update)

You’re killing us – one ad block at a time (Update)

Free content isn’t free to produce.

http://blog.pagefair.com/2015/ad-blocking-report/

Free content isn’t free to produce.

It costs money to produce. Even at a “blog” without layers of bureaucracy.

I understand the urge to adblock. There are many big conservative websites I just won’t visit anymore because I’m bombarded with pop-ups, pop-overs, pop-unders, and click pop-ups. And then there are auto-run video ads, in a whole league of horrible all their own. Half the time, my computer freezes.

Adblockers are both a response and a cause of the problem. When fewer people view ads, the need to bombard the people who don’t use adblockers to make up the revenue increases. It’s a vicious cycle.

One way to avoid it is to put up a paywall and hope to drive revenue through a subscription model. Both of those models are of limited success, unless you are a unique media property like The Wall Street Journal.

We don’t use any of the above, and we suffer financially for that decision. We’re not part of a media conglomerate with investors and venture capital. A large percentage of our revenue comes from our relatively non-intrusive advertising.

We (I) would just like not to lose money. When you block our ads, it has a greater impact on us.

This is a serious industry problem, as AFP reports, Online ad blocking costs sites nearly $22 billion:

The use of software that blocks online ads is expected to cost websites some $21.8 billion globally in 2015, a study showed Monday.

The study, by software group Adobe and Ireland-based consultancy PageFair, found that the number of Internet users employing ad-blocking software has jumped 41 percent in the past 12 months to 198 million.

The report said that while consumers have warmed to the idea of blocking online ads, they may not realize that the practice could hurt websites which rely on ad revenue.

Those losses are expected to grow to more than $41 billion in 2016, the study said.

“It is tragic that ad block users are inadvertently inflicting multi-billion dollar losses on the very websites they most enjoy,” said PageFair chief executive Sean Blanchfield.

“With ad blocking going mobile, there’s an eminent threat that the business model that has supported the open Web for two decades is going to collapse.”

 

The Report (pdf.) has some more details, including this state-by-state comparison:

Adblocking Penetration US 2015 by State PageFair

Even more worrisome are trends damaging to websites that rely on younger readers, where ad blocking is pervasive (that’s one advantage to Legal Insurrection having a middle-aged/older audience, I guess).

A June 2015 Reuters study found:

Readers deplore online ads, particularly the personalized ones that follow them from site to site. They still don’t want to pay for news. They don’t find tablets all that exciting for reading news. And the homepage is diminishing fast, usurped by Facebook (not so much Twitter).

The biggest surprise: Using apps to block ads has gone mainstream….

Some 47 percent of US internet users now utilize ad blocking software. For 18- to 24-year-olds, that number is even higher: 55 percent. Consumers are, the study says, annoyed with “advertising and the interruption it causes to their reading experience.” Focus group participants seemed to particularly hate ads that surfaced based on browsing history. As one woman put it, “Online ads are obtrusive, obnoxious, annoying.”

Bringing ad blockers to mobile will be particularly damaging. Legal Insurrection gets approximately 40% of its traffic via mobile (25% phones, 15% tablets — i.e., iPads).

And mobile is next in line for adblocking, per the Reuters study:

In fact, 26 percent of US news consumers say that mobile phones are the main way they access news. This is both exciting—news now has its gadget, just like music found the iPod—but it is scary in some respects, too. For one, successful advertising campaigns on five-inch screens have proven difficult, and people don’t spend as much time with the content. They dip in and out. Also, ad blocking is coming soon to the mobile Web.

Multiple outlets have reported that Apple, in the next version of its iPhone and iPad software, will allow the technology in its browser. Blocking ads makes pages download faster and crash less. Once users try it, they can’t imagine ever going back. With about 500 million iPhones in hands around the world, if even a small chunk of those users fall in love with ad blocking, that’s a significant problem for advertisers and news outlets (to say nothing of Google).

None of this concern is new, and there are counterarguments, as reflected in this 2007 article on the Adblocker website:

Now what happens if people start to block ads? First of all, everybody who hates ads and wouldn’t click them anyway now blocks ads. And this can make advertisers really happy because instead of wasting their bandwidth (and money) they now only serve ads to people who are interested in them. They also get better statistics and can see which ads people find more interesting — without having to estimate the number of people who wouldn’t click any ad.

That’s nice in theory. But in reality, WE get paid based on views (and to a much lesser extent, clicks). So theory is one thing, reality is something else.

This all will cause a war between reader adblocking software and website anti-adblocking software (there are such things.)

When we addressed this problem in 2013, readers made the following suggestsions; not being an adblocker user myself, I don’t know if they still are feasible:

  • “Fellow readers, please disable your ad blocker for the sites you enjoy and frequent.”
  • “You know what? I had completely forgotten that I had installed an ad blocking program. I did it a long time ago, because when I’m doing searches, the ads became so intrusive that it was almost impossible to find the information I was looking for.

    It’s easy enough to fix… I click on the icon on the toolbar, and click on “Disable on LegalInsurrection.com”.

    Done.”

So anybody have any brilliant ideas?

[“Suck it up” is not a brilliant idea.]

UPDATE 8-13-2015 Noon:

Reader comments have been very eye-opening for me. While we cannot abandon the advertising we have, there may be a way to give readers who want to support Legal Insurrection, but don’t want to see ads, a way to do so. It would be a model that allows people to stay with the current system (including their adblock software, if that’s how they want to go), but also allows people for a small monthly fee to access the site without seeing ads. It would be purely voluntary, not a paywall. More on that, hopefully, in the next month or so.

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Comments

I’ll go all tin foil hat on you:

For some reason the ads on conservative sites (including this one) have been causing IE and sometimes chrome to crash.

Weasel Zippers and Brietbart are frequently infested with malware.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Andy. | August 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Democrat Party?

    Fen in reply to Andy. | August 11, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    I’ve seen the same thing. Instapundit and PJ media constantly freeze up, IE says “there is a problem with this site”

    Never get that when I go to Lefty sites for opposition research…

    Andy in reply to Andy. | August 11, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    If you got my envelope with the memo that Tim Geitner is a tax cheat, you know I’m good for the $.

    Set up a member$ site where content is posted first. Let it ebb to the freeloaders 48-60 hours later.

    Dunno how you address comments, but I think that’s a paid feature. SOFREP has some how over come this issue and now has a pretty sizable staff.

    Valerie in reply to Andy. | August 11, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Breitbart is next to impossible to read. Every page freezes. I am using a Mac with OSX 10.7.5, so it’s not like the software is out-of-date.

No one I know would use ad-blockers if the ads were just ads.

You can put forth a chicken and egg argument, but who would bother to block static ads like on a newspaper page? It’s the annoying in-your-face ads. And even if one site foreswore those forever, there are thousands who won’t, including many of the most popular ones.

– –

The economic problem is real. I’ve disabled AdBlock Plus for this site because I think you do deliver some value. BUT if the ads begin to be intrusive, it goes back on.

ijustwanttovote | August 11, 2015 at 6:05 pm

I will not stop using adblocker software on Legal Insurrection (or any other site) for the simple fact that significant amounts of malware, viruses and other badware are being spread and distributed through compromised ad network servers. (Doubleclick is one of the big names where this has been proven to be the case.) Since I have enjoyed the content and discussions here on LI, I have decided to become a monthly subscriber to offset any lost revenues caused by my use of adblocking software. Because the internet adverstising industry has proven unable to police itself with regard to the software that it places on unsuspecting users’ computers, more and more people are using adblock software. Website publishers would do well to end their contracts with ad delivery networks and sell and host their own ads, which they can then certify as malware-free. Until there is a paradigm shift in the behavior of advertisers on the internet as a whole, I (and I suspect may others) will continue to use adblock software for the foreseeable future. I appreciate the good work done by all of the writers and journalists here at LI, and I hope that they all understand that I want to support them, but I will not willingly offer my computing resources up for compromise.

Breitbart is exactly that, buggy and mally too. OTOH: LI has good stuff on it, plus our charming leader, Professor Jacobson. Still, that display of “enticing photos and captions” at the bottom of an LI article is kind of off putting, so I ignore that. However, willing to take one for the team and click on one of those semi-disgusting photo captions if that means LI is here to stay. A little guidance here, Chief!

However, how does Instapundit do it? Yeah, I know, volume, volume, volume. Wouldn’t an LIlanche be wonderful thing to behold?

And, does PL’s VIP thingy keep it afloat? Just wondering!

    Breitbart has gotten so bad that it is almost unusable. Especially annoying are the loud autoplay videos, which play regardless of how I try to block them.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to Doug Wright Old Grouchy. | August 11, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Agree on that below the post ad unit. It was supposed to have been changed. I’ll look into it again.

      It’s really gross, especially on an iPad. It takes up one to two full screens to scroll down past all the boobs and bums and pictures of yeast infections and such, and they’re so slow loading that they’re easy to accidentally click on, because you think you’re clicking on something else and then the whole screen shifts as more and more of them load. I do have adblocking for my iPad, but I specifically whitelisted LI in the interest of not cheating you of revenue… but my gosh, it’s super-gross and super-annoying. To the point where, if I had the option of paying $5-$10 a month for a “premium” ad-free version of LI, I’d be on that in a flash.

I use ad-blocker, and routinely keep my volume off (for autoplay ads and vids). But I have also kicked in $ to this site’s funding because it matters. If ads were unobtrusive and autoplay could stay off by default I’d be more sympathetic.

Midwest Rhino | August 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

yeah, I have a marginal connection so use adblock, but have it disabled here. I also block some scripts with NoScript since they can be invasive, but I’m not sure if that influences click counts. I don’t remember getting any malware warnings here, even with all scripts allowed.

But there are like 40 scripts to allow here on LI, so I wonder why ads need to have so many scripts probing my hard drive. They maybe pay more, but get blocked more?

I don’t mind the simple ads with a link to click, but “don’t probe me bro!” 🙂

Phillep Harding | August 11, 2015 at 6:17 pm

I’m still PO’d at the Honda “house cat” type ad I ran into while trying to read an online news paper. No way to get rid of the blasted thing, and it sat right on top of the article I was trying to read.

The people who benifit from the advertisement need be held responsible for intrusive advertising instead of trying to walk by disclaiming any control over the ads.

They control the purse strings, they have ultimate control.

Sorry but this is where I draw the line. I no longer visit Powerline because they were spamming me with 2-3 popups every visit. Plus the malware risk.

I agree you can’t do this for free, but pop-ups are not the answer.

1. I don’t use an ad blocker, although I do use a pop up blocker. It seems to work.

2. As far as any site, I would REALLY REALLY REALLY like to know, which ads you the site owner actually receive payment for. I get the distinct impression some of them are just hobos jumping on the train and you get nothing for them.

3. I would like to know how much you need on average from each reader to break even. I’m a cheapskate from way back, but I’ll sign up now to be a subscriber. But if I sign up for $6 a month, does that pull my own weight? I have no idea.

Thanks for all you do!

Also:

4. How much would each of your average readers need to contribute each month or each year so the site could go completely AD FREE?????

    Maybe he could offer a “premium” ad-free LI package for those willing to pony up, the way a lot of apps do? I have no idea how hard that would be to accomplish from a technical standpoint, or how much he’d need to be reimbursed to make up for the lost ad revenue, though.

    great unknown in reply to CloseTheFed. | August 11, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    I agree; while I contribute to the regular fundraising events for LI, I would be more comfortable, from an ethical POV, with a flat-rate subscription plan. I would hope that the subscription plan would adequately cover expenses and not become a profit center.

    After that, my regular contributions would be a concept of a tip, to express appreciation for service rendered.

    BTW, regarding the attacks on Power Line here, I agree. My ad-blocker is adequate to prevent junk from coming across, but at the cost of a 75% freeze-and-reboot rate.
    However, they do offer an ad-free option with a subscription. I am currently auditing my use of that site to see if it is worth it for me.

    Extending to another venue – if you want an ad-free Solitaire on Windows 10, it will cost you about two dollars a month.

Scrolling through the ads on this page, it doesn’t look like any of them have been blocked, so this is somewhat theoretical, but one solution is for advertisers to police the ad sites they use, or for ad sites to police the advertisers. I like ads. I have followed at least one web site that was literally nothing but video ads (it went out of business because it was too popular, ironically enough; I don’t remember the name off-hand, but it was where I first saw the TDA Advertising and Design hooker ad).

I’ve subscribed to magazines mainly for the ads, because I happen to enjoy the products sold around that topic.

But when ads get annoying, I turn them off. When radio ads are annoying, I turn on my own music instead. This happens a lot in the car. I don’t watch much television, but when I do, if an ad is annoying, I at the very least turn the sound off and read until the movie comes back on, and often rethink whether I want to keep watching this movie or watch one of my own or on Netflix.

You might say, hey, you’ll remember that annoying ad. Which is true. But I won’t remember the ad that followed it.

The same is true of online ads. An ad has to be really annoying before I start trying to figure out what domain to add to the blacklist and remembering how to add it. And it doesn’t matter if the the rest of the ads delivered by that site are respectful and non-annoying, because just as I don’t like to take the time to add to the list, I pretty much never go through it looking for domains to take off the list.

The solution, in my case, is for advertisers to (a) not proliferate windows on the page, and (b) avoid grossness, especially combined with motion (fortunately, either those weight-loss ads have gone away or I’ve added the servers that serve them to the blacklist). Also, avoid Flash. It’s so often used poorly that I have a blocker specifically for Flash; it allows me to turn on individual Flash ads if I want to watch it, which I have done, but if the entire ad is delivered in Flash, I won’t know it’s useful enough to turn on.

And advertisers should hold ad servers to the fire, too, to disallow ads that cause people to block them.

How about an adware service that is, and is contractually obligated, to follow all the ethical guidelines we want? No auto-play audio/video. No pop-ups. No tracking. Etc.

I cannot afford to risk malware. I will accept the demise of a website before I will expose myself to malware that may cause me to lose vital data and will certainly cost me time that I cannot afford.

I’m more concerned with the scripts asking to run on my computer from this (and other) sites. Sorry Professor, but I block most of them, too, especially google-analytics.

Ad Agencies have fouled their own nests. They have made the web unusable without an ad blocker. They deserve, and will receive, no sympathy.

The ad blockers mostly use domain name to block content. Host your ads from your own domain. The ad buyer would then have to trust you on the number of views. Oh the horror.

Pages that pull content from 40 different sites, running crazy java scripts to compound the complexity and nonsense is just too ridiculous not to use some blocking tool.

I’ve switched to using RSSOwl as the starting point for my blog reading.

I really, really hate those ads that start playing and I can’t shut them off. I really, really hate some of those ads that show up on this site between the article and the comments. That one for yoga pants is obscene. I would be interested to know what you need from your regular viewers to stay afloat.

I don’t block ads, but I avoid news sites because they crash my browser. This one is no exception. It crashes my Kindle. I simply stay away.

Marco Arment says it well:

…All of that tracking and data collection is done without your knowledge, and — critically — without your consent. Because of how the web and web browsers work, the involuntary data collection starts if you simply follow a link. There’s no opportunity for disclosure, negotiation, or reconsideration. By following any link, you unwittingly opt into whatever the target site, and any number of embedded scripts from other sites and tracking networks, wants to collect, track, analyze, and sell about you.

That’s why the implied-contract theory is invalid: people aren’t agreeing to write a blank check and give up reasonable expectations of privacy by clicking a link. They can’t even know what the cost of visiting a page will be until they’ve already visited it and paid the price.

Ad blocking stops the various people out there from tracking me as I go from site to site. I’m not paranoid but I don’t feel obligated to let people follow me around. In essence, I’m the one being bought and sold, and I don’t appreciate it.

And I REALLY don’t appreciate auto-play ads with a loud soundtrack.

I too have donated to LI, and if the good Professor puts up another bleg I’ll be happy to do so again. I’m a moderator at Rantburg, I know the kind of money that is required to make a modest blog work.

This is probably the only site I would actually pay for full access. I don’t know of a better idea.

Firefox.
Click Open Menu at right.
Select Options.
Select Content tab from vertical menu at left.
Click Exceptions to the right of Pop-ups (assuming Block pop-up windows is checked).
Enter legalInsurrection.com into the box.
Click Allow.
Click Save Changes.

I worked for a top-4 search engine company, and have built and monetized a business within that company that relied on ad revenue from multiple “content” sites. If you want some free advice, go ahead and email me (you have my email from my registration and use my email address to figure out how to look me up on LinkedIn). Your site currently relies on display advertising, and that will limit your ability to monetize the site (I can probably guess what your click-through rates on ads must be – maybe 0.3% – so your ad rates are also very low). I agree with a lot of other comments that Conservative sites are being targeted with malware. It’s a problem, but there are other ways to monetize.

Freddie Sykes | August 11, 2015 at 7:42 pm

When I am ready to buy at Amazon, I go to a site that let’s me click directly to Amazon Home Page or Deals of the Day and finish making my purchase. I find your Amazon button of less use. Sorry.

Darth Chocolate | August 11, 2015 at 7:48 pm

I have Yahoo mail, and every time an ad shows up, I mark it as “offensive” – I do not care what it is. Give those SJWs a taste of their own medicine.

My beef is that if I do a search for a business trip I need to take, I start getting ads from airlines for that destination. I do not like “Big Brother” knowing my every move.

This is annoying when say, I go shopping for a gift for my wife on Amazon and when I am done, there are ads on the common computer from Amazon showing what I recently searched for. So much for a surprise.

And the companies who supposedly allow you to “opt out” do not abide by their own rules. So I will make my own.

I will not submit to the thugs at Mozilla – so they are not an option. And Chrome is worse – it directly feeds the ad machine.

I will use ad blockers but certainly pay a small price to access content.

Ok, Professor,

I had Adblock, which would not allow me to be selective. I installed Adblock+, and yours is the ONLY website I’m letting through.

‘Cause you asked nicely.

If an ad gets through my adblock or annoys me, I will NEVER buy that product.

Here’s an idea. I will tolerate ads if in every one there is a questionnaire.

What do you think of this ad?
1. I might buy your product.
2. I’ll buy your product.
3. I’ll never buy your product because it popped up to cover the article I was reading.
4 It’s noisy and annoying so I’ve made a note to NEVER buy your product

Adblock+ allows me to selectively remove the tasteless collection of ads below the post.

For the time being I just disabled Adblock plus for this site again because you asked nicely.

50% of what makes this site work are the commenters. They provide a lot of content at no cost so you have that going for you.

One would think that professional marketing people would understand that intrusive and abusive advertising is the reason their ads are blocked. Make informative honest interesting ads and they will not only not piss people off they might actually sell a product.

The advert’s on here are vulgar but they’re not intrusive like pop-ups. The worst site for disgusting ad’s right now that I use is FindAGrave.com . Ever since Ancestry.com took them over it’s like an invasion! I’ve quit using the site because of all the blinking, flashing and trying to crash my computer. I never used to feel this way but I hate advertisers now. If I see an adv I won’t buy it.

Mostly I use an iPad to browse. For several months, this site was either inaccessible (something would trigger the Apple AppStore) or so danged slow. Ther are n ad blocks on an iPad, and that can make for hellish browsing.

I have nothing really to add here. I don’t have adblock on my smartphone yet and the browsing experience is completely different from on my computer. The pop ups and constant redirects are infuriating. There are some sites I just won’t go to on my mobile device because I can’t even look at it for 3 seconds before it redirects to some google play page or advertisement page.

It really is obnoxious being FORCED to view something I don’t want to. It’s the equivalent of having my face forcefully shoved into a big fresh stinking cowpie.

Anyway, I suppose adblock can make an exception for LI. But as another commentator pointed out, a lot of these ads contain malware, which compromises the security of our computers and devices.

There’s got to be a way to support LI and help keep it going without having to expose ourselves to that kind of risk.

    I despise Flash and dynamic ads, which when many windows are open suck up resources to the point it crashes my computer (which is an I7). I allow static ads, but nothing dynamic.

    Ads need to be similar to the junk mail experience, where we old look at something of interest and toss the rest.

    Junk email also contributes to a general intolerance towards advertising. Currently I waste about an hour a day blacklisting and deleting junk email. When I receive junk email I often blacklist the domain, not just one address.

    The reason that people are blocking ads is a general abuse by many players.

    I have a number of web sites with no advertising. I fund them with contributions from wealthy private donors. You might consider that and a 501(C)3 as a way pay for your site.

      gibbie in reply to rjriley5000. | August 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

      “I despise Flash and dynamic ads”

      FlashBlock totally takes care of Flash, but not animated GIFs. For the latter, selectively block the particular ad purveyor using AdBlock+.

      For SPAM, find an email provider with good SPAM control. I get hardly any of it.

It’s a trend that’s not going to change with plaintive appeals and begging though.

As long as ads are intrusive and annoying, they will get blocked.

As long as ads are unobtrusive and background, those paying for them will feel like they aren’t getting their moneys worth.

It’s going to sort out eventually, and blogs are going to have to adapt to whatever the answer is. May end up having to move to a patron-type system, I dunno.

Okay. I’ve disabled Adblock on your site.

But if I start seeing videos that play all by themselves all bets are off.

Professor,

The latest adblock-plus has a mode to allow ads. You might want to review their criteria. They claim that they’re in contact with advertisers who want to produce non-intrusive ads.

Most of your ads come through. Here is what it’s currently blocking on this page:
-http://a.intgr.net/tags/29_9.js
-http://aax-us-east.amazon-adsystem.com/x/getad?
-http://c.amazon-adsystem.com/aax2/amzn_ads.js
-http://cache.blogads.com/303433828/feed.css
-http://cache.blogads.com/303433828/feed.js
-http://cache.blogads.com/725600518/feed.js
-http://edge.quantserve.com/quant.js
-http://seg.sharethis.com/getSegment.php?
-http://www.statcounter.com/counter/counter_xhtml.js
-https://static.doubleclick.net/instream/ad_status.js
-https://www.paypal.com/en_US/i/scr/pixel.gif

Fair enough, I’ve disabled adblocker on this URL. But as JohnC said, if I start seeing auto-play videos with sound, or those annoying seizure-inducing flashing ads, I’ll be putting it back on.

I’m fine with ads. I draw the line at intrusive ads that actively detract from my experience on the site.

Throw as many ads into my face as you want but I still won’t click them. Sorry. Whether or not I’m running an adblocker doesn’t matter I still won’t click them, unless they really really interest me.

In the last TEN years I’ve intentionally clicked maybe 5 (twice as many because I didn’t realize they were ads) and wasn’t satisfied with any of them. And those “fake” ads just make me even more cynical about clicking anything..

I don’t use Ad-Blocking software (yet), but I will echo the comments of individuals who dislike the auto-play videos and loud soundtracks.

I basically can’t go to CNN.com anymore because every news story auto-plays an attached video.

The poorly written script-intensive ads are a disaster. If you have any control over what gets shown Professor, get rid of those FIRST. If the script wasn’t slap-dashed together so poorly that it’s not fault-tolerant, and instead crashes the browser, that is the fastest ticket to causing people to ad-block. The content is worse than worthless if it can’t be READ because the ads crash the site.

As for malware delivery (which is regularly attempted), I’m running Norton Anti-virus, which does a good job at blocking installation of malware. Unfortunately it also does not play well with a certain number of other programs that I have to use on a daily basis.

I am excepting LI from AdBloc. In return I expect LI to reject ads that autoplay video and sound or redirects. You should also protect your visitors from malware.

As an IT Security professional I tend to block ads. I also have the flash video turned off. I know this hurts ad revenue but there are ad purveyors that don’t do a good job of preventing malware from being spewed by their service. During the World Cup tone of people got infected that way. It takes me an inordinate amount of time to clean up a PC that’s been breached. I have multiple tools installed and still my kids sometimes manage to get something by.

I also keep flash turned off, just because when at work we can access news and blogs, for now, but that won’t continue if when people come onto sites, a loud video about “natural male enhancement” starts playing at 4 times the volume I have set.

Prof you’ve got to know you are tilting at windmills. I’ve wondered why LI and others don’t offer a VIP access that sells access to content without ad bombardment. I kind of thought that was the implied strategy as the ads became more intrusive. I don’t block ads, but I block flash. And your site faithfully pitches me to to buy more of what I just recently shopped at amazon and elsewhere. And I do click the ads at your page from time to time, assuming that it helps LI.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to Mark30339. | August 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    That’s something we’re looking into, a model that allows people to stay with the current system (including their adblock software, if that’s how they want to go), but also allows people for a small monthly fee to access the site without seeing ads.

      I hope you are also including “Promoted Content from the Web” in that advertising we would not see if we pay. I have AdBlock running and Flash turned off but I see more ads on this site than any other, and these Promoted Content ads are beyond disgusting. They have ruined my enjoyment of the site.

      The problem with mosts online ads is that tend to be come ons and scams, with objectionable pictures designed purely to appeal to people’s lowest instincts (or morbid curiosity). And of course, full of malware!

      Furthermore, if people stop using ad blockers but also stop visiting certain websites that are abusive, who is that helping?

      I’d be happy to pay a small fee here to see no ads!

    Canusee in reply to Mark30339. | August 17, 2015 at 5:59 am

    For the phones consider a different browser. DuckDuckGo has an actual browser but don’t know if only for iphone. Icab is really good and super easy to use.It is also fun because you can set just about everything up to run according to your habits. Ghostery has a browser for phones but I don’t find it user friendly.

    I find I do not need adblock as much when I use a desktop/laptop browser like Chrome/Chromium/Firefox and addon Ghostery. Most try this and find it does not work because they do not understand it. The first few days you have to click the icon on new pages and then turn off all the stuff listed and refresh page. Once a tracker is blocked it always is on every site from then on. This is the one thing that has really sped up pages loading.

Agree with everyone that says DEATH TO POPUPS AND AUTO-PLAY!!!!!111!!1!!!ONE!!!!! They need to die in a fire.

I actually stopped coming to this site for some time because of them.

If you want a support model, try Patreon or some other crowd funding that doesn’t necessarily take the main site off, but offers a few perks like no adds/extra content.

Also, I wouldn’t mind the ads so much if they took themselves seriously. Just on this comment page all I see are dumb*ss Buzzfeed-style sensationalist claptrap. I ignore those sort of headlines on general principle.

I have a monthly automatic donation to LI set up on PayPal. My ad blocker software will stay in place. I suggest that all LI users use the same system of paying for content that we all use and love to argue about.

The primary reason I used an ad blocker was to defeat the auto-play video ads. I just added a Firefox plug-in called “Flash Control”. Now I have control of the sites I allow flash to play or not. I disabled my ad blocker on LI.

I can use my computer at work to browse. An outdated browser, of course- the IT department insists. And an adblocker. That fights continuously with ads, particularly from enginefordisplay.com. Enginefordisplay usually wins, after locking up the display for 5 minutes.

I don’t mind ads displayed on pages I’m looking at. They’re no more intrusive then ads on a newspaper page. Pop-ups and pop-unders are a whole different matter. I hate them with a passion. Especially the ones that when you “X” then out pop up “Are you sure you want to leave this page?”, which every security advisor tells you NEVER TO CLICK, requiring you to ctrl-alt-del out of it. Which usually crashes the browser, requiring you to open everything again.

There are some sites I don’t go to anymore because I know my screen will freeze up. For a while, it was happening here. But it’s gotten better at LI.

At home, my chromebook blocks most pop-ups and -unders, but mysteriously some open up in a new tab.

    peg_c in reply to gospace. | August 15, 2015 at 7:08 am

    It used to be the sports and entertainment sites that were the worst, and they’re still terrible, but some conservative sites have gotten so bad I no longer visit, and I’m going to name 2: Washington Times and Eagle Rising. There are other and popular ones I like but rarely visit because of popups, pop-unders, redirects, etc. Ad and popup blockers do NOT stop all those; the site designers have found ways around them. And when it comes to Facebook, I owe them zero because they buy and sell my personal info. I use FaceBook Purity to eliminate ALL ads there. I wish the Purity folks wrote something better than AdBlock which too often isn’t up to the task anymore.

I also block ads for the reasons stated by other posters, though I view the non-animated click-bait ones.

As for charging to view ad-free versions of the site: oh, please. This is a nice website but I also visit dozens of other sites, and I’m not about to subscribe to them all, just as I’m not about to subscribe to all the news sites that tell me that I’ve exceeded my 6 Free Views and have to pay to view any more articles this month.

Charging people to access your site ups your responsibilities. You’ll need to post more frequent and substantive content, edit it (e.g., make Mr. Branca learn the difference between “it’s” and “its”), etc.

I can never understand why people start a blog, disseminate their opinions and enjoy the bump in reputation they get as a result, and then start asking for money to continue their self-promotional activities.

    Hal Jordan in reply to Sopra. | August 12, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    True as well as brutally honest.

    Adblock with Google Chrome blocked thirteen ads here, but there were still seven visible at the upper right of the page and a dozen of them below the article. It doesn’t make sense to throw 32 ads at the reader and then wonder why he uses an ad blocker.

    Another consideration is that there are some people who access the web through cable companies, and they have a data cap. If they load too many gigabytes during the month then they start getting charged extra. Ad blockers are essential for those folks, who can honestly say “you’re killing US” when it comes to too many ads.

    Lady Penguin in reply to Sopra. | August 15, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Just want to say something in defense of Mr. Branca, or actually respond to this entire segment of your comment:

    “Charging people to access your site ups your responsibilities. You’ll need to post more frequent and substantive content, edit it (e.g., make Mr. Branca learn the difference between “it’s” and “its”), etc.

    I can never understand why people start a blog, disseminate their opinions and enjoy the bump in reputation they get as a result, and then start asking for money to continue their self-promotional activities.”

    Someone replied to you as “true, though brutal.” I’m going to say harsh, rude and unjustified. No one has to be perfect, and every individual who writes or comments here have something to offer. Most of us read LI because the content is insightful, informative and we feel connected to the worldview and belief system of those who share their knowledge and expertise.

    I’m just saying, don’t make being perfect the enemy of good. It’s nice to think we can be human.

Joseph Constable | August 12, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Could you say something like If x number of people would just send in $x then we would be ok.

I have no idea how much to sent. If $5 a year wouldn’t help then I don’t want to waste the $5.

I gave $100 to Wikipedia this year. This is going to be the way it has to go. People have to send in money.

I never ever have clicked on an ad after the first time and I got a virus. This was years ago. I don’t understand how ads not clicked on can help you.

Charitable orgs use a thermometer with the goal in dollars at the top and the mercury rising as money comes in. This is good. It gives people a chance to evaluate their particular circumstance with how the campaign is going.

It’s probably worth talking revenue & cost here too. You have to look at how much revenue each page load is generating with ads, and what each placement is worth. Since the ad content on LI has gone up over time one is left with the impression that LI’s costs to host have gone up too.

Since ads are measured in cost per impression, we have to estimate how many different ad slots and CPM rates (cost per thousand) that an advertiser pays, and then discount the % that the ad service provider takes (probably about half). Let’s say LI has 4 different ad slots and that the combined CPM for all four slots is $10, and LI gets half of that. Thus for every page load with ads, LI generates about $0.005.

If you a frequent LI visitor and load 20 pages a day, 30 days a month, that’s about $3/month in ad revenue. So, for an individual user, thats about your “cost” to LI in revenue opportunity if you ad block.

Quantcast.com estimates LI’s page views at 1,302,540/month so if it pulled down $0.005 for each of those, LI is receiving about $6,500 a month in revenue. Its a lot harder to guess at LI’s hosting costs, but LI clearly pays for a hosting site and site maintainer and its not unreasonable to guess at a $5K/month hosting cost, leaving the remainder for other types of incidental costs (of which I’m sure there are many).

If LI was subscription driven, 1,300 people would have to sign up at $5/month to provide the same funding levels that I’m guessing at. Interestingly enough, Quantcast estimates that 365,000 people visit LI every month, so that would represent a conversion rate of 0.35% (which is in the ballpark for some freemium content models).

The largest demographic in each category Quantcast shows for LI is White Male, Graduate School, age 55-64, Republican, politically active, and with an annual income of over $150,000. The <1% addicts drive 15% of the visits, the 28% regulars drive 51% of the visits, and the 72% "passers by" drive 34% of the visits.

So, let's assume the LI addicts are 0.5% or 1,820 which would represent the POTENTIAL subscriber pool, of which 1,300 would need to subscribe to meet the guesstimate ad-free maintenance rate. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the ability to sign up 71% of the LI addicts as paid subscribers– but it may be possible.

It does make one wonder if a subscriber driven comment model may work out, but I'm not confident that there's enough of a network effect (positive behavioral feedback effect) on just article commentary.

I'm still thinking about it!

    William A. Jacobson in reply to Zhinlo. | August 13, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Without commenting on the math, we are looking into some alternatives to give readers who want to support Legal Insurrection but don’t want to see ads the opportunity to do so. More to come on that.

EFF ( https://www.eff.org/privacybadger ) has released Privacy Badger which will put and end to the trackers which is what ends up generating all the targeted adds.

The big problem with a subscription type of site is that will require a password and user ID. The user ID/password is probably more irritating than the adds.

The adds etc make smartphone browsing near useless.

I have disabled AdBlock for you, and will give it a go on this site. I recently got a new computer, on which I hadn’t put an ad blocker yet. I was shocked at how nearly impossible it was to do what I usually do because of all the popups and ads that covered up what I was trying to read.

It reminded me of one of my early jobs, as a shuttle bus driver for a power company. I spent a lot of time on the freeway, driving between distant offices of the power company, keeping extra pool cars off the road.

Every now and then a person transporting a mattress would have it come undone from the vehicle and go flying until it landed squarely across another car’s windshield.

All of those really pushy ads made me feel like I suddenly had a mattress across the windshield.

I understand why Adblock is bad but the $22 billion in lost revenue reminds me of the music and movie industry claiming piracy “costed” them however many billions When a single $15 movie is downloaded illegally, the big studios consider that a loss of $15 in revenue, but it isn’t, because that assumes that the downloaded would have purchased it for $15 otherwise, which most of the time they wouldn’t have. I would submit the same could apply to Adblock, in that any given ad that was blocked does not imply that the offending user would have otherwise viewed the ad.

Sorry, I tried disabling adblock for this site, and the load time at least tripled. As it is the load time is mildly annoying; without adblock every page load would completely freeze my computer for 30-60 seconds, and sometimes more. No thank you.

Privacy Badger is listing 19 potential trackers on just this page alone.

One answer for website operators would be to block content when an ad blocker is detected?

In any case, our internet access is mostly via a mobile hotspot. Although this provides us with a reasonably high-bandwidth connection, we pay for every megabyte. Most of the sites we like are text-heavy, and thus don’t cost us much to access. But as ads have increasingly become bandwidth-hogs, we felt we really had little choice but to block them (and to avoid those sites where blocking is not effective).

I suppose we’re not typical users, but, we’re just not going to pay to have high-bandwidth ads sent to us.

Perhaps the ultimate solution to monetization will be bundling? Although few users are willing to pay a subscription fee to access any single website, perhaps more would be willing to pay to access a big bundle of them (with the sites then dividing revenues proportional to subscribers’ usage)? Although I suppose there would have to be some way to prevent sites from jacking up their pageviews with bots or something).

    You must also enjoy the multi-megabytes of JavaScript, accompanying a few kilobytes of text, which have become a feature of almost all websites.

    One solution to this is reading posts via an RSS reader. Sadly, this contributes no income to the site, and doesn’t work at LI any more.

A couple of observations –

A lot of people put in adblockers to avoid prurient content. Of course, we all have different definitions of prurient.

A problem I have, which it does not solve, is the enormous toll of these hosting platforms on the system. I had to avoid pulling up another site I like, as it destroys the system I work on, seemingly even after I close it. (I read this stuff at work during lunch.)

FWIW, I use Chrome, and no ad blocker, and have no problems with this site, as is. I would say, do what you need to do to make things work, and let readers make accommodations as they see fit.

Re: The Professors update of 8-13-2015 Noon

Most of the good Android apps come in 2 versions, with or without adds. The ones without adds are free or less than a dollar cost while the add-free versions are paid. This works with apps as the cost is minimal to be add-free and adds on a phone are a disaster as they make the site useless.

Ad blocking doesn’t coat any site anything. That revenue doesn’t exist. It only exists if the user allows it to exist; lots of us don’t. This isn’t 20th century media – there are no more captive audiences. I don’t go online to look at spam. No offense, but there’s too much info out there to worry whether or not you go offline or use a paywall. If you can’t handle it, you still have your day job.

Long-time reader. Signed up to comment just to reply to this post.

I use an ad-blocker but generally turn it off for sites that I trust, care about, or read on a regular basis.

I tried turning it off for Legal Insurrection and auto-redirect ads made the site basically unusable. (IIRC, this is also why it’s basically unusable on my iPhone, though it’s been so long since I tried to read it there that the situation might have improved. HotAir.com has the same problem from time to time.) Surprised to hear from another commenter above that he/she hasn’t had major usability problems without ad-blocking, since Chrome is the same browser I use. I’ll give it another whirl; maybe the ads have been downgraded from unlivable to merely obnoxious.

I don’t believe that any reader has an obligation to download ads along with the content, any more than they have an obligation to look at the ads that come in a newspaper rather than pitching them directly into the recycle bin on the way home. That said, I would gladly do it out of goodwill if it were possible to enable them and still use the site. Surely there are ad networks you can use that don’t engage in this kind of reader abuse? Pop-overs, pop-unders, auto-play videos, fine – but no redirects that require me to try to click open all the article links in the ~2 seconds before they kick in and LI is replaced by RealEstateDeals4U.biz (or whatever).

I “think” we have some protections on this my desktop, but it isn’t AdBlocker, it does seem to block the pop-up ads and autoplay ones, at least here at LI. OTOH, I almost can never visit Breitbart because of the loading of their aids makes it impossible for my computer to finally load the page and let me read, plus it continues to interfere when I just want to go to another page or comments.

We’ve been talking about adding Adblocker. I’ll make sure to exclude that from happening with LI.

Some of us send a few dollars at least once a year to our favorite sites, would continue to do so here, but there are numerous sites where it isn’t worth it to me to pay to read.

After canceling our Leftist local paper in 2008, we are able to get the WSJ delivered. I can’t stand reading a newspaper online.

Eventually, perhaps, hopefully, some of what went online will return to offline. “Browsing and grazing” on the ‘net doesn’t bring the in depth and absorption that books and paper bring. (OK, maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part.)

    CloseTheFed in reply to Lady Penguin. | August 17, 2015 at 11:43 am

    For Breitbart, I decided to uninstall Adobe’s Flash Player. That helped alot. Sometimes it inconveniences me, but I do it anyway.

Honestly, it was this site that motivated me to install an adblocker. Visiting the unblocked site crashed my system. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. If I have to reduce the protection to access a feature, I then have to leave the site and clear my cache. Or guess what? Yep, my system crashes.

Presuming that LI has complete control of who/what advertises on your site, you should be able to specify to your advertisers that only static ads (no video) will be allowed, and segregate those ads to a particular place on the page, the right sidebar, for instance.

I also think the “bundling” idea put forward by Albigensian has merit, if you can craft affiliation deals with other sites. I would definitely pay a fee for a “bundle” of sites that bring interesting/valued (to me) content.

I use Ghostery, and it informs me that it’s blocking 11 ads at this time.

    raynman in reply to Ward Gerlach. | August 23, 2015 at 2:38 am

    I use Ghostery as well but reading the dropdown suggests 5 ads and 6 trackers. Some sites (Daily Mail, for example) used to show as many as 90+ trackers or ads. They got to be practically unloadable and I’ve got a huge amount of bandwidth available.

    I also use Adblocker as a default. Sorry. The internet crapped its own pants on that one. Autoloading and autoplaying videos announced the death knell of my tolerance (I’m a studier of business so I tend to be fairly accepting of things I understand as having a business purpose).

If it were a gif or two, ads would be no problem. But of course, website owners decide they will just turn the entire ad process over to someone else, and then THOSE companies decide what was a 2 second page load time should become a 15 second page load time.

And so, I respond by blocking all ads. If website owners would only partner with ad providers that displayed a banner or two, then no problem. But as it is, accepting ads anymore means I’m eventually going to get malware….no thanks.

Have a status bar/thermometer on the side per month of what you need – say $2000 that is not covered by ads and people like myself who come to your site on rare occasions will pony up maybe $10 to read the content for the time I’m on and then leave. You’ll have the benefit of the tip jar income and the advertising. What people like to see is how you’re doing and how they can help you meet your goals per month but keep it reasonable. We don’t like being gouged as we know you’re getting it on the flip side w/the advertisers. – Just a thought.

Just saw your update. Sounds good.

It’s all the fault of the absolute crapware that is Adobe Flash. It utterly hobbles my browser. Some sites I’d visit would take 5 minutes to load.

You should work with your blogging colleagues to force advertisers to stop using Flash.

Frankly, the entire internet should be purged of that crap software.

The Friendly Grizzly | August 18, 2015 at 11:39 am

LI and CI are a pleasure compared to others; I come by here fairly often. However, virtually all sites brought this ad blocking trend on themselves. It was fine when you had a few ads, and I understood the reason for their existence. Then like network television, you abused us, and we fought back.

The sites that went into a spiral of decline is the Breitbart series. Within a month or so of Andrew’s “heart attack”, the site became a cluttered mess that was hard to load. This is not to mention the “improved” layout that is a mess.

A site I just recently walked away from is Weasel Zippers. I have NO idea what sort of scripts and other nonsense they were running, but the result was crashing browsers, and often a crashed computer or smartphone. Many of the commment-makers there urged I install several of many assorted blockers and monitors. Nonsense. I just left the site; I don’t have the patience for such nonsense, nor so I want to spend time keeping these browser add-ons up to date.

Auto-start videos in ads, those ads that judder and shake, or link after link after link for steroid replacements, you’re-stupid-if-you-don’t-know-this-insurance-trick, and the latest diet supplement… they are all old and stale. Just how many click-throughs do you get from ads that have run for years? And, why are there so many that we have to scroll down, often the equivalent of 3 screens, just to get past these same old ads, to get to the comments?

I like the idea of bundled subscriptions and I would gladly pay to have faster page-loads and not look at radar guns, babies with puppies, or steroid-muscled dudes with badly photoshopped beards.

I like the update idea! Honestly, I simply CANNOT tell you HOW MUCH I DESPISE, DESPISE, DESPISE the cheesecake ads I have to pass to get to the comment section. I HATE IT,
There, have I made myself clear? : )

wordpress ad injections are too good a vector for me to trust.
you run security audits on your ad server?

For those with “Flash ad” issues…I do…use FlashBlock if you want to keep flash on your system. I have to, for some apps.

As for AdBlock, apparently there was a need that needed a solution. Ads have been increasingly intrusive. Especially those dancing or finger-pointing ones. So on goes the block and all websites “suffer” as a result.

I’ll click on ads just to give a click for the site. Or I’ll do some shopping via an affiliate link for a site.

But go butt-ugly with ads? Not only will I not do those things, I’ll end up at some other site

Intrusive ads are like Comment Trolls. You block and/or ignore them.

How about setting up a Patreon account? That way, you can rely on voluntary donations from users. Lots of podcasts use that model–keeps it free for most users, but allows loyal fans to make donations.

I’m not turning off my adblocker for this site or anyone else. Sites that can’t be used with an adblocker (PowerLine Blog, for one), I just don’t visit any more.

I don’t mind the ads in the margins or the feed as long as they’re unobtrusive. I do mind pop-ups, pop-unders, auto-play video, and annoying attention-grabbing gifs. I do see ads on your site so I assume someone is keeping them tame, which is fine by me.

I stopped reading Townhall and HotAir completely on account of their ads. I never visit any Breitbart sites for the same reason.

But when a large number of websites consistently hang or crash because there are 15 concurrent Flash ad-movies playing, 6 tracking scripts, 3 overlays and a fake column on both sides, adblockers seem awfully worth it.

There was a long time where Nissan was play the exact same douchebro ad every single time I viewed a youtube video because of their tracking script and now I will never buy a Nissan.

Ad companies need to pay, but the only way to do that is to stop websites from outsourcing their ad management. The outside services all calculate how much they can get away with.

No auto-play with audio? How about a “glitchy” video that only occasionally plays audio? Or if the mouse passes even near to the ad? Or whatever

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