Let’s Talk Advertising

September 22, 2017 by Tim

If you don’t use ad block, you’re going to notice some new ad locations on the website this week. If you do use ad block, well, you won’t see them… which is the reason they’re there.

To be clear, that is not a judgement or an accusation. I understand and sympathize with the various reasons to use an ad blocker. Especially since with the ad exchanges, we can’t always control the ads showing up on our site. I’m not going to make some big pitch about the evil of ad block and implore you to disable it; if you choose to use it, that’s your decision and your right. But as a website owner who relies on advertising income, the proliferation of ad blockers and their indiscriminate use has had an unmistakable impact on the way that side of the business functions. And it’s something we have to find ways to deal with.

Let’s get this out on the table right up front: I don’t like the new ads. I don’t really want them on the website, and I’ve yet to decide if they’ll stay. We’re doing a sort of trial with them at the moment so that we can collect hard data on their performance and so I could see them in practice. There’s some garbage at the bottom of the page, and occasionally a video ad in the corner that should not play sound unless you mouse over it.

I don’t like them, but I’m also faced with having to at least seriously consider their use. Advertising income is directly responsible for keeping this site running. I don’t mean that in a “I need to eat so I can keep working” sort of way, although that is certainly part of it. I mean the revenue generated by advertising pays for the server to keep this website online and the personnel to monitor/respond to issues.

And so I’m torn between not wanting to cover my website in ads, and not wanting to leave money on the table, so to speak. Especially now that I have a family to support, I feel added pressure to take steps I might not worry too much about if it were just me alone. It’s hard not to be keenly aware of the percentage of traffic that uses ad blockers, and not wonder if that deficit could be made up at least in part by certain ads that offer a higher payout, even if they are a bit gross.

Ideally, I could convince more people to support the website with $1 a month via Patreon and not even need ads. But that requires active participation whereas placing ads on a page is a passive method of the support; the reader doesn’t have to do anything extra. They’re already loading the page for the comic. They visit the site, and someone else gives me some money.

So, that’s the long and short of it. It’s why ads are there to begin with, and it’s why we’ve added some new ones. Like I said, it may or may not be permanent. Part of me wants them to not be worth it so I can get rid of them, and part of me worries about what the next step is if they don’t work out.

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GadgetDon
Guest

I don’t mind ads. Video autoplay ads, well, I mind a little (mind like HELL if they make noise). And flash ads, well, that’ll look like I block because I no longer have that malware on my system.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

I don’t mind ads, per se, even the ones that are obnoxious videos with sound, because I keep my phone/tablet on mute. I don’t even notice them most of the time because I guess I’ve become habituated to having ads there. What I do mind are the junk ads that redirect my browser to phishing websites that claim I’ve won a $100 Amazon gift card just because I’m an iOS/chrome/whatever user (first time I visited your site this evening), or the ads that fill my screen and can’t be closed because the little x is covered up by even more… Read more »

Martin
Guest
Martin

Financing web sites by ads is dying. In fact, we are heading for a collapse. It is inherently a dysfunctional system. Ad blockers are not the problem but mostly a response from the immune system. If the revenue from the ads is critical in keeping your web site up, you will probably have to look into a plan B in the future: not right now this moment, but within the next 6-24 months. As I like your work, I want you to be able to deliver comics to me (and others) ;-). Of course this is not possible without money.… Read more »

Mead
Guest
Mead

Ayuh. Need to rip that band-aid off as soon as possible and make internet ads as a concept disappear. Direct-support sites like Patreon are the future.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Concur with Martin. That you describe ads as passive monetization is precisely the problem with the industry — I don’t ask to see ads because I don’t want to see ads. If someone wishes to support you, they have the option of purchasing your merchandise and funding you through e.g. Patreon. This doesn’t have to be a paywall, but that’s certainly one way to force readers to declare just how much they value your content.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Just turned off my ad blocker as I do want to support you and, as you said in your post, it is a easy way for me to do it.

Not gonna lie, I don’t like it. But honestly, since you are very clear on your stance, you aren’t going to have total garbage on it.

I will keep the ads on because I want to support you and the work you do as I really do appreciate it!

Mead
Guest
Mead

You’d be helping Tim more by pledging $1/month through Patreon and turning ads back off, seriously. It’s also more than a youtuber makes off of one regular ad-blasted viewer.

Twitch
Guest
Twitch

Depends on which format I’m viewing the page dictates if I see ads or not (mobile or desktop). But I have seen ads in spots where ads would be.

Maybe make it so a paetron link shows up there if ads are blocked?

Madkine
Guest
Madkine

I’ve modified my blocker to allow the less offensive ads through on this site. (I’m also a Patreon supporter.)

I’d like to see an option like Penny Arcade where if you are a paid up supporter and logged into the site, then ad’s aren’t shown.

Javier
Guest
Javier

Turned off the ad blocker =)

Lambast
Guest
Lambast

On Android, your ads regularly redirect me to random scam sites (“your device is infected” or “enter this lottery!!!”) without me clicking anything. I have almost unsubscribed several times because of this. Ads are fine, but please find a service that does some quality control, or people will be quite justified using adblock (or not reading you at all).

Ocramot
Guest
Ocramot

I never installed an ad blocker exactly for the reasons that you stated: I like to “do” something to sustain the authors of the websites that I visit. And I don’t even mind banners and audio/video starting in auto. Unfortunately, what’s really annoying are ads that autoredirect you to some other site; I’m on mobile right now and I had to close the tab and to go back and forth three times because of them, just to be able to read this article…about ads. 😀

Seth
Guest
Seth

For what it’s worth, I had AdBlocker disabled on this site… until one of those video ads popped up just now. I want to let the ads through and support the site, but also, I despise video ads, and never want to see them, hear them, or encourage their use. :/

Deadly-Bagel
Guest
Deadly-Bagel

It’s hard because I really do want to support the comics I read but my work computer runs 4 monitors on a business 512mb card, it can barely handle scrolling an image let alone any sort of animation. Some of the ones I read (not this one) I’ve had to re-enable it or just stop reading the comic entirely because the page was unusable. Trouble with Ad-Block Plus is I don’t think you can whitelist a site then blacklist certain ads on it… If it does end up affecting my work computer I will look deeper into it. I have… Read more »

Athanasius
Guest
Athanasius

I’ve white listed the site in my adblocker, but if any part of the ad revenue mechanism relies on javascript then my views still won’t count. I originally started using ad blocking schemes (originally a proxy) in the late 90s not just because of the visual annoyance, but mostly because at that time loading of ads significantly slowed down overall page load times (this being back when browsers made one request at a time by default, although you could tweak that up to a whole four!). Unfortunately since then ads have moved not only on to requiring flash (something my… Read more »

opesinorbit
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opesinorbit

Tim I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. It’s sad when art and creativity has to deal with the greed and callousness of corporate business. I don’t use an ad blocker because it interferes with my work (at souless-corporatation) and ads have never bother me while I have enjoyed your creativity, at home or at the office. Do whatever you need to do to keep doing what you’re doing! I hope I speak for all of us when I say: We understand.

rayje589
Guest
rayje589

When I came to this page to read the post a video ad auto-played WITH sound. Personally video ads are my least favorite. The junk at the bottom I can live with.

CoolHand
Guest
CoolHand

I’ve turned my ad-blocker off… But I have to say if these really intrusive ads continue then I’ll turn it on again. I can see it’s going to be a tough balancing act but at the end of the day I do recognise I am consuming a service that is free at the point of contact. Thanks for the great comic!

Meankeb
Guest
Meankeb

Maybelline Lash Sensation mascara is auto-playing sound. I hit Reload about 10 times. Toilet paper, Gillette and yogurt commercials are fine. Each time the Maybelline ad plays a lady toting “TODAY, I HAVE THE BEST MASCARA…”, while a jet airline engine starts warming up into a club-step beat. Unleash the kraken on them.

Hamstermer
Guest
Hamstermer

The Kraken Shall be Unleashed.

Tim V.
Guest
Tim V.

For me the main ad I don’t like (outside of the usual sound-based ones) are ads that track your view as you scroll down and follow. If it’s pinned to the side or at the very bottom, fine. But having that corner ad follow me wherever I go is, well creepy.

(small idea: if comments are automatically expanded, that pushes the bottom-most ads away from us! Hooray!)

Tim V.
Guest
Tim V.

Oh and also ads that actively change the layout of the website, either when they load in or worse, AFTER and abjectly push the content I’m trying to read/click on away. IGN used to be terrible with those!

Twist Rolarian
Guest
Twist Rolarian

I run AdBlock on Chrome, and while I’ve whitelisted this site, I still don’t see any ads. I’m not (at this time) a Patreon supporter, so that’s not the cause either.

Denis
Guest
Denis

Since this site almost never work in my safari and my feedly can’t pick the pictures, I have to manually copypaste the address to Chrome every time you post. So I just disabled its ad blocker for your domain. Hope it helps.

That one idiot
Guest
That one idiot

maybe look into going to line webtoon or tapas. i know with tapas they have a rotation of free comics that you can read that are behind a “paywall”, you should really look into something like that.

Eldest Gruff
Member
Eldest Gruff

I’m personally perfectly fine with ads, as long as they’re not sexually explicit or gratuitously violent in any way. Seeing as this site is run by someone who -actively cares- about the ad content on it, I’m pretty happy. I’m not generally able to support a site financially, and so being able to do a tiny bit by providing ad views is only right.

I’d much rather have CAD with ads at the bottom of a page than no CAD, that’s for sure.

Eldest Gruff
Member
Eldest Gruff

This is going to sound silly, but is there anything I can do to actively INCREASE the amount of ad revenue that you get from my visit? Say, like reading through a bunch of older pages or hitting “refresh” a bunch of times or something? Or would that just be increasing the amount of bandwidth? If ad clicks help, I don’t mind clicking onto the header or sidebar ads by Baby Gap or Geico or stuff; but pretty much everything from Taboola on the bottom makes me wary.

WizeManBOB
Guest
WizeManBOB

Could be just because I’m running Linux, but the video ads are definitely playing audio on page load.

That said, do what you have to to keep going. I can’t pay regularly for the pleasure of this comic. If I’m a little inconvenienced, but it helps you stay running, then I’m more than happy to have the inconvenience.

Dakota
Guest
Dakota

I’m someone who keeps blocking ads because I’ve had enough with the annoying video ads and web pages slowing down. I also contribute to your Patreon.

In my opinion, you should consider having a “background”, so to speak, behind the ads, that users only see when blocking ads, that promotes your Patreon. Something like Nexus mods.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I don’t mind passive ads but I can’t stand ones that make noise when you go to a site. I am paetron subscriber for you (and a number of other sites) to make up for my aggressive use of adblockers. (I am using versions of adblockers I doubt you have ever heard of, and as a result see no new ads on this page). If everyone would go back to passive ads people like me would stop using adblockers (I know that everyone wouldn’t.) Fair warning, if the new ads somehow slip through and make noise, I will stop coming… Read more »

MDK187
Guest
MDK187

I use NoScript to block scripts. There’s absolutely no reason for an ad to run scripts unless it’s trying to be intrusive, annoying, or nefarious. All an ad really needs is an image, and a referral link. Everything else they have to do can be run server side. The ad companies only have themselves to blame. I don’t skip ads on TV, or YouTube very often, because they’re within the context of the content I’m viewing. By marketing modern internet ads to customers using how annoying and intrusive they are as selling points, they’re the ones driving people to ad… Read more »

Dakala
Guest
Dakala

Sadly, even if I did try to turn off all of my ad-blocking for here, I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t make a difference. I’ve been hit by malware pretty hard in the past from ads, and so I run a pretty stout combination of ad-blockers and script-blockers (AdBlock Plus, uBlock Origin, Ghostery, and NoScript) because I’m not letting it happen again. It’s not because I don’t want to support sites (trust me, if ads weren’t used as a malicious infection vector, I’d put up with most of them.) but because I don’t like re-installing Windows and making “the phone call”… Read more »

Some fool
Guest
Some fool

A MAC?
Goodness gracious, anything but that!

Erik
Guest
Erik

Aren’t you big enough now for sponsored ads? A few of my goto’s do this, and I don’t mind, since I know they’ve been vetted and probably don’t contain malware.

What they do is basically have a splash background on the front page, and a banner ad leading to an on-site article about the advertisement.

Positive aspects:
– Fixed “income”
– Little risk (as long as you have sponsors)
– No bloat or malware (unless you make it so)
– Aimed at your audience, which improves outcome for your sponsor.

Negative aspects:
– More manual work and public relations

Your relationship with Sumo Lounge chairs comes to mind.

James
Guest
James

Can I not feel guilty about having you ad-blocked if I give on Patreon?

Josh
Guest

I use Adblock Plus but I turn it off for sites as I deem needed. I have shut it off for this one 🙂 I was unaware of Patreon and honestly I kind of fell off my religious reading after the main story line went out a while back, it appears it is back now and I need to play catch up as well. Always loved your work and excited to go back and recap the story and then jump back in!

mjc
Guest
mjc

“and occasionally a video ad in the corner that should not play sound unless you mouse over it.” Unfortunately that’s not the case, I just had one that popped up in the corner and started playing a video with sound on its own. I only put my mouse over there to close it. And sorry, I didn’t pay attention to which brand it was, I just heard unwanted sound and went for the close button. I’ve had my AdBlocker disabled on this site for years because ads like that didn’t exist here. Today I’m turning it on. I have an… Read more »

Ljxjah
Guest
Ljxjah

Immediately turned off my adblocker for this site!
Didn’t even know there were supposed to be ads until this page.

Hamstermer
Guest
Hamstermer

As has been stated previously, the biggest ad problem (in my opinion) is the distance between the “You May Like” and the “Join the conversation”. I don’t want to risk slipping and clicking on a garbage clickbaited virus if I am trying to get to the comments section.
Otherwise, I don’t really mind except for the auto sound players. I just keep my eyes on the black area
By the way this is a great use of getting a response and opinion from readers.
🙂

Nick
Guest
Nick

Ad Block Plus has a default setting to allow non intrusive ads through. Have you considered making sure your ads are considered non intrusive so they are displayed even with the ad blocker enabled?

Hunter
Guest
Hunter

Know I’m a little late to the game, but I wanted to at least share with you the fact that your point here made me sign up for Patreon. I just installed an ad blocker on my home network and I enjoy your content enough that I honestly didn’t want to see you lose income over my decision.
So thank you for your work, I’ve never had cause for complaint

darthyoshi
Guest
darthyoshi

I’ve been around here for a long while and I love to support sites by whitelisting good advertisers. I subscribe to a whitelist purposefully aimed at allowing good ads through and I’ve never seen one here. I’m sure that doesn’t mean that the ads that would normally be here are crap, but I might suggest that you work with your advertising platform to have them meet the requirements laid out for whitelist inclusion and get their ads included in the whitelist (the guidelines are here: https://adblockplus.org/acceptable-ads#criteria .) I’ve found that allowing acceptable ads actually has lead to me seeing ads… Read more »

Dave
Guest

Tim, I’m a supporter of you on Patreon but I also went ahead and disabled my ad blocker on this site to give you a little more support. However, if the ads get unruly (autoplay, high CPU usage), I will have to consider re-enabling the ad-blocker…but I won’t remove my support for you on Patreon.

Demetre
Guest
Demetre

Hey Tim, I disabled adblock for the site, been too big a fan for years not to want to give a hand if I can :).

Jortalus
Guest
Jortalus

I just disabled adblock on this site so I can help out, even if just a bit. As long as the ads aren’t ridiculously obtrusive, I don’t mind them.

Martin
Guest
Martin

Dude. Whatever you gotta do to make a decent living is fine with me. I know where the “mute tab” option is. If you can support your family while making stuff I love to read, that’s great. If someone else is gonna pay it instead of me, that’s even better.

Simon
Guest
Simon

Have you considered more heavily marketing your Patron? I’m not sure about others, but doing something like The Guardian does on their website made me set up a subscription with them. If you have not seen it, at the bottom of each article it gives a blurb about how dependent they are on donations in order to not have to set up a paywall. As long as you don’t make it too intrusive (no more intrusive then current ads) that might be a way to pad Patrons a bit. As it is, unless you are a supermassive fan, you are… Read more »

Liam Rogers
Guest
Liam Rogers

Hey Tim, I know you will probaly not see this but the moment I saw that you were using ads, I turned mine off. Just wanna tell you that that’s the first time I’ve ever done that for any website. I also don’t care about ads.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Oh. I clicked this thinking it was a link for sponsors to advertise with you. Whoops

Hamstermer
Guest
Hamstermer

Congrats, you probably just made 15$ more a month because of the good caring people who have decided to sign up for patreon. 😀