Content isn’t free, especially good high-quality content. Yet as consumers, we like our content to be free. Once we have paid our monthly bill for internet access we don’t want to be charged again by each individual website that we access. Of course, there are some exceptions with services that offer premium content that we’re willing to pay for – Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify.
A lot of websites try to pay for the cost of creating their content and hosting their offerings through the use of advertising. Visitors to their sites aren’t free – every hit costs a little bandwidth. This little revenue generated by advertisements help keep the websites in business, and we the consumer get to consume that content without having to individually subscribe and pay for access to everything.
Ad-Blockers remove that revenue stream. You’re still costing the website money by using their servers and bandwidth and you’re still consuming that content. Yet you aren’t keeping up your end of the bargain. You’re refusing to merely have the presence of an advertisement visible on the page with you.
Websites have a service proposition – view this ad and you get to consume this content. An ad-block circumvents that, you are effectively taking the content without providing the required thing in return. The only payment a website asks for is viewing their adverts, maybe clicking if you see something you’re interested in. Yet, with an ad-blocker you take away that payment. And taking something without paying is theft.
Of course, many websites invite their loyal customers to go ‘ad block free’, allowing consumers to choose to support the websites that they like and trust. Trust is an interesting thing – the internet advertising industry definitely lost the trust of people very early on – too many adverts, too intrusive, too deceptive – and of course some more nefarious adverts come embedded with malware, not to mention the constant tracking from a plethora of cookies and other spyware.
Many websites offer add-ons such as Reddit Gold or beg for donations like Wikipedia. Some websites are turning to pay walls like the Times newspaper. With the Net neutrality debate raging at the moment – internet service providers wanting to be allowed to treat specific bandwidth differently – the reality of paying for your content by site or type might soon be with us.
There is a strong sense of entitlement. Internet piracy is everywhere. At the moment, people feel they are entitled to consume quality content but not pay the price – whether that’s via an ad-block or straight up piracy of digital media. Can the internet and content producers continue to support this model? Will the internet dwindle down to a paid for model where all content is behind a pay wall (or shitty quality like this blog)?
Is it really theft? Probably not. Is it harming the internet? Probably. Viewing an advert seems like a small price for keeping our internet free.
Do you agree? Why am I wrong? Be sure to let me know in the comments!