TechSpot's stance on ad blocking

By Julio Franco ยท 9 replies
Aug 11, 2016
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  1. There have been some heated arguments in the last week regarding ad blocking. I wanted to bring is up so we can have a central place to gather your feedback and make it more specific to TechSpot and your experience as readers.

    First, a disclaimer: Although TechSpot is directly affected by ad blocking our editors covering these stories have no connection with the site's monetization or sales. We don't have any staff dedicated to ad sales but rely on partnerships and agencies to make this happen. We cover news about ad blocking as they are part of a bigger picture: Advertising is the business model that supports the wide majority of websites today.

    Here is TechSpot's official stance on ad blocking:

    1) We don't encourage to ad block all websites indiscriminately. Not all sites are equal and not all sites use annoying ad formats. Ultimately this is how we pay our staff and cover our expenses.

    2) For the most part, we don't use intrusive ad formats. We try to keep it relatively light and clean, from how we design TechSpot to where ads are positioned. Exceptions arise usually during the holiday season when we allow the odd large campaign that needs more exposure.

    3) We kindly ask our readers to whitelist us.

    4) To further encourage this, we show less ads to logged in users. Are you registered member of TechSpot? Great! This is how we show you a bit of our appreciation.

    5) We use "async" ad technology meaning ads are loaded last, content goes up first and there is no delay in page load.

    6) Ad serving technology keeps evolving and it is out of our hands how fast we can get a better way to filter unwanted campaigns. We do strict control on who we partner with and what ads are allowed on TechSpot but we don't have absolute control.

    7) For users that find ads annoying or intrusive no matter what. We may consider offering an ad-free version of TechSpot in the near future in exchange for a small fee. We asked the question two years ago, and it seemed to get a decent response from readers. But instead of looking at this commercially, we decided to sit and wait to see how ads evolved (they haven't evolved much) and focus our efforts on content where 90% of our efforts go.
    Hexic and cliffordcooley like this.
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,726   +3,700

    After reading through your article I for the first time find myself at least wanting to whitelist Techspot. But then I think back at the few times I complained before using an Adblocker here at Techspot.
    Please do*. A subscription model would then at least take away my excuse not to whitelist Techspot. After all it wouldn't exactly be Techspot's fault, we couldn't pay every site on the Internet. Now would it?

    *The sarcasm following shouldn't change the meaning of "please do".

    With that said. Julio I'm sorry if you are getting caught in the crossfire. It is not you or your site I am rejecting. It is the Ad agencies and the trash they project every where I go. Whitelisting any ads just seems like acceptance to me. And I'm sure the Ad agencies will choose to see it that way as well. I will not go there.
  3. Hexic

    Hexic TS Maniac Posts: 333   +164

    I do not mind ads here, or most of anywhere else - my only stipulation is how aggressive they are.

    For example, I have a screenshot saved somewhere on my Google Drive as reference, a couple of times I have tapped an article to read on Techspot via my phone, and the ad itself takes over my browser screen as a huge overlay, and the little tiny 'x' in the top right corner at times doesn't even load. So at that point I need to exit out and reload my chrome as a fast option of return.

    The ads that take up my entire screen (and some if them are a bit delayed on the load, so I accidentally click them instead of scrolling down the article as intended) are my chief complaint. That would be the only reason why I would use ABP. Because that isn't worth dealing with.

  4. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    For me to be remotely happy with ads, there needs to be a trusted party vetting the ads for malicious content. I.e. the trusted provider curates the content. Maybe parties supply images/video and any links are vetted/monitored. It's pretty complicated but honestly, ads are an exceptional attack vector. Combine an ad with the practically ubiquitous and perpetual holes provided by Flash and it's just one of the best attack vectors possible.

    Then they must vet how obnoxious etc they are. Flashing banner ads etc. Is there an ad provider who makes these guarantees?

    So whitelisting Techspot? Who is the ad provider? What sort of ads? What security is there around who can advertise? Without knowing this, does Techspot really take due care to protect their users?
  5. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,671   +988

    @Darth Shiv I won't say never, but in 18 years we haven't had a security issue related to ads served here. We only work with top tier providers (Google, Ziff Davis, etc.) who do that vetting, but that doesn't mean we or them are infallible, that's simply not realistic.
  6. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,963   +231

    Unfortunately the main viable alternative to ads on websites is sponsored content, in particular sponsored reviews or articles that heavily favor products/companies. As someone who tries to keep review content as impartial as possible, this sort of content sucks, especially if deals aren't made clear to the readers (and these types of secret deals are the most lucrative).

    YouTube has become filled with sponsored content and it's hard to know what videos are genuine opinions or sponsored by a company. I wouldn't want TechSpot to have to rely on this sort of revenue at the expense of quality articles and reviews.
    robb213 likes this.
  7. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    That's reassuring to hear. Honestly that does make a big difference knowing you provide ads from reputable providers.

    As you can imagine, there isn't a lot of transparency with regards to ad providers on many sites in general so we're going in blind to websites all the time and don't know this information which really should be readily available.

    I'd consider a whitelist of ad reputable providers as a solution to the adblock vs anti-adblock situation that is occurring atm.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,726   +3,700

    That's an excellent idea. But how would you put that into play, without fictitious credentials plaguing the whitelist?
  9. robb213

    robb213 TS Maniac Posts: 330   +100

    I didn't think that the comments over adblocking got that heated.

    But the way you guys handle the ad usage here is fine with me. It's minimal. It's the same with ArsTechnica for me as well for instance. I did mention the paid model, because there will always be people who want that option, but I wonder if that would work for a site like TechSpot. I know it works for ArsTechnica, but I'm sure their reader base and hits are larger than here. Although looking at Alexa, Techspot has grown a lot since I last looked years ago.
  10. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Authentication like HTTPS certificates I would say - if you needed it. Whitelist would be domains for ad providers anyway.

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