Blocking Advertising Hurting Good Sites

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The website Smashing Magazine published a take on whether or not ad blocking software hurts good websites and by extension those who make their living working with good websites. This time the article comes from the point of view of web designers.

My conclusions remain the same. I will turn off my AdBlock Plus, actually I will disable AdBlock Plus, on good websites with ads that do not interfere with my ability to interact with the site. However, I will NOT turn off NoScript for any site until advertisers stop using super-cookies to track me, and Flash ads stop sucking up so much CPU and memory that having just 10 tabs open means crushing my machine just because Flash insists on continuously animating all those ads I am not looking at.

Steve Jobs may not have pure motives, but he is not wrong. Adobe Flash is a bloated, crash-prone, piece of junk. Its widespread use is in no way an endorsement of its quality, much like the box office receipts of the three newer Star Wars movies are in no way representative of how good they were. Other factors pushed both way beyond what they actually deserved.

Google integrated Flash into the Chrome Browser, partly to take Adobe’s side against Apple (the company had a very different tune prior to the whole Apple v Adobe blowup), and partly to have some control over how badly Flash behaves. The Mozilla Firefox browser was forced to separate out plug-in processes to reduce browser crashes. While they identified all the players, make no mistake, it was Adobe’s Flash plug-in that forced the issue after developers grew tired of being blamed for problems caused by Flash. Of course, this says nothing of the gaping security holes the plug-in propagates across browsers.

If you ever want to see just how resource intensive and craptacular Flash is, open your Google Chrome web browser. (You’ll need Chrome because it separates each tab into its own process.) Now, open two tabs, one with a "standard" flash advertisement on it and one without. See how much more memory and CPU that tiny insignificant flash animation soaks up. For further proof, install the Ad Block Plus extension for Chrome and view the resources used by the same website with and without those ads blocked.

As a professional freelance writer, I do a lot of online research and reading. Staying on top of current events in the tech industry is the most important skill a freelance technology writer can have. Doing all of that in a time efficient manner means opening tabs, and lots of them.

If I let Flash ads run on all of those tabs, my browser will be sucking up a gig of memory in no time, and that just isn’t going to fly.

So, website designers, and purveyors of quality information online, your message has been received. I will disable my ad blocker on your site if you agree not to put user hampering advertisements (I’m looking at you Chikita) on your sites so that you may fairly earn advertising revenue for your hard work. However, that will be no help to you so long as your advertisers are predominantly flash-based.

Good day.

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One thought on “Blocking Advertising Hurting Good Sites”

  1. Justin L says:

    Any ad you can A) easily/programmatically identify, and B) can block without harming your user experience, is intrusive blunt force advertising that belongs in the trash pile.

    Also, any ad that uses intrusive technical features like popups or flash is unacceptable, especially where sound is generated or significant bandwidth is consumed.

    A “good” website integrates product promotion with the user experience, for example by recommending and promoting useful utensils in a cooking article. The user should be seduced and courted, rather than having unwanted and unnecessary product spots shoehorned into the content that the user actually wants, old media style.

    Also, Apple is dead wrong about HTML 5. The standards are difficult to implement and are badly handicapped, they’re not an alternative to most of what Flash offers. Apple is really advocating HTML 5 for very basic things, and then promoting their ever-expanding app store that is every bit as proprietary, vendor-locked, non-standardized, unstable, and unsafe as Flash, but worse. I mean, HTML 5 isn’t Apple’s preferred alternative to Flash, their app store is, and it’s the same concept but worse in every possible way.

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