Ads are a scourge of the internet. No one likes them and no one wants to waste their time sitting through them. Yet, the business end of the internet seems to be increasing the amount of ads we see and corporations are inflating the importance of ad revenue in their business. This was a big deal in 2015 when there was a sort of revolution about ads when the corporate world tried to boycott users of ‘Ad Block’ software. But in turn only found themselves being boycotted by the very people who used to consume their content.
It came to a point where editorial and news sites shut people out and started introducing a subscription service to something they were once getting for free. This is fine, from a business perspective. A lot of the services I enjoyed were free at one stage but then decided to charge for their content. But, what wasn’t ok with these editorial sites using the same model is that, it was a reaction to the ‘Ad Block revelation’. Because other sites were doing it and it was the hot topic of the internet, any site that thought they could be losing money from users with Ad Block software (which is pretty much any free news site you go to) started jumping on the virtual bandwagon and cutting users off from their content.
This is the problem with ads. This leaves a bad taste in the mouths of your followers and fans. Not because it’s wrong to ask for money from people who value your content. Content you have worked hard to produce and deliver. But to completely block them off from you, your site, your content, to boycott them completely is a shallow move to make in the name of short-term money.
The absolute definition of selling out.
What you are saying with a move like this is that you value quick money-making rather than creating a community, an audience of people who value you, and incredible content that is going to help, inspire, and delight people. The very reason creatives do what they do in the first place.
I want to be clear; It’s ok to monetise your channel/website if you wish, but don’t block off the people who help generate your growth.
People value their time, and they are willing to pay for that time. We see this more and more with the likes of Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify. Services that offer a ‘premium’ level that cut out ads. Think about the free versions of something; they have limited features you can use, integrate ads into them in a bid to generate quick revenue and capitalise on the fact that since it’s free for people to use therefore more people will see it.
Look at the words used in the last sentence; ‘limited’, ‘integrate ads’, quick revenue’, ‘capitalise’. These are the words associated with ads in an online environment. Ads are in a bad place right now. With words like these associated to them, it’s hard to think of ads and shake this seedy image that has latched onto them. But for good reason. Ads have become synonymous with vying for your attention. In fact, this is their very nature, but when they throw all values and morals out the window in doing so, it’s hard not to be disappointed with ads. Then to associate the standard of the ads with the places you see them.
How many times do you see integrated ads on a website with clickbait titles, “The best, most addictive game of the year. You can’t miss this”. It’s not alluring to those who are internet savvy. But to another generation perhaps so. You have to remember, companies get paid a lot of money (a few thousand (depending on the size of the business)) each time an ad is clicked on their website. If you are tired of ads on the internet. Don’t click them.
In order to banish many unnecessary ads we see in our favourite sites, we have to educate people and remind them that if they click on these ads, they are funding future ads as an incentive to take its place.
A counter argument you will hear from pro-ad campaigners is; ads help us run our site. That’s fine. It’s understandable that a person who creates content for free, with no means of monetising it and who may be losing money in a lot of cases, needs to monetise this to keep producing content on a smaller scale. Think niche hobbies; board games,
Everybody circumstance and situation is different. Some people may be struggling financially, they may need to fund themselves in college, maybe this is their only means of income for new, maybe they need to help family. It could be anything, and you will never know, unless they tell you. Which is something that they will probably do if they value their audience and those that helped them create a community to engage in.
It’s immature for a fan who has followed their journey and consumed their content for free to call them a sellout for putting ads on their site. The content creator will have a valid reason to do it. More than likely, this thing that they are creating will be a hobby, something they enjoy doing on the side, outside of their day job. But where it gets to a place where it needs larger servers to support the growing community or some other form of growth, that they will then need to include ads on their site in order to make the content better for those consuming it.
But form a content creators side, you can’t guilt your followers or fans into ‘whitelisting’ your website, YouTube / Twitch channel or wherever you have your ads, in a bid to monetise your fans. That’s a really slimy move and a slap in the face to those that praise your content and share your page/channel/website, talk about your content with their friends. It’s their choice to do so, they see you as someone they can trust, and with foul move, that trust can be ended. It’s a difficult topic and even more difficult to announce the change in your service. People don’t like change. people crave routine.
It’s understandable for a small content-creator to monetise in order to help them continue what they do due to a growing audience. But, where this model does hold up is if you already have a business model in place where you sell goods and services. This will leave a sour taste to those who consume your content at a price. People are paying for your service, your content, your products, and yet they still get ads on your site?
There’s nothing about that sentence that makes it sounds like you aren’t doing it for money and trying to make as much money as you can from this thing. But if you have a business like the example about where you sell other things to make money and you’re asking people to ‘whitelist’ your site because you need the money from ad revenue. Then you don’t have a money problem, you have a business problem.
You are forcing people to spend their time and consume content they don’t want to.
Nothing wrong with making money. Allow people to compensate your hard work by having someplace where they can ‘tip’ you, or buy you something (ie. Amazon wishlist). But when you aren’t valuing the people who are on your site, people won’t be happy. They like your content, they trust you, they enjoy your values and personality. People don’t like their time wasted and they don’t like to be hustled. The world (to someone who is passionate about a niche hobby) isn’t about selling to strangers. It’s about forming relationships with an audience. The money will come in time.
This is something the corporate world has a problem with. Big business means big money, but with anonymity. Small business means small money, but with personality. No business means no money, but with relationship.
The future is not ads. We are trending to a place where small communities and audiences are thriving. People value their time. As more people gain access to the internet and the ability to learn something new and grow you skills and knowledge increase, It’s never been more exciting to be part of small communities growing together with people you trust.
Do you want to be known as a person who creates amazing content, or a person who sells others products in your space? A space that you worked so hard to build in the first place. They are piggybacking off your success.
The future is content. Free content. Helping people to grow, and growing with them.
This is why you should start doing what you love.