Oh, advertising online, what a tangled web you weave. I’m so torn with advertising models, it’s not even funny any more. The FCC has recently suggested that Mozilla and Google implement “Do Not Track” features into browsers so that users can ensure that websites aren’t tracking their movements so they can send out targeted ads.
It turns out that both Mozilla and Firefox will be adding features to their browsers that take the FCC’s recommendations into account. Firefox intends on adding it via a “Do Not Track” HTTP header, and Google has introduced the “Keep My Opt-Outs” Chrome extension. In both cases, adherence to the “Do Not Track” program will come down to individual websites implementing the program.
To be honest and upfront about this, I don’t know too much about the program, but today’s news certainly had me questioning a few things. You can read them in my rant below.
The privacy nut in me says, “Hell Yes!” to the “Do Not Track” movement, but the online content producer in me says, “Hell No!” I fully understand that targeted advertisements can be risky business and insanely obtrusive, but if we think about this from a content producer’s standpoint, how the heck are your favourite websites going to stay in business?
Major producers won’t have a problem generating money, but news startups might go defunct pretty quickly if they couldn’t rely on accurate advertising models. Our Google Ads keep us in business, and they pay the bandwidth bills. By avoiding them, and disabling ads, you’re essentially putting us out of business.
We know—it’s not your problem. Personally I’d rather you block ads and continue to read our website than avoid us because of our advertisements, but that’s probably not a norm in the industry.
But, this news really makes me wonder how long the freemium and ad-supported websites will continue to operate in the future. I wonder if there will be blow-back from major content producers who rely on targeted ads to pay the bills. Would they go so far as to block users from reading their content if they have ad blockers or “Do Not Track” functionality turned on? Would they move to a pay-to-read model for users who don’t want targeted ads?
What do you think? Would you block our ads if you could? Would you pay a monthly subscription to your favourite online news sources?
Let us know in the comments.