The struggle for survival

Sven Krumrey

Possibly everyone uses free, ad-based services on the Internet. Whether it's email, sports results or current news, nearly every free offer relies on ads for financing. This shouldn't be a problem, it's simple give-and-take and no-one would offer a service out of charity alone. But that's just pure theory as long as an essential element is missing: common sense. In this case that means a reasonable dose of advertising.

Advertising can be annoying

Naturally, it doesn't work. If the world was full of smart people it would be a different story. But if you ever tried to visit an ad-laden website you know the unbearable horror that is slow, jerky, lagging websites with nagging popups. Professional websites may be within reasonable bounds with a few ads either on their borders or neatly embedded into their text contents. But once you stumble upon a page that exists outside the realm of well-established media and service sites you are opening Pandora's box. More breasts than Facebook would have to delete in an entire year, ads for illegal downloads and the inevitable potency-enhancing drugs. Layers with minuscule close buttons that appear on top of valuable content are particularly annoying. Quite the let-down when you're looking for musical advice in a forum and are presented with "ripe, voluptuous women from your neighborhood" instead - at the very moment your girlfriend comes in. There may be an urgent need for clarification afterwards.

Even a smiling frog can be spooky...

Tracking cookies and supposedly personalized ads are a real nuisance. I once bought a history book with the best of intents but have been considered a Nazi from one of those ever since - no hope for redemption. From movies about exciting dogfights to mugs decorated with famous tank commanders, I was bombarded constantly. So I deleted the cookie and searched for a gift for my better half and, what do you know, this time I was bombarded with shoes, clunky purses and gruesome earrings. Hint: Even if your tent is broken don't make the mistake of searching for latex or there will be an aftermath! What could be more annoying? Interactive ads! A creepy frog trying to sell me a cellphone tracked my every mouse move with alien eyes - enough to trigger delusions of persecution even in the most rugged of characters. While my mouse pointer wandered aimlessly during reading, a Santa Claus got reanimated and promptly drew my attention to the positive aspects of credit cards along with a snappy Hohoho! from my loudspeakers - in July! After 5 minutes, I'd had enough.

As entertaining as it may sound, it utterly ruins any web surfing experience. Not to mention that it can cost a pretty penny on cellphones and tablets because ads increase loading times and happily eat away at your cell phone plan. And it gets worse as close buttons are frequently placed outside the visible area forcing you to wait until the page finished loading. So you finally give in and install one of those ad-blockers to get some peace and quiet. From now on, web pages look cleaner, even barren sometimes and load a lot faster. All's well.

Peace at last

But only for a moment since many web sites will simply cease to exit because of that. Many smaller sites that offer interesting news, entertainment and funny anecdotes are already struggling to survive. Because, once you passionately invest time and money in a project you don't want to go away empty-handed or end up in debt. This would be the end of trash sites - but also kill many of the sites I don't want to go without anymore! Sure, this is not a new problem but user numbers are rising steadily - and so is the number of no longer viewed ad segments. But each ad display earns page creators a little money, even more if you click on it. In short: Without ad views, the Internet will change - and possibly become bleaker. From newspapers that offer articles online to useful services, everything has to be financed.

How can you support those that deserve it? I go to the trouble of manually enabling ads for each affected page. Every ad-blocker supports this feature either calling it "allow on this page" or "disable on this page". It's a case-by-case decision but it matters. Great sites deserve our support and two simple clicks really isn't asking too much. So here's the deal: Offer great content and I will gladly view your ads. But I certainly won't tolerate any more creepy frogs.

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