Advertising, Subscriptions, and why you should use Adblock

As a writer and a software developer, I'm in the content business. I understand businesses need to make money off online services, and without that money they'll go out of business.

Advertising is an effective way to make money. When I recently worked on the business strategy for a small project, it was clear that giving the product away and advertising on page views would make about ten times as much money as charging for the product, as well as leading to broader adoption.

Unfortunately, as a human being, I don't like advertising, for a number of reasons.

Advertising creates unnecessary desire: Many years ago I would spend part of every month intensely dissatisfied with the car I was driving. I'd consider how much money I had, and whether I could afford a new car. From a personal financial perspective, buying a new car would have been a bad decision. So I'd end up feeling bad about my car and my money situation. I gradually realized I only felt this way during the five days following the arrival of Road & Track, a car magazine. The rest of the month, I felt just fine. I cancelled my subscription. 

Advertising is biased: Even when I've decided to buy something, I want to do research and make an educated decision. I can do that with unbiased reviews. I want to know the truth about a product, not a company's carefully tailored "our product is perfect for everything" advertising spiel that usually borders on lies.

Advertising is especially evil for kids: I've got three young kids who often use my computer. Not only are the advertisements displayed often inappropriate for kids, but kids are especially vulnerable to ad messages.

That being said, I've lived with advertising for a long time. Because it's only fair, after all, to pay for services I use. Services that I especially like, in many cases, and want to stick around. So even though I know there have been ad-block plugins for browsers, I didn't use them. 

When I have the choice to pay for a service I like, I always do. This usually opts me out of ads. I happily pay for Pandora, a service I love. I buy reddit gold. I pay for the shareware I download.

I had hoped that over time we'd see more services go to this model, where a modest fee would support an ad-free experience. I'd especially like to pay for an ad-free YouTube experience or an ad-free Google Search. But it hasn't happened.

After many years of waiting, I've changed my mind about ad-block services. I believe the only way online services will get the message that we don't like advertising is for as many people as possible to use ad-block plugins for their browser. Instead of seeing ad-blockers as a mechanism to to avoid "payment" for services, I see it as an activist tool to send a message to online services: give us an ad-free option or we'll create it ourselves.

I'm using the most popular Chrome plugins: AdBlock from https://getadblock.com. It takes seconds to install, and you'll never see an ad again. You won't see ads on webpages and you won't see them on videos. Peace and quiet has come back to my web browser.

Go ahead and give it a try. I think you'll be delighted by reclaiming your web browsing experience. But more importantly, do it to send a message. 

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