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August 31, 2015

Ad Blocking and The Future of Writing

Is there a future for many websites who survive through (annoying) advertising?

This article brings sharp focus to a new game changing move by Apple in iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan – integrated ad-blocking. Apple will make it easy for third party developers to create tools which provide ad-blocking, not post-load but pre-load, removing the junk, code and annoying pop-ups which seem to blight many sites now. OTCS has little in the way of advertising, we show a Leaderboard most of the time, and sometimes a sidebar, to support our content or sponsors, by way of visual recognition. (You can also subscribe to a service like AdBlock across all your browsers, outside of Apple)

The fundamental change this may bring is a recognition that we (the readers) need to pay to reward writing where we see value being added and provided. Getting stuff for free is nice, but as Steve Jobs once said "if you aren't paying then you are the product". The benefits of this new approach from Apple is giving you back control over what you do and don't see as you traverse the web, with speedier page load times, less intrusive tracking, and easier sites to read. What it also might mean is the death of many 'click bait' websites, hooray.

The other dynamic is the shift from print to on-line but with a major drop in advertising revenue, see the chart below, the thin line at the bottom is the new non-print revenue.

The article above shows the trend, print is expensive (I know from publishing Rocket) so you need decent Ad revenue to pay for the product. But, advertisers won't pay for digital ads at the same rates as print, so as a result, the news industry is in a rapid transition towards a world where the act of writing must make a decent return, or many historic titles will fold.

This site is completely free and supported by our sponsors – should we charge for access? Are we pushing out enough content worth receiving, that you as a reader would value what we do with actual cash? It's a theoretical question for now – but please leave comments on how you see the relationship between sites and their readers developing?

Personally, having control of the junk on many websites is welcome, but this will only accelerate a shift towards pay-walls. A new site trying to become the iTunes of news, is www.blendle.com. They consolidate news sources, you don't pay anything up front, only for what you read. And, if you don't like what you read, you can get a refund, Blendle isn't available globally yet, but it's a new idea, will it work?

I'd really like to know how you feel about the value trade between a site like ours, and yourself – how should it work in future?

 


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