We’ve been talking a lot lately about ad-blocking apps. A couple of weeks ago we told you how the most popular app in the Apple App Store, an ad-blocker called Peace was pulled by its developer over concerns that it would deprive fellow developers from receiving the income they depend on from advertiser-supported free apps.
I also told you how two major makers of ad-blocking add-ons were now going to allow some ads that they deemed acceptable to get through.
But that raises a larger question. Is it ethical to block ads on advertiser-supported sites or in ad-supported apps? I’m not talking about unsolicited spam jamming your inbox or telemarketers calling your house. After all, the telemarketers aren’t subsidizing your phone bill.
But if you take a free ad-supported app as opposed to buying a paid version, you’re agreeing to view the advertising in exchange for free use of the app. Is skipping those ads a violation of the agreement? Are you cheating the developer out of income he or she deserves?
The vast majority of web-sites are supported by advertising. If you have those ads covered up, are you not paying up what you promised the site by logging on? For example, take a look at the Food Network site. When I log on, I see a banner ad at the top, plus another ad to the right.
There are also links to external sites and to purchase products sold by the chefs featured on the site.
Now let’s check out another food site, Cook’s Country. There are no external ads. The only thing close to an ad here is the opportunity to upgrade my membership to site.
But this nearly ad-free experience costs me $40 a year. If you don’t have a membership, you can’t get past the home page or read any of the articles.
Food Network accepts my viewing of their ads and links as payment. (And also the ads I view on the television when I watch their programs). Is hiding those ads cheating Food Network? How many of you would be willing to pay for website subscriptions if it meant no ads? How much would you pay?
You may have noticed that when you watch ad-sponsored programs on-demand or on-line that you can’t skip over the ads. If you try to skip ahead, many of them will just play the ads back to back. Dish Network has been sued for a commercial-skipping feature in its DVRs.
Most television programming is subsidized by ads, if you don’t watch the ads, are you breaking an agreement with the program providers? And if you would prefer ad-free content, how much are you willing to pay for it?
Netflix recently announced it was raising its rates in order to fund more ad-free original programming. They know what networks have known for a long time, content isn’t cheap and you have to be willing to pay to create it. That money has to come from somewhere.
I have some questions for you, Is it cheating to block ads? What would you be willing to pay for website subscriptions to skip ads all together? How much would you pay for completely ad-free TV and apps?
Let us know in the comments.