Recently, I’ve noticed a small change in my online behaviour. When I go to an independently-published site, I’ll sometimes click on an ad because I know it will incrementally help the site publisher. I’ll do this via Firefox’s ‘Open Link in New Tab’ option, so that it doesn’t actually interrupt my reading.
For example, this morning (via Coudal Partners) I went to this site, which is all about travel decals. I surfed around for about 30 seconds, and clicked on a Google ad so that it opened in a background. In doing so, I’ve earned the site owner (one Sjef van Eijk) anywhere from 3 cents to 3 bucks. I never click on those irritating, animated whack-the-monkey ads, because I don’t want to encourage that kind of online advertising.
I used to never click on ads. My change of heart was engendered by a couple of thoughts. First, Google AdWords represent a real opportunity for small site owners to be (at least slightly) rewarded for their efforts, and I’d like to foster that. Second, though an ad-free Internet would be great, it’s not viable. Unobtrusive ads that take up a small percentage of the screen work–the same way they’ve worked for a 100 years in magazines and newspapers.
While I’ve used pop up blockers, I’ve never used anything like AdBlock. I may try it out, to cover up the dancing monkeys and talking heads that are the worst perpetrators.
I’m not actually using the ads the way they’re meant to be used. That is, once the advertiser’s page has loaded in a new tab, I immediately close it. In truth, if everyone did this, online advertising wouldn’t work because advertisers would see their return on investment approach zero (lots of clickthroughs and no conversions). Still, I’m happy to do this to thank the site operator for their efforts.
This post is not here to encourage you to click on ads on this site. It was originally motivated by this article (and this Slashdot discussion) that said that Firefox users are less likely to click on ads than Internet Explorer users.