A truism of television is that they aren’t in the entertainment business, they’re in the advertising business. Their job is selling commercials, and the shows you watch are nothing but an enticement to get you to watch long enough that you’ll see the ads. This is true for ad-based websites as well. The content is just there to get you coming back so you’ll see and click on the ads. (I’ve always had a problem with the idea of using click-through as the primary measurement of an ad’s success, but that’s another story.)

The problem here is that a balance needs to be struck between content and ads: Tilt too much toward content, and you need another business model to pay for hosting. Tilt too much toward ads, and people will stop visiting your site—or start blocking your ads. The more intrusive and annoying the ads, the more likely people will block them.

I rarely block ads. (Of course, I don’t click on them very often, either.) I figure if the website owner needs an ad banner to pay for hosting and/or make a profit and continue providing the site, that’s fine…as long as it doesn’t distract from the content. Remember, I’m not there for the ads, they have to convince me to come to their page, and if the ads make an otherwise-appealing site too annoying to read…well, sorry, I’m either blocking the ads or I’m not coming back.

DevArticles is a good example of this. The page was so full of animated banners visually screaming for my attention, I could barely focus on the article long enough to read it. This one page prompted me to install the Adblock extension for Firefox at work and block everything coming from their ad server, just to be able to read it. Had they kept their ads sensible, like the dozens of ad-supported sites I frequent without blocking the ads, I probably would have bookmarked it as well. As it is, the site reminds me of a line from Babylon 5: “Too annoying to live.”

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