When Community Members Block Ads

Todd GarlandMany online communities are ad-supported. Without that revenue, they may have to reduce their operations or cease to exist at all. Ad blocking is a serious threat, but what’s the best way respond to it?

Todd Garland is the founder and CEO of BuySellAds, an ad tech company that I’ve worked with for many years. He says the time to blame ad blockers is over, and that whining about ad blockers only guarantees a bad ending to this story. Plus:

  • How ad quality became so bad, even for reputable players
  • Why native ads are the future
  • Ad behaviors that community managers and operators should watch out for

This is not only episode #50 of the show, but December 7th marks one year since Community Signal launched! Thank you to everyone who has supported our program, including subscribers, our 50 guests, those who have shared it online, people who have rated it on iTunes, Stitcher or other platforms, those who have offered thoughtful feedback or kind words and our sponsors.

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Big Quotes

“Let’s pretend that I walk into … Macy’s, and I see a nice scarf for my wife, but I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to go check out stuff in the men’s clothing section before I come back and buy that on the way out for her.’ And so I pass by [the] scarves, I touch one or two, my body language indicates that I might be interested in buying. As soon as I walk away from that shelf, somebody approaches me from behind. ‘Hey Todd, hey Todd, I just had this great idea. Why don’t you buy the scarf right here? And better yet, I’ll give you 25% off if you buy right now, right now, right now, right now. Hey Todd, Todd, Todd, Todd, Todd, Todd, Todd.’ That’s how ads are approaching us as consumers on the web. That’s absurd. If I am that person in that store, I’m going to walk out.” -@toddo

“We can build a car that can drive itself down the street and avoid accidents 99.99% of the time, but we can’t prevent an ad from redirecting a user unwillingly to the app store?” -@toddo

“Deception is very, very profitable. That’s the only answer that I can reasonably come up with, considering the fact that we can have a car drive itself down the street, but we can’t prevent [ads that] redirect.” -@toddo

“It’s okay to ask people to turn off their ad blocker. Many times, the user who’s blocking ads in your site might have installed an ad blocker because of a completely different site or maybe they don’t like 30-second YouTube ads before watching a 10-second clip on YouTube. Crazy miscalculations or aggressive behaviors from people or companies monetizing, like a YouTube for example in this case, have led your users to install these things that then affect your revenue.” -@toddo

“Take good note of what ads are actually on your site. Even going as far as installing a VPN. Browse your site from different locations. Try and view your site as if you’re somebody visiting from France or Turkey or Japan and see the ads that are coming up, and hold the ad companies that you work with accountable for these ads.” -@toddo

“Publishers need to save themselves in many ways. They need to curb their enthusiasm – maybe that’s trademarked, I don’t know – from installing one more ad or having the mindset where, ‘Oh, it’s just one more thing.’ Publishers need to hold themselves accountable.” -@toddo

About Todd Garland

Todd Garland is the founder and CEO of BuySellAds, an advertising platform designed to connect media companies directly to advertisers. Founded in 2008, BuySellAds powers critical ad tech infrastructure for some of the best media companies on the web, including NPR, Forbes, Roku and The Atlantic.

He is a champion for remote work environments and bootstrapping businesses to profitability.

Prior to BuySellAds, Todd was one of the first dozen employees at HubSpot, the company leading the global movement of inbound marketing. Todd lives in Boston with his wife and three children.

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