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Techdirt "adapts" by allowing users to turn off ads.

In a blogpost released today, Techdirt has given viewers the option to turn the ads off.

We get it. Many of you really hate online advertising. And, indeed, there's often a good reason for that. The ads can be irrelevant, intrusive and annoying. And, in some cases, they can even be dangerous, as scammers or those with malicious intent slip bad code into ad networks in order to wreak havoc on visitors' computers. So here's a deal: if you don't want to see display/banner ads on Techdirt any more you don't need to. Just go to your preferences page (whether you have an account or are just browsing without a login) and click the button saying you want to disable ads. And, that's it. No more network display ads.

They follow with a hat in hand part: "That said, obviously if you disable ads we're likely to make less money. So if you choose to do that, we'd appreciate it if you supported us in other ways..."

I think I'll stick with free.

Over the years, Techdirt has written articles on people who insist piracy isn't a problem or has actually helped is now offering an audience of readers the chance to turn off its advertising in the good faith that everyone will then support them in other ways.

In discussing the exponential rise of the adblocker, the post mentions how badly some sites have handled it. For instance by blocking people who use Ad Blocker. Techdirt even claims they have been approached by multiple companies who claim they have ways to block the Ad Blockers. Techdirt is also quick to distance itself from those who are pro-content and ethical treatment of artists by distancing itself from the RIAA.

This seems like the exact wrong approach. It's somewhat reminiscent of the way the RIAA and MPAA reacted to the internet challenging their business models. Rather than listen, recognize what the public wanted and adapt, they whined, screamed about ethics and went to court. And how's that worked out for everyone? We've always said that those who adapt to these challenges are likely to do better, and part of that means actually listening to your fans and helping them do what they want. So that's what we're doing: if you choose to disable ads, you just need to go to your preferences and click a button and that should do it.

Interesting, right? The same people who have taken their elitist stance and have constantly called for artists who watched their income drop to adapt, are not only finding themselves in the same position, but are willingly doing so. Instead of calling for a diametric change in the way ads are served up (as well as their hits and impressions), Techdirt decided to avoid the problem all together, placing its faith in the same viewers it has been telling for years that free content (whether acquired through piracy or otherwise) is a good thing.

Techdirt's about to find out if that holds water. Just remember, guys-- there are only so many t-shirts you can sell in a month.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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COD's picture

The RIAA is pro-content and pro-artist? You guys aren't too interested in establishing credibility, are you?

Cat in the hat.'s picture

Adland's credibility was established over 18 years of posting relevant content and news for advertisers, holding the same position during this time. I'll venture a guess that this is your first visit.

Dabitch's picture

Very interesting. So basically, Techdirt just joined us back in 2004, where ad banners are switched off for logged in users, and hopefully the users donate to the publication. It's not a bad idea, to be honest.

Good luck with that, Techdirt. Sincerely, from us all at Adland.

JJ's picture

So you're mocking them for practicing what they preach. How obnoxious.

kidsleepy's picture

If by mocking you mean being realistic about ditching ad revenue in hopes of making up for it completely, then yes we are. If you mean actual mocking, you didn't bother to read the article at all. But by all means please keep astroturfing and please post more strawman arguments. We love those..

J.D. Huber's picture

It will be interesting to see how this pans out, as it' simply a new variant of the often mocked and failed paywall system. Users expect things for free, as in beer. To Quote techdirt themselves "with the rise of piracy came a considerable contraction of the traditional distribution models for media and the Internet started eating everyone’s lunch", and here we are without a payment model now that the constant sponsor known as banner advertising is failing to support the sites they've polluted over the years. Youtube has paid subscriptions, sponsored channels AND ad banners on everything with the help of Google. Everything old is new again, and people will soon be paying for the entertainment and news media that they consume, just as they did in the past.

Mike Masnick's picture

Just to clarify the comment from "dabitch" is wrong. This has nothing to do with logged in or logged out users. Either can turn off ads.

Also, for JD Huber, this is not even remotely a paywall, so not sure what you're saying. Content is still free and it will stay that way. And we've never relied solely on ads for revenue, and we haven't added anything new. All we've done is made the ads optional. That's it. You seem to be reading a lot more into it.

Dabitch's picture

Dear Mr Masnick, thanks for commenting to clarify some things, but please don't put scary quotes around the surname Dabitch in the future. I was of course referring to our own system when I said 'switched off for logged in users', apologies if that wasn't clear.

These days banner ads aren't incredibly lucrative, just speculation in the case of your publication Techdirt of course, but the sad fact is that ad revenue has been going down for all types of publications for years now, bot traffic, adblockers and malware carries a lot of the blame for that as we discussed in Digital Media is a fraud. I for one find it very refreshing that instead of panicking like so many other publishers have done in the wake of ios9's new ad blocking ability, and blaming the consumers for protecting their privacy by using adblocks, Techdirt turns to their readers for continued support in creating content for their readers. I'm sincere when I say good luck, if it works out, it allows for Techdirt's autonomy in editorial content away from sponsors, native advertising and a desperate chasing of the click for revenue, which hopefully only makes your content better. Incidentally these were the very reasons we chose to not have ads for users who supported our publication so many years ago.

Sport's picture

Techdirts readers seem tech-savvy enough to have used ad blockers for a while, and this announcement will bring them a lot of positive press. Not sure how to interpret Masnick's retweet of this.

Derek J Kerton's picture

This article, and most of the comments, make the mistake of assuming that: by offering the option for readers to turn off ads, most readers will.

I think they will not. Techdirt has a history of mild, non-obtrusive ads. Their tech-savvy readers mostly use ad blocker software as a general browser practice. Some of them will now turn off their ad blocker on Techdirt, to "feel out" how annoying the ads are. They will realize that they can BOTH turn off ad blockers, and not opt out of ads. Techdirt will probably increase their ad revenue from this.

And that's not even a reactionary measure. Techdirt is simply being remarkably consistent: Provide value, don't irritate or offend your users, and find a mechanism to share a piece of the value created. With that strategy, clickbait articles, top 5 articles, pop-over ads, auto-roll video ads all suddenly look pretty stupid.

Derek Kerton.

Disclosure: I am a contributing member of the Techdirt community, but not a paid employee. Heh. Funny that, eh? I contribute to a community for no financial remuneration. Bet you guys are baffled at how value can exist without a monetary exchange.

PS: To post this, I really have to 1) enable Flash on this page 2) to show a flash-based ad 3) that reveals a captcha. What crap. You are somebody who doesn't get it.

kidsleepy's picture

Not sure why we'd be baffled since Adland contributors have been contributing without financial remuneration since 1996. Thanks for being presumptuous, though. Let me know how that value pays your server costs. Oh, right-- you don't need to worry about that. Someone else does.

I know the astroturfers keep throwing the same point about Techdirt's consistency in all the comments and @mentions on Twitter but if you read the article and took the time to understand it, you realize I am not saying anything about Techdirt that suggests they are inconsistent.

My point was, if you give people a free option they usually take it. And now that Techdirt has done so, we'll see how that goes.

Should I explain it again or will this suffice?

Dabitch's picture

Hi Derek Kerton

Solve media, our captcha option that prevents us from being inundated by spam, while still leaving comments open to any reader passing by without requiring any sign-ups anywhere, should not be requiring flash at all, and I can not explain why it seems to have done so on your setup since I'm not driving your computer/device.
We're not a fan of the recent "lets close comments all-together" trend that so many publications have opted for, Solve has been our most effective help in culling spam, and works seamlessly on all kinds of devices.

Registered adgrunts (members) never see ads at all, and never have. Well, except the ones we want to watch. ;) They also don't see the captcha.

Looking forward to you returning in a few months to share your findings on the numbers of readers of Techdirt who whitelist Techdirt in Adblock, and the increase in Techdirts ad revenue. That will be a most interesting case study and I encourage you, or Mike Masnick since he's the founder and wrote the original piece, to share those numbers once some time has passed. Lots of people would be very interested to see the results of this, not just us ad-people. Cheerio!

Brett's picture

FWAI I'm on Safari and have uninstalled Flash, all I get it image-captchas (one was a GAP question)