Ad blockers are marvelous web browser plugins. In addition to saving users from dealing with ceaseless pop-ups, audio that plays automatically, and other annoyances ad blockers also protect users from malware. A recent study [PDF] published by the Simon Fraser University shows another reason to run an ad blocker: they can significantly reduce the data usage of your network:
A Canadian university claims to have saved between 25 and 40 percent of its network bandwidth by deploying Adblock Plus across its internal network.
The study tested the ability of the Adblock Plus browser extension in reducing IP traffic when installed in a large enterprise network environment, and found that huge amounts of bandwidth was saved by blocking web-based advertisements and video trailers.
This is especially important when you’re dealing with a service that requires you pay by usage, such as most modern cellular data plans, or building a network that will see heavy usage from numerous individuals, such as university networks.
Ad blockers are not well received by website operators who rely on them. It’s understandable because ad blockers directly cut into their profits. But it’s also unwise to rely on a revenue source that requires users to put themselves at risk of being infected with malware and pay more for bandwidth usage. If ad blockers are a threat to your revenue model then you should consider looking into other avenues to make profits.
I mention Feedbin periodically when the issue of website revenue comes up because it’s a great example of how a website can make money without relying on advertisements. Feedbin charges customers $3.00 per month or $30.00 per year to use its service. People are more than willing to pay money for a quality online service as demonstrated by Feedbin, Netflix, and Spotify. The advantage of a subscription model is that it’s a predicable cost, unlike the potential bandwidth costs incurred by serving advertisements, and greatly reduces the risks of malware infection.
Finding alternative revenue sources is going to become increasingly important as more people utilize ad blockers for security, reducing network congestion, and lowering bandwidth costs. Instead of expecting customers to face more risks and costs website operators need to being researching ways to stay afloat without ads. As with any market online services are constantly evolving and those who want to continue participating in it need to evolve as well.