April 9th, 2013

How Ad Blocking Can Shut the Door on Free Genealogy Resources

Many of us use ad-blocking software for personal convenience; after all, if we have no intention of clicking on an ad, why should we need to view them? I have used ad blockers myself in the past, but only recently did I find out that they can actually damage the credibility of a website, and thus its place in search engine results. For all of us interested in free genealogy resources, it is crucial to understand how this works, because by using ad blockers on certain websites we could be shutting the door on those free resources and making them more difficult to find.

Many Sites Such as Obituarieshelp.org Depend on Advertising for Revenue.

Advertising revenue is how we are able to provide the many free genealogy resources that we do. Many ads are paid on a per view commission, and running an ad blocker when you visit sites that serve those ads consumes their resources (including bandwidth) without providing them with the revenue they need to keep operating. It is very much the same as eating at a restaurant and then leaving without paying for the food you ate. Imagine how many restaurants could stay in business if half the people visiting them left without paying!

For the first two years that ObituariesHelp.org was online, there were no ads whatsoever.  However, as the site grew, our operating costs in the form of infrastructure, bandwidth and resources also grew.  So to continue providing as many free resources as we could, we had a choice to make, either start running ads or shut down the site.

When You Block Ads on a Website, the Chain Reaction Can be Devastating.

Yes it can result in the loss of jobs, but more importantly, it can lead to a decrease in quality content, and consequently a decrease in precious free genealogy resources. Sometimes the only option a website that suffers a loss in advertising revenue due to ad blocking has is to run advertising that may be considered intrusive. It is not by choice that any website runs such advertisements, but a matter of survival.

Here at ObituariesHelp.org we try to minimize aggressive advertising, but it must be accepted that such ads are sometimes necessary.  We decline offers from advertisers with ads of a questionable nature on a regular basis.  You as an Internet user however, can minimize the need for intrusive advertising by simply not blocking regular contextual ads, at least on the websites you love and use on a regular basis.

Websites May Start Charging to View Articles and Resources

Another issue that arises when you use an ad blocker is your free resources, are no longer free.  Many websites whose visitors use ad blockers have set up “pay walls” so that anyone who wants to read an article or download a PDF, must first pay a fee to view the information or a fee to download the information they need.  Imagine paying for every article you want to read? To me, that does not sound like a better option than simply not blocking ads.

Subscribe to Sites That Offer an Ad-Free Experience

An option to blocking ads is to subscribe to a website that offers an ad-free version for members. A lot of time, talent, and hard work go into creating and maintaining websites. With sites that offer free genealogy resources that hard work includes hours of tedious research to locate and verify data before sharing it with you. As we surf the internet we sometimes forget that behind every website is a team or teams of various proportions, ranging from the individual to complete corporations. Many of those sites depend on advertising to various degrees, and because a huge number of internet users block ads, many have had to cut staff, content, or completely shut down because of losing their ad revenue.

If you use a site regularly and benefit from its content, don’t block ads. Show your appreciation of their hard work and research by subscribing if they offer.  Most people don’t block ads maliciously; they don’t even realize that they are harming the sites they love. The only way many websites that offer free genealogy resources can afford to do so is by making revenue from the advertisements on their pages. Keep those ad-blockers off, and you’ll keep the door to those free genealogy resources open.