In the classic Manic Street Preachers song ‘A Design for Life’, the phrase ‘libraries gave us power’ underlines how powerful and important it is to access knowledge.

The term was taken from the sign above Pillgwenlly in Newport, Wales. Access to the amount of knowledge that would fill a billion Pillgwenlly libraries is now literally in the palm of our hands thanks to our mobile phones.

Buying online is a well-established part of our DNA and has been for a long time. The term ‘just Google it!’ can be heard doled out to the uneducated in order to find out anything from cinema times to the settling of an argument. In my opinion, to have the power of knowledge at your fingertips IS one of mankind’s greatest inventions.

But most don’t know is that it comes at a price. Ask yourself this: why do we return to web sites?

  1. Quality website content
  2. Ease of use
  3. Quick to load
  4. Frequently updated
  5. Coupons and incentives
  6. Favourite brands
  7. Cutting-edge technology
  8. Games
  9. Purchasing capabilities
  10. Customisable content
Do we pay to visit these sites? No.

We visit these sites because their owners provide excellent content but they don’t give it away for free. Website owners have to pay for developers, designers, content writers and hosting, to name but a few.

How do they cover these costs? Through ad revenue.

Tim Elkington, chief strategy officer, IAB UK said: “Recently, a lot of the attention on digital advertising has been around the challenges, such as ad blocking. However, it’s clear to see the UK digital advertising industry is maintaining its strong revenue growth at a much greater rate than the overall economy. The fact remains, as consumers spend more time on connected devices, advertisers must increasingly direct their attention and budgets there.”

However, there are issues that have become prevalent over the last few years.

Ad-blocking, or ad filtering, means the ads do not appear to the user because they are using technology to screen out ads. Many browsers block unsolicited pop-up ads by default. Other software programs or browser add-ons may also block the loading of ads, or block elements on a page with ad behaviour characteristics (e.g. HTML auto play of both audio and video).

Approximately 9% of all online page views come from browsers with ad-blocking software installed, with some publishers having +40% of their visitors using ad-blockers.

We’ve all been subject to the annoying ads telling us we’ve won a £1,000 prize, or have seen the latest super hero film ad appear with a loud explosion making us jump out of our skin. But that’s the exception, rather than the rule.

For the sake of the free web where we get all this content without being charged, let’s start to love the ads, appreciating the skill and time that goes into them.

Let’s not block them.

By Matt Hopkins, head of digital, S3 Advertising

Originally posted on S3 Advertising, partner of Cardiff Business Week.