if you’re encountering problematic ads here…

Hey, y’all.

I know some of you have had problems with the ads here recently — video ads that automatically play sound without your permission and Flash ads that hang up your browser. My ad network is working on it, but there are also several things you can do that will help:

1. Ads with sound: Ads that auto-play sound are supposed to be turned off entirely on this site, but unscrupulous advertisers have found ways to send them through anyway. If you encounter one of these, I’d be grateful if you’d send me the URL the ad links to so it can be tracked down and removed. If you do that, it will usually be removed from the system that same day.

2. Turning on a Flash blocker should stop all of the problems people have reported. Here are links to Flash blockers for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari, as well as some alternate instructions that might be helpful.

3. Or you can stop video ads from playing automatically by following these instructions.

4. Or you could install an ad blocker if you’ve been having problems, and that should stop any issues too. (In theory, I’m opposed to ad blockers because ads are how sites continue to provide the content you’re reading for free, but where ads are causing problems for you, you have my blessing.)

Thanks for bearing with me during this. It’s something that’s currently frustrating lots of websites and that lots of ad networks are struggling with, and I know it’s a pain.

{ 55 comments… read them below }

  1. jennifer*

    Sorry you’re having problems! I didn’t even know that you ran ads as I use an adblocker for everything :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There aren’t any ads on mobile, because I decided the problems they were causing there were too disruptive to tolerate (those horrible auto-forwards to the app store, which are now apparently rampant all over the place), so I turned off mobile ads earlier this year. But if you read on non-mobile, yes.

    2. a real bob*

      Ok I knew that but I block everything except the counters on a few specific sites including AAM so my page hits count.

      If you’re seeing ads get through and have AdBlock Plus that may the be problem because they sold out to a few ad networks so the ads may be getting through the filter. I just uninstalled AB+ and installed AdBlocker which is a different, non-sellout company.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        I’ve been experimenting with uBlock Origins in Firefox lately and Adblock (not Plus) in Chrome. Both seem to be doing a good job filtering things out and letting me whitelist sites I want to support.

      2. Evil*

        AB+ has been fine for me, although now that I think about it I may have seen a few ads recently (I use Chrome). I was getting mostly the really annoying big flashy ones on pages (you know, the seizure-inducing ones that go like “you just won an iPad!”) so I decided I was done with that.

        1. a real bob*

          Yep! They are letting ads by Taboola and others through now. When you hit news sites, especially, you’ll see a row of ads across the bottom usually and sometimes on the right side but those are usually served up by Taboola.

      3. Fafaflunkie*

        On my actual computers (my desktop at work and at home) I installed uBlock Origin (Google it!) It’s the best annoyance blocker I’ve come across, and allows all sorts of whitelisting (with certain rules as well) to give sites that aren’t bombarding you with ads the green light to allow those that aren’t super-annoying. On my phone, I’ve kind of got to like AdBlock Browser — as long as you go into the settings to disallow “ads we like.” That option does work, as I learned today when I visited a site on my phone with AdBlock Browser that flooded the page with ads, along with the most annoying of all — ones that cover the page with a giant ad with a tiny “X” square which you’ll never tap, and call up the ad’s URL instead. GRRRR!!)

  2. Mabel*

    I was getting audio from ads as soon as I landed on a site (not necessarily AAM), so I changed my browser settings so that NO videos run unless I specifically run them. What a relief!

    1. KarenT*

      Awesome! I didn’t know you could do this. I hadn’t been spending as much time on this site as I’d like because the video ads kept crashing my browser. I followed the steps at the link Alison provided and the issue seems to be solved!

    2. Annoy Sumo*

      #3 used to work for me, but hasn’t recently. But #2 has fixed the issue.
      (Thanks Alison!)

  3. Mockingjay*

    Thanks, Alison! It’s so nice to read a webpage without interference.

    On a related note, may I say how much I like your page design? Clean, lots of white space, good spacing on the font, nice soft blue color for titles and links (noticeable, but not intrusive).

    These are the kind of things I try to incorporate in my document formats, since we read and file everything electronically.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yes! I also like the ad placement, when the ads are not doing things you (and the ad network) have said they shouldn’t – they’re there but unobtrusive by placement.

      I wish you and your ad network well in trying to get them to abide by the behavior restrictions they should be.

  4. Witty Nickname*

    If you want to get the URL the ad links to without actually clicking on the ad, you can hover over it, right click and choose “copy link location.” You’ll be able to just paste it into an email without going to the URL. That way you don’t artificially drive up the CTR and make advertisers think these types of intrusive practices actually work!

  5. Jonibug*

    Thank you so much for these recommendations. I’ve been reading the site for awhile but turned on adblock due to the autoplay ads. I want to support this site so #3 sounds like a great solution, which I just enabled.

  6. Anonymous Educator*

    On #4, AdBlock Plus is now defaulting to allowing what it calls “non-intrusive advertising.”

    1. a real bob*

      See what I wrote near the top. AB+ sold out and now lets several ad networks through by default.

    2. Jessica (tc)*

      You can turn that off in the settings. I’m a little annoyed that they updated and turned it on without telling users that they were doing it, but luckily I always check settings after anything updates to be sure nothing hugely different was added.

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        I don’t remember having to turn it off, but it’s off in my Filter Preferences thankfully. I haven’t noticed any changes, I still don’t see ads except on a few sites where I have disabled AB+.

      2. Shell*

        Really? When my AB+ last updated, it automatically opened to a new tab that informed me of the change to let some ads through.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          They actually implemented the non-intrusive ads a few years ago (around 2011/2012), so I’m not sure why they recently started telling people about it via the update page. I’ll put their FAQ on the ad-whitelisting (which has instructions to turn it off) in a comment below.

        2. LBK*

          Do you use AB+ or just AdBlock? I got that message with AdBlock, which is a completely separate entity (despite sounding like just the non-fancy version of AB+).

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            You can disable it in AdBlock, too. If you go into your extensions, click the “options” button for AdBlock, it should be right at the top of the General Options page. Just uncheck “Allow some non-intrusive advertising”. (They are using AdBlock Plus’s whitelists apparently, so the “non-intrusive” ads will be the same for both extensions/add-ons now.)

          2. Anonymous Educator*

            FYI: Last week, Adblock was bought out by a mystery buyer. Some people are speculating Adblock Plus. Not sure on that.

  7. granite*

    I’m guessing it’s complicated to set up, as it requires folks to log in, but one site I use has an option to use an ad free version of the site in return for a $10 per year donation. I love it. Those of us who can afford to support the service are given a very low pressure reminder to do so every year, and a great site is available free to everyone who needs it.

    1. Jessica (tc)*

      I know a lot of online bloggers/comic artists are using Patreon for this type of thing. They set goals, e.g., if they get to $xxx per month, then they turn off ads and so on. I don’t know how feasible this would be for you, Alison, but I would definitely be willing to give a monthly amount to support the work you do.

      I support several artists via Patreon and am always willing to add sites that I get a lot of benefit or enjoyment from on a daily (or near-daily, for some of the artists) basis. I’m even currently supporting one who just ended the comic I initially supported, because she keeps up a lot of great contact via Patreon and is letting us know how she’s using the funds to make her art better. Basically, I’m helping to support her being able to do something she loves, and it makes me happy to see that she’s able to do that even after ending her comic.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        I forgot to say that one reason I love Patreon is that everyone gets the benefit of an ad-free site if the creator has that as a goal for their site, even those who can’t afford even a one-time donation.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I appreciate it!

        I think it’s probably not the right solution for me, because the number of regulars (the people who would presumably donate) is dwarfed by the number of non-regulars who just come for cover letter or resume help and then leave. Currently their visits make up a huge portion of the site’s revenue, and that wouldn’t be recouped.

        Hopefully, though, the ads can just return to being unobstrusive for everyone, which is what they’re supposed to be!

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          That makes sense! However, I wouldn’t be bothered if you kept the ads and still had a Patreon page, even if perks were behind-the scenes things (more cat pictures? yes!) or the ability to ask a question once a month/year to get a short answer or even weekly tips for job hunting. You could do a higher tier that’s limited to one or two people for a resume look or something like that. I’m assuming most Patreon users don’t remove ads (only two sites I support did, and one only removed the very top banner ad that is above the comic, which actually helped the site just look better anyway), so that doesn’t have to be a carrot (although I prefer donuts over carrots).

          I honestly just want a way to support places that I can’t support by purchasing goods for whatever reason. I have purchased your ebook, but I still feel like I get more out of this site than that. I’m not trying to be pushy, just trying to think beyond ads to maybe be able to support this site in other ways. :) Your advice just help me get a really good position while I’m in grad school, and I do try to pay it forward by telling anyone and everyone about your site.

          (One comic I love never really has goods related to that comic that I want to purchase, for example, so when he finally started using Patreon, I was grateful to be able to support. He’s given me over 10 years of art that I love for free!)

  8. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    Thanks Alison!

    I have had problems with ads playing sounds in the past (and emailed you about it), but it hasn’t happened in several weeks. It’s heartening to know how much you care about your readers’ experience on the site. Good luck tracking down all the obnoxious people who try to sneak things by!

  9. Heather*

    oddly just now I had no issues and I didn’t change anything. Usually this site hangs up my browser like you wouldn’t believe and then shockwave crashes.

  10. ActCasual*

    I don’t know how others feel about this or how much you would have to charge to go ad-free, but I’d totally pay a subscription fee for this site. I’ve gotten so much value out of the advice and comments.

    1. LBK*

      As much as I love AAM and obviously visit tens if not hundreds of times per day, I’m hesitant about a pay model specifically because of the comments. I think I’d actually be more open to paying if I just came to the site for Alison’s advice, essentially turning it into kind of a daily newsletter that I was paying a subscription fee to receive. But it would be really jarring to get gated out of a community I’ve been an active part of for over a year (which I’m sure is short compared to the tenure of many other regulars). The discussion in the comments here is so thoughtful and passionate and I’d hate to have that potentially hamstrung by not having it as freely available to myself or others.

      I don’t know what the profitability of sponsored posts is relative to embedded ad revenue but if there were to be a change in the business model to reduce ad presence, I’d rather see an increase in those. I find them much less intrusive and the level of integrity is a lot higher than data mined ads being served through content networks – if Alison promotes a product, I generally trust that it’s a good product and that the company was professional and fair in their dealings with her.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No chance of me ever switching to a must-pay-to-access model, so don’t worry about that! Or at least no chance in any scenario that I can imagine. I think what ActCasual and others are suggesting is more about letting people to pay to access an ad-free version of the site, while the with-ads version would also remain.

        My hope, though, is to stick with the current set-up and just get the ad problems under control (which they actually are for most people — but I don’t love that some people have problems with them).

        1. ActCasual*

          Yep, that’s where I was headed. I haven’t had any problems at all with the ads though, so I’m happy either way.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          I’m not sure what the regular readership level is here. It’s high (as the comments would indicate), but I don’t know if it’s high enough to make a subscription model economically viable for Alison. Advertising is likely the best way to go, especially because sometimes commenters are not regular readers.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There are about 1.3 million unique visitors a month — so as you can probably tell by that, regular commenters are a pretty small portion of overall traffic. I think there are a lot of regular visitors who don’t comment, too, but overall yeah, I think that means ads are the best way to go.

  11. J.B.*

    I put a URL into moderation (no need to post). I am still getting the ads in chrome with flash blocked. In fact I have to unblock flash to run work related stuff. What I did block that seems to work was wildvine (under individual plugins).

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      I tried blocking Wildvine, but then I got a message saying I needed it to run something I was using for work. So I had to turn it back on. What I usually do is block Wildvine and Flash, read AAM, and then turn them back on when I am ready to do something else.

  12. Florida*

    There’s another thing we can do about these ads…we can click on one occasionally. Since Alison provides us with this great blog for free (and even tries to make the ads convenient for us), we can support her by clicking on the ads.

  13. Dog at Work*

    Huh. I have a different problem with ads on AAM in that I can’t get them to show even if I disable ABP completely (in Firefox, they show in Explorer).
    I don’t know how the hassle to reward ratio is, but I’d love it if your site had a donate button like Captain Awkward. That way, you’d still get the revenue from ads but readers who can’t/prefer not to see them have the option to send cash instead and enjoy your site ad and guilt-free.

  14. AW*

    Ads that auto-play sound are supposed to be turned off entirely on this site, but unscrupulous advertisers have found ways to send them through anyway.

    See, I don’t get this. They have to know that this results in:
    1) People blocking all ads
    2) People closing the window/tab and avoiding the site

    The best case scenario is people mute their computer so what do they think they get out of auto-playing ads?

  15. Scanna*

    The ads on your site are out of control. You should fix them if you want people to actually be able to enjoy your site. Buy ads that aren’t intrusive and people will be more likely to visit your site and less likely to use ad blocker programs when they do.

Comments are closed.