Say I have a banner or sidebar advertisement on a small or personal website like a plugin download page, portfolio, or blog, nothing that needs to be too "professional" or "business oriented".

Would there be any benefit to having a small few word apology or explanation for the ad placed below/beside it, such as "We know you hate these, we do too, but it pays our bills" or "Ad revenue helps us provide timely updates", etc.?

Assume that this explanation would go in a place that wouldn't be used by other content anyway and it has enough space to not cause much visually clutter.

It would be quite similar to websites that ask you to turn off your Adblock because their ads are their only revenue source, except this apology would be displayed all the time. I imagine it may provoke a feeling of empathy with the user so as to be less annoyed with the ads.

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    If you make apologies for your advertisers they may decide to stop advertising on your site. If you go ahead with this then I suggest you think very carefully about how you word it. Sep 13, 2016 at 17:33
  • What about investing into serving proper ads instead? There are networks like The Deck and probably others that try to be as unintrusive as possible. You can also sell your own ads (a simple model of "your ad here for a month for that much $$$" is easy and does not require any infrastructure). Sep 14, 2016 at 2:30

4 Answers 4


Personally, I believe those statements are disingenuous.

If they really hated the ads they would find alternative means of making money. However, they don't and take the easy way out. Which makes the statement pretty false, clutters the screen with unnecessary information and is generally a waste of time.

The statements I've seen made by companies which detect ad block running are far more honest. "We can't show the content to you unless you're willing to pay for it by seeing these ads." So far, the sites I've seen which do this also provider a subscription model that eliminates the ads.

Which leads me to this: If you want to have a statement about "subscribe here to remove the ads" then by all means do that. Otherwise don't say anything.

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    Interesting point of view, I wouldn't typically think giving a subscription/paywall to remove ads would ever be a better UX. I was think simply appealing to users yet allowing them to block them (for free) would be a more well received implementation. I appreciate the insight!
    – DasBeasto
    Sep 12, 2016 at 21:55
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    Actually, there is middle ground here. When you detect an add blocker put up a message that says: "yes we're not fond of them either, but someone's gotta pay for our servers to run. So please unblock, or support us by buying one of our products <here>." Smashing Magazine takes this approach. Not all in one message by the way. The adblock driven "buy one of our products" is at the end of the article. Assuming that if you read that far you got something out of it and might want to support. Sep 13, 2016 at 6:42
  • This answer is based on personal opinion rather on previous research. In other words, its biased. Sep 13, 2016 at 13:15
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    Be careful using Adblock detection scripts... often they alienate the user base you are trying to detect and block. Provide quality content that users want to see. The users that don't care about ads will tolerate them, but those that block them will use and promote your site too... you won't get ad revenue from them but attempting to force them to turn the ads back on will very likely not work.
    – scunliffe
    Sep 14, 2016 at 3:18

There's no benefit. In any case, you'll lose.

See, there's nothing wrong with having ads, it's your right to have them. However, by justifying yourself you're educating your users to believe you're doing something wrong. So, basically you're creating a friction that didn't exist to begin, and your users will think that your site is not worth of having an ad, or they'll try to block them.

In short, don't include any messages. Just think as an user on the amount of ads you have, if they're excessive, annoying or interfering with your site's experience. Some testing would be advisable as well.

And if the ads are OK, you can even ask ads blocker users (or even AdBlock or the different ad blocking scripts) to whitelist your site


To me, it feels inherently wrong to apologize for the content you're including somewhere. (Imagine featuring apologies like this below ads in print publications.) It seems like you're acknowledging there is an issue (annoying ads), but rather than solving the problem, you're passing the burden onto the readers.

If your ads are noticably annoying, think about making them acceptable. Adblock's guidelines for acceptable ads are:

Acceptable Ads...

Are not annoying.
Do not disrupt or distort the page content we're trying to read
Are transparent with us about being an ad
Are effective without shouting at us
Are appropriate to the site that we are on

You should do an A/B test to get a valid answer.

Of course you need to have the existing traffic to do it.

I would suggest to try 2-3 different variations of the apology message and maybe different message positions. It would be an interesting experiment, and I will be happy if you can share the results and insights from it.

enter image description here

Here is explanation of what is an A/B test and how to do it.

P.S. image is taken from vmo.com

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    This answer is basically saying, "Do the research and figure it out for yourself." That's not an answer imo.
    – Christine
    Sep 13, 2016 at 17:47
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    An AB test only makes sense when you have a lot of visitors or a lot of time. There are lots of A/B test significance calculators out there -- try one out and see how many participants you need. It's very likely you won't have enough.
    – Tin Man
    Sep 13, 2016 at 21:25
  • @Hill Well this is the best thing he can do. Better than relying on biased personal opinions with zero experience on the particular case. Imagine if you are wrong and he gets much better revenue apologizing for the ads? We can never know for sure until he does the test. Sep 14, 2016 at 7:37
  • @TinMan Yes, when he is relying on ads for revenue probably he has decent traffic. That's why it is suitable to run A/B tests. Specially on the thing he gets his money from. Sep 14, 2016 at 7:51
  • @KristiyanLukanov - He's looking for a quick and dirty opinion to a simple question... not methods on how to conduct usability studies.
    – Christine
    Sep 15, 2016 at 17:31

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