Dear ad-supported website owner: the promise of content is what brought me to your site, but your advertising does it's level best to attract my attention away from that content. Which leads me to wonder: did you actually have something to say, or were you just trolling for eyeballs?
This thought came to me while I was reading yet another discussion about the merits and evils of ad-blocking. I've found myself unable to tolerate more than brief exposure to many websites without an ad-blocker over the last few years, so I find the responses on the pro-advertising side of the argument to be quaint in how they fail to completely miss the other side's point.
Most of us who use ad-blockers aren't going to change our behavior because someone makes an emotional appeal about the families of businesses supported by ad revenue, or because of a guilt-laden rant about how we're stealing under some ridiculous implied contract between content owners and readers. We simply don't care anymore. This is our last-ditch effort at making a medium usable for us, before we finally turn away from it. We're trying very hard to hide from sight the distinct lack of respect many content creators show their readers; it's a strained attempt to see the Internet as we'd like it to be.
I don't read the newspaper anymore, because of the ads strewn throughout the content, and an intentional "choose your own adventure" style of breaking up content that maximizes advertising exposure. Magazines are in a similar boat. (Although, I find European magazines to be far less obnoxious in this regard than American publications.) I rarely watch television anymore, because of the advertising in and around the shows. I only listen to the radio long enough to hear the weather forecast, because of ads that have ranged from annoying to enraging. (Blaring the sound of emergency vehicles or screeching tires in an ad, when much of your target audience is driving? Seriously?)
The unstated goal of any piece of advertising is to rip the reader's attention away from what they were really interested in, and focus it for a moment on something they likely don't give a damn about. It belies a complete lack of respect for the reader or viewer, and suggests that their sole reason for producing content is to ambush the consumer with unrelated garbage: it's nothing but Mahalo or a typo-squatter, a tawdry bait-and-switch that leaves the user feeling, well, used.
So, I block ads or manipulate content layout in my browser, because I have a hard time caring about the business model of someone who shows such contempt for me as a visitor. I feel a small twinge of sadness for businesses who use targeted advertising that carefully compliments their content - rather than distracting from it - who become caught up in this, but it is a case where the majority have ruined the situation for everyone. And, if this kind of thing continues, I'll tune out, just like I've done with other mediums when I reached the edge of what I could tolerate.
So, to those who say "the only way we'll have online content is through distracting advertising," I say: the only way I'll consume online media is without it.