Dreaming the Impossible Dream? CancelAds Removes Display Ads from Online Content

Imagine a world where users aren’t irritated by online ads, yet publishers still make money from their content.

When you’re done laughing, go check out CancelAds. The basic idea behind their not-so-revolutionary but certainly unheard-of monetization scheme is to have blog subscribers pay small amounts on a recurring basis to read ad-free content online. In a world where free content is a given and what’s not free from publishers is made free by pirates, how could a concept like CancelAds survive? Read on to find out what we and CancelAds’ founders think.

To succeed, CancelAds needs to combat the dual threat of visual tune-out (users’ eyes are trained to avoid ad areas and zero in on content) and apps such as TidyRead and Readability that eliminate advertising, whether publishers like it or not.

According to the company’s site, there is definitely a market for the service. These users are not in the majority, but the folks at CancelAds believe there are enough users in this segment to sustain the revenue model.

“According to [an] Advertising Age survey, 69 percent of Internet users are not ready to pay to view their favorite sites ad-free. But it still leaves 31 percent of all Internet users who may choose to pay…This is a huge crowd of people who dislike the way all the websites are now monetized with advertising but understand that website publishers also need to make money.”

Granted, 31 percent of a group that comprises about a quarter of the earth’s population and is continually growing is pretty substantial. Still, revenues for publishers could really come down to visitor loyalty and the nature of the content.

Company rep Svetlana Gladkova wrote to us and speculated that certain sites would garner revenues nearing those of print magazines, saying, “These must be the sites that have numerous ads where people tend to spend a long time (playing online games, reading about fashion and celebrities, socializing). So we are targeting mostly the mainstream-focused websites, not those targeted at the early adopters who know how to block ads without paying better than the mainstream audience.”

“Though, of course, blogs targeted at early adopters have a large audience, and many will also benefit from using CancelAds because among their huge crowds of visitors there will be a certain percentage of loyal readers who will want to demonstrate their support by paying and enjoy the blogs ad-free as well.”

Ad-free sites are definitely more aesthetically pleasing, from a UI and design perspective. And an ad-free site would also have significantly decreased load time. But will CancelAds and their partner sites be able to make money?

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