On Justin.tv, and countless other sites, there is advertising. This is nothing new. Since almost the beginning of the web’s use by the common public, advertising has had a presence and has faithfully generated revenue for those sites so that they can stay up. This has created something of a meritocracy, where the sites with more traffic earn for money.
However, there is a phenomenon that has reared its ugly head and that is offering for-pay, premium accounts that lack advertising. Initially, I simply justified this as the site’s owners getting their income from another source, the user, rather than another organization buying space. On a recent episode of MacBreak Weekly, Merlin Mann stated that he felt paid, advertising free accounts were an abuse of the users and the advertisers. This was such a revelation to me that I felt it was worthy of a blog post.
Essentially, a site with advertising regards ads as a nuisance and a means to get money out of their regular users. They therefore are deliberately trying to annoy their users in order to elicit money from them. This has the added effect of treating advertisers as not partners, but tools for creating annoying, useless content. It also makes users despise ads and click through them, rather than pay attention to them.
Justin.tv does this and it is an abhorrent web design practice. It disrespects users and advertisers who choose to support the site in question. Any site that charges users money to make ads go away deserves neither money nor users. Speak up about this practice to any site admin that does this.