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September 22, 2017
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  • AlexXSmith

    I read CT on a real Mac, so won’t affect me. It’s too hard to read longer articles or enjoy images from CT on a small screen.

    • Chris

      Do you believe that CT will die off for lack of income on the small screen but still be there on your real Mac?

      • AlexXSmith

        I suspect most of us read on a large screen AND if you read the article, it seems like CT has ways of dealing with this so are unlikely to die. I also recently read an article that said despite the popularity of smart phones, most folks still use computers to read the web. I’m looking for it but haven’t got the time to a complete search for the article.

        • Chris

          I read the article – thanks for suggesting otherwise :-)
          I got that it’s about the changing landscape of cycling media and how this trend towards blocking their revenue stream will impact the sites themselves. It will affect you regardless of where you’re reading it.

  • Michele

    Well written Wade. I’m the enemy here: I’m closely associated with Apple – but agree with you 100%.

    • I just bought a new iphone, use a macbook, have a useless iwatch. I can’t decide if I love them or if I hate them.

      • My3Cents

        I use android and Windows. I refuse to buy Apple products not because they are no good just because of their business model. Shame on you for purchasing the watch.

        • Pete

          And the business models of Google and Microsoft are far worthier…?

        • Dave

          You must work for Microsoft. I can’t think of any other reason for rejecting Apple for their business model but still putting up with MS.

          Say hi to Bill for me.

          • Michele

            I’m an Apple developer – part of my income is from Apple Inc. So I guess I could say I work for Apple.

            My main go to piece of hardware? I use a Surface Pro 3 i7 tablet with Windows 10.

            And as someone who has EVERY flavour of iOS device as well as 2 x iMacs and 2 x MBPs, can I say that aside from my actual developing, and using my Omni apps, I do everything else on my Surface. And yes, I have played with the iPad Pro.
            Been using Apple products for 20+ years in a professional capacity.

            I could provide you with a long list why I prefer the Surface. I couldn’t be bothered.

            • Dave

              No issues with some Microsoft products – the comment was purely about the inconsistency of rejecting Apple products out of distaste the company while still accepting M$.

        • donncha

          Oh dear…

      • Michele

        “useless iwatch…”
        I see you have finished your review you were working on. :)

      • scottmanning

        Should have got a very useful Pebble watch.

  • Nitro

    Excellent article… I’d personally far rather see an Ad and be able to make a conscious decision as to if I’m interested, than have them “hidden” in sponsored content that isn’t flagged as such, product placements that aim for subliminal attention etc

    I dread to think how many dollars it costs to generate and distribute the content for this site, and we should all understand the basic economics of unless you guys have revenue coming in, you don’t have the money to spend pushing content out

    As Richard Branson once said “Many people say that companies only exist in order to make a Profit; In reality, companies need to make a profit in order to continue to exist”

    • Thanks Nitro. The entire online publishing industry is talking about these trends and it’s worrying. I think a niche like the cycling industry might be able to adapt much better than others simply because there’s such a strong product offering, and getting reviews, competitions, etc are what brands are really paying for – not the banners.

      I’ll be intentionally vague, but to give you an idea of how much it costs us to put up content on CyclingTips it’s quickly approaching $1M per year. Journalists, photographers, editors, hosting costs, etc. Content is free to consume, but it’s labour intensive to create. But we love it.

      • Simon

        Yes as I thought nothing is “free”. As much as I hate to admit it, Murdoch was right. To keep online going and save journalism you must pay. I happily subscribe to Fairfax (although the standard of “journalism” would have Graham Perkin spinning in his grave) and just like I did for over 40 years when buying cycling magazines if I have to pay to access CT I would. Ads don’t bother me as I turn the sound down til it finishes. :)

        • Nitro

          Didn’t someone once say about the Internet “If you’re using a free service you’re not the customer – you’re the product” ?

  • Pete

    The primary reason I use an adblocker is because of (obnoxious) ads and scripts that are embedded in many sites. In terms of invasive scripts, CyclingTips has been of the worst offenders. I can detect scripts injected from 22 different sites into this page alone, including tracking scripts from chartbeat, doubleclick, eyeota, facebook, google, twitter, and more scripts from jwpsrv and tekblue. In this post-Snowden age, I find it difficult to accept this level of tracking from anyone. Hence, I block scripts (and ads).

    I appreciate that income is generated from ads, so I’ve attempted using things like Flattr in the past. However, there are not many websites that have opted in. Alternatively, I’d donate directly to CyclingTips if possible. Perhaps as part of a yearly drive.

    • Hey Pete, there is one tracking script we use and it’s eyeota (which tracks anonymously profiles for retargeting. Nearly every publisher on the web who sells advertising uses these). The rest are not tracking scripts.

      • Pete

        I appreciate that it may not be intentional on your behalf, but having scripts injected from third parties allows tracking by them. They just don’t share the data with you. You can read more here, for example: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/09/online-trackers-and-social-networks

      • Darwin

        Wade you really think you have one tracking script on your site? You are very wrong.

      • Paul Jakma

        I run a JavaScript filter and I whitelist only those scripts that are needed for core rendering and functionality. I block scripts from domains that have anything to do with tracking. So for CyclingTips that’s stuff related to CyclingTips and Disqus. Your pages additionally are trying to load scripts – directly or (often) indirectly (via 3rd parties) – from:

        graph.facebook.com: no thanks
        tekblue: Seems to be an adware site. Maybe implicated in hosting malware (inadvertently?)
        jwpsrv: Not sure, maybe related to JW Player, but why do I want video on this page? Ads? Also, maybe analytics related.
        eXelate.com: Nielsen tracking, no thanks.
        Quantcast.com: Tracking. No thanks.
        Chartbeat.com: Tracking. No thanks.
        Goole Analytics: Tracking. No thanks.

        I want to see journalists and publishers who create content I enjoy get paid and make a decent living. However, if you ask me to have my computer trust your website, then you need to respect that trust, and not foist lots of crap on me, even unwittingly (I appreciate you may not have looked into what stuff 3rd party scripts you use are then asking your users’ computers to load).

        You’re asking the users to download all the content your webpage references, but we are in *no way obliged* to go out of our way to download additional scripts and content beyond the page we visited. We users are much less likely to do so if publishers’ ask us to download scripts that abuse our privacy through tracking, malware, etc.; or abuse our computers – e.g. scripts or videos that burn up CPU time and hence battery time (which is Apples’ concern I gather).

        Let’s be clear on this, this is a 2-way-deal: Users should respect the publishers need to make money and play nice, but for that to be possible the publishers need to *respect the users*. And currently publishers often do NOT. Hence the rise of consumer-friendly add-blocking software.

        FWIW, I would subscribe to CyclingTips and pay for an ad+tracking free version of the website. There are least 3 other content/reportage websites I pay for in this way. What have you got to lose? You can still show ads to non-subscribers.

    • Michele

      Pete .. what software are you using to detect these scripts?

      • Pete

        I use a combination of NoScript and uBlock Origin. The former is pretty hardcore, but the latter is relatively easy to use.

    • ChuckD59

      I’m just a lurker mostly here, but love this site. Even though I’m in the States ; ).
      But this is an issue that really sticks in my craw (as we say). As someone who was on the internet before there was a WWW, I’ve seen it’s evolution from an academic (ok, and military) experiment to the economy-driving machine it is now. I saw it in the initial white papers I read in the early 90’s on this hyper text thing that this would one day become what it is, and the potential for abuse.

      And here we are. Being abused.

      I empathize with the need for ad-generated income, and I recognize that with good resources comes good content (often). But I have no sympathy for tracking and other nefarious tactics the advertisers have demonstrated. I resent having to see any ads if I’m a paying consumer, as I am at several sites to the tune of US35.00/month. You got my money, stop the ads. I resent having idiotic flashing, click-bait things flying and flapping around my screen competing for my attention when I’m trying to read the content I came for. There are prominent news sites I will absolutely avoid because they’ve become unreadable (looking at you Bicycling! And HuffPost). And don’t get me going on the use of Flash in ads and LSO’s.

      So sorry, I have little sympathy for web sites lamentations on their ad-generated revenue. Maybe when they start doing a better job protecting those they wish to attract, that made them popular, rather than acting as facilitators for sleazy marketers, then I’ll stop using ad-blocking software and custom host files.

      It works both ways.

      • Larry @CycleItalia

        I feel the same way. As usual, if the advertisers are given an inch they take a mile so ads are either accepted or blocked, meaning some good guys/websites lose because of the abuse by others. Subscriptions are a tough call, just like with paper cycling magazines there are too many of them fighting over the same eyeballs. I happily pay for Rouleur and would happily pay for a single website with equal quality content, but I’ve yet to find one I think is worthy of a subscription fee.

  • Jason Berry

    I use uBlock Origin, but for publishers whose content I appreciate and read regularly (such as CyclingTips and The Guardian) I disable the ad-blocking. So long as native advertising is obvious, I don’t mind it too much, as I do realise that much of the content I enjoy would simply not exist without such revenue streams.

    • Michele

      That’s how I view things.

      That said … I hardly use uBlock when I’m using Chrome. Then again, the websites I go to – after doing some analysis – have very little in the way of ad content etc, so I don’t bother with it.

    • markpa

      I use AdBlock in Chrome but I’ll follow Jason’s lead and allow CT and The Guardian (it’s invaluable with RWC on).

    • Dave

      Same here.

      I’ve previously blocked a few selected ads on CT when they had some flashing ones, but I would never consider the nuclear option unless Wade did something to deserve it.

  • echidna_sg

    I only start blocking ads when a site introduces pop-ups or pop-overs. Hate those things with a passion!
    Otherwise, I simple accept this is how they make their money… I even choose to go to wiggle or chain reaction or whatever through an add link as I also know that earns a site some coin…

  • jules

    you should start blocking or otherwise compromising your content delivered via the iOS 9 platform. really, they arguably need content just as much as you need advertising. while Apple is unlikely to reverse their business model due to anything CT does (not that I don’t think you’re powerful!), readers may then elect to read CT on other platforms – thus preserving your ad exposure/revenue. if enough content providers start doing it, Apple may have to reconsider their approach.

    I am suspicious of native advertising. while I accept it’s an ingrained part of the media landscape these days, it’s the extent to which a publisher relies on and pushes it that puts their credibility at risk. I think CT’s brand would take a hit were we to see Wade doing a Hot Lap and afterwards looking into the camera and saying “I was 3 seconds faster after drinking this Wiggly cranberry juice!” some of the native advertising on free-to-air TV these days makes me want to throw up.

    • Darwin

      Apple didn’t create the ad blockers they only created the ability for them to be used in mobile safari. There were already other browsers in the App Store with ad blocking.
      Oh and by the way Marco Arment still thinks people should use ad blockers. He has been very clear in that. He just didn’t want to be the arbiter.

  • Flash

    I was blissfully unaware of a lot of this world, it seems we are really just pawns in a much larger game, like you say Apple controlling what people see and the news content etc etc.
    They will only be doing it to make more money long term.
    The hard thing is (and this is a generalisation) that a lot of people want things for nothing, I see this everyday in my work. People want the same quality at a lower and lower price, this can only end in grief when people go out of business etc.
    Wade, I must admit the ad’s do drive me crazy on websites, especially those god dam gambling ones (bet 365 – who cares). It makes me go to another website.
    I know some of your followers get hung up you guys disclosing, you used specialised bikes given to you etc. So therefore there is a conflict of interest.
    I couldn’t care less about some of that stuff, its the story etc that matters to me. I don’t come to research bikes or my next cycling purchase from cycling tips – I love the stories and the adventures etc etc.
    So get rid of some of the annoying ad’s, but make use of the other industry participants to help fund your business.
    Good luck, I hope you find a way to survive the jungle, we need small businesses to thrive.

  • Darwin

    Apple is far more interested in a major improvement is use of its devices to owners than the minuscule amount of money they get from advertising. Tracking and malware are now part of ads as well as long load times and much higher use of bandwidth than necessary. It’s a lame excuse to say they are doing it for any other reason. Ad blockers stop all the tracking and malware associated with ads.

    • I’m afraid I disagree. Google’s ad revenue in 2014 was close to $60B (as in billion US dollars). Minuscule?

      • Pete

        The difference is that Google’s primary income is from ads, whereas Apple makes most of their money from hardware. There is certainly advertising income for Apple, but I’d guess it’d be orders of magnitude smaller than what they make from hardware.

        • Yes, it’s about a quarter of Apple’s revenue, but still very significant. Apple needs ways to keep growing, and advertising revenue is massive. It’s consistently been 1-2% of US GDP for over 60 years now. http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-03-03/advertisings-century-of-flat-line-growth

          • Pete

            Oh, sorry, perhaps I was unclear. I was comparing Apple’s revenue from advertising, with Apple’s total revenue from all sources. I think that was Darwin’s point, that Apple weren’t massively shooting themselves in the foot by blocking ads.

            • Hamish Moffatt

              But Apple won’t be able to keep growing their hardware business (their market share is already on the decline) so they will look to other sources of revenue eg advertising.

              • Pete

                I don’t know a lot about it, but I would have thought most of Apple’s advertising revenue would be from users of their hardware anyway? Having said that, perhaps we move to “ad-supported” hardware, similar to (some) Amazon Kindles.

    • pedr09

      I think Apple is very interested in improving its user’s experience on its products but I agree with Wade that this is a secondary effect for them, albeit a good one. Their main agenda is sliding a knife between Google’s ribs. Steve Jobs may be dead but I suspect that Apple would still love to go ‘thermonuclear’ on Google. This may be the way.

  • Mark Blackwell

    I’m a big fan of Marco Arment and place a lot of store in his guidance on this matter (indeed my worlds are colliding!). The problem for reputable sites like CT is that people are likely to use ad blockers indiscriminately… they will block ALL ads (and won’t care or understand how it works or the consequences of that decision). The Buzzfeed et al experience will drive users to block ads and small sites will get caught in the crossfire. Marco has decided that the correct ethical stance is not to support this destruction, and I think he’s right… but sadly I don’t think it will matter.

    Take a look at what happened to Adobe Flash for an instructive case study. It has more or less disappeared from the web, largely because Apple took a strong point of view about a bad technology. The same could happen with ad blocking.

    FWIW, I don’t think this is driven by Apple’s desire to make money from ads. Apple have comprehensively proven with iAd that they just don’t get ads… it’s a messy, icky, B2B-sales business and I can’t imagine that many execs in Apple would covet a role in it, so it just won’t happen. Kudos in that business comes from revolutionary hardware and software.

    • Hamish Moffatt

      I’ve been using Adblock Plus for years, and I use it everywhere (though I’ll try being a bit more discriminate). So many sites are just horrible and unusable without out. For example, theage.com.au – even though I’m a paid subscriber there are still ads everywhere and load time is terrible. Plus, the tracking/sharing between sites is getting more creepy by the day.

      On slow connections all the ads and tracking is making the web unusable. I was in Vanuatu a couple of weeks ago, where the limited public wifi hotspots were all completely overwhelmed. Using a browser without ad blocking (my Android devices), lots of sites never finished loading.

      The ads on this page of CT are quite stylish and unobtrusive. But there’s over 200 individual HTTP transactions and almost 5Mb of data transferred, for some text and a main image of 500kb…

      • Pete

        The one that I found obtrusive was the drop-down ad that stuck to the top of the window even as you scrolled down. Screen real estate is so prized, but this obscured a fair proportion. Not to mention that “PageDown” missed content. Fortunately I could block it with a custom filter (in uBlock Origin).

        • Hamish Moffatt

          I don’t see one of those on this page, but I have on others, and I agree about the usability aspects.

          • Pete

            Hm… After disabling the script-blockers, I don’t see it now either. Perhaps it only pops up once per time period. FWIW there’s also CylingTip’s scripted banner that follows you, which I find a little obtrusive. (It’s not that hard to press “Home” to scroll to the top.)

            • Hamish Moffatt

              Today the Giro della Donna banner is taking about a third of my phone screen and I have animated GIFs from Chain Reaction and Giant. :(

  • Hakan Fondo

    You must block ios9 to view site. Users complains to apple, and they will protest apple, company backsteps

    • Dave

      As someone who views CT from both a computer and an iPad and who has not gone for ad blocking software on my iPad as yet, that would prompt me to block all ads on CT on my computer in retaliation.

      Previously, I’ve only blocked a few selected ads on CT on my computer – flashing ones to be specific. Unless CT did something to piss me off, I would never consider the nuclear option.

    • donncha

      iOS9 does not block ANY ads by default.
      The user has to go and download an ad-blocking app, and then configure Safari to use that ad-blocker, so blocking all iOS9 users is a stupid idea.

      • Michele

        It’s also still very ‘buggy’ on Safari … until website developers iron out their sites.
        Try and book a Virgin Australia flight using Safari with the ad-blocker turned on … you can’t. Hangs on process payment screen.
        Also been some issues with one of the Banks. Can’t remember, but know it’s not ANZ.

        • Pete

          I’d guess that’s an issue with the filter set, not the blocker per se.

  • jon

    Statistically speaking, how often do CT readers wonder into those click-n-bate trash sites? I’d think those are two very different demographics? Just based on behaviors alone?

    • I see my mates sharing that type of stuff around social media all the time. What gets people hooked is that it’s relatable and they tag friends, so it spreads like wildfire. It kills me…

      • jon

        Oh man, I’d block any one of my friends as soon as I see them share anything that is “click-n-bate” in nature, you know headline such as “…what happen next is shocking!!” or “…will melt your heart”.

        As a side note, there is this hoax on Facebook where people thought FB was going to start charging users. It’s spreading like infectious disease at the moment here in the US, not sure if it reached Australia yet, but I guessed I’ve blocked enough people on Facebook and that I didn’t see a single share today.

  • alexroseinnes

    I block ads, but I am also willing to pay for content just like I did in the olden days when i bought newspapers and magazines. If a media outlet has a loyal audience they should be able to monetise it, but in the future it won’t be via the display ad revenue model. These are forces of creative destruction at work. Display ads were a stop-gap measure right from the start, because newspapers rushed into web publishing like fools and gave content away for free. It has mostly been abused since then, via pop-up ads and web tracking. Also the nature of the web means that you essentially have infinite ad inventory and the model has been dying for a while. The adblock thing is hardly a surprise, either, many people have been warning about it. The good thing for a site like Cycling Tips is that it doesn’t rely on ad networks – this is a race to the bottom.

    Buzzfeed do create a lot of rubbish, but they do some serious journalism, too. Peretti and Smith have both said that they don’t care where articles are read – they don’t even have a proper homepage.

    Platforms are going to win this fight, but there will always be the need for content. Is it so terrible to publish on Facebook, Snapchat, or Apple News if you are getting a share of the revenue? Apple have made many, many app developers very happy. However, niche publications create the best native advertising – it doesn’t have to be crass and obsequious. And I’m not convinced that the subs model won’t work.

    Ad blocking is here to stay, and it will get more pervasive.

    • jules

      subscriptions are problematic. the bottom line is that it’s hard to justify pay-subscribing for one service, when another is freely available. now that’s arguably unfair on a niche publisher who’s worked hard to build a unique offering, but still – it has to be pretty unique to overcome the mental hurdle of paying for something you can get for free elsewhere. or cheap. but arguably the bigger problem is that it blocks prospective new users from experiencing your product sufficiently to justify subscribing to it. you can use trial free periods, but depending on how you set them up, they may still block the serendipitous nature of attracting new readers who stumble upon your publication (i.e. they can’t be bothered subscribing to trial).

    • I agree with most of what you say. The platform is what will win. Except they’re much more closed than they used to be. Google owns the web, and Facebook and Apple are pushing readers and publishers to their apps. The problem is that they will own the publisher’s relationship with their audience, not the publisher. Facebook did the biggest bait and switch in history when they had brands and media buy their audiences, and now they’re charging them to access their audiences. There’s no reason why they won’t do the same when they offer them a share of the ad revenue, then take that away from them. Surely they would realise that won’t be good for anyone?

      I’m just happy we’re small and in still control of what we do.

    • Anon N +1

      “. . . in the olden days when [you] bought newspapers and magazines” the amount you paid basically covered the cost of printing and mailing. As you probably remember, those newspapers and magazines were full of advertising, probably coming in at more than 50% of the column inches. Since the news stand/subscription price paid for the printing and delivery, it was the ads that paid for the content which far exceeded the cost of printing and delivery.

      • alexroseinnes

        oh great thanks, i know how the print media business model works. nowhere did i say that subs would replace ad-revenue, just that the revenue would augment it. the rest is paid for by native advertising or other forms of site sponsorship.

  • Simon Gamble

    I’m sure there will be many ways to get around the Apple ad blocking for advertisers but it will mean a departure from ad services like Google ads.

  • Robert Merkel

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of those stating that they’re happy to pay hard cash for content, but you seem to be very much in the minority at this point in time.

    Crikey (incidentally, another reasonably successful small Australian digital media site, one of the few that’s lived primarily off subscriptions for many years) just posted a report about an Essential Media survey examining Australians’ willingness to pay for online content.

    In short, only about one-third of respondents said that they would, and far fewer said that they currently do so.

    • Michele

      Might want to fix the hyperlink Robert [slightly wrong] … 404.
      Though I do find it funny that the supposed header is ‘you get what you pay for’. I get nothing :)

      • Sean

        remove the quote included in his URL

        • Michele

          I know .. read the page. :)

  • Chris Wahl

    This is why i love CT! You’re the front banner of new topics to dicuss related to cycling. It’s well written and i miss these kind of articles on every other cycling portal.

  • dcaspira

    Wade, I’m not up to speed with this – is this apple etc, basically repeating itunes? but this time with ads – centralising all the fragmented providers to one?

    • donncha


      All apple has done is added some code to their web browser, Safari, which will allow third-party developers to write ad-blocking apps for iOS.
      In order for an ad to get blocked, the owner of the iPhone/iPad has to go and download an ad-blocking app from the App Store, go to their Safari settings, enable ad-blocking and choose the ad-blocker app.

      Basically, this ability to use an ad-blocking extension has existed in all desktop browsers for years and years. All that’s happened now is that Apple have brought this functionality to their mobile browser. Importantly, as outlined above, it is OFF by default, so if you’re on iOS8 now and you upgrade to iOS9, you’ll still see all the same ads you see today. The only way that will change is if you explicitly decide you want to block those ads.

      • The significance to Apple doing this is that it’s a bigger play to put the content into their own news aggregator.

        • donncha

          Some content. Their News app is interested in content from the likes of NY Times etc., not CyclingTips, so that’s probably not relevant to you.

          As for ad-blocking, read this article and you get the point of it from a user’s perspective.

          The problem is that advertisers have been taking the piss for years. A publisher signs up with an ad platform and they place ads on the publisher’s site. They also place trackers, extra Javascript. Maybe he signs up to an analytics site, more tracking, more javascript. Maybe he signs up to more than one ad platform, or he decides to allow a pop-over in exchange for a bit more cash, etc. etc. All of a sudden, the content the user is coming to see comprises 10% of the shite that gets downloaded to their computer. Maybe not a big deal on your desktop with a 100GB/mth plan, but could be expensive on your mobile with bugger all data (and slower download speeds, and all those scripts – some of which phone home – affect battery life too).

          So, despite the “Apple wants everything to go through their news app” conspiracy theory, the actual fact of the matter is that ad-blocking on mobile is a very strong user benefit. And it’s only a benefit precisely because plenty of ad networks have gone full retard for years, and show no signs of reigning themselves in.

          What will happen in the short term is that the full-nuclear option will be used. All ads blocked, all the time. Then, there’s be an incentive for at least one ad network to come to its senses and have a code-of-conduct where they publish exactly what they will permit to be placed on your site. They’ll then get whitelisted and publishers will switch to them instead, and perhaps other ad networks will follow suit. Right now, ad networks are in a race to the bottom of ho can be the scummiest, sleaze bag operator, hoovering up as much information about the reader as possible and doing whatever it takes to ensure the ad is seen. No more.

        • dcaspira

          No sure if these guys are on your radar as you progress, but worth a look, best of luck: https://huckberry.com/our-story

      • Hunter

        Exactly, and to put a little more perspective on it, Apple just enabled a feature on a device/devices that have less than 4% market share that all the other devices from other manufacturers and their own (macs) have had available for a decade (or more).

  • Christian Requin

    In my opinion, it’s a useful tool to have

  • icepro

    Are CT going to have a presence within the News App? https://developer.apple.com/library/prerelease/ios/documentation/General/Conceptual/News_Publishing_Guide/BecomingaNewsPublisher.html

    Below an example of how the ‘channel’ is presented. Very easy to read, images hide as you drag up.

    • Thanks for the info. I’ll definitely check it out.

  • Johnny

    CyclingTips is one of the few Websites I’m willed to pay for. You could try to set up a voluntary option to pay for the content to get ad-free access. There’s one german newspaper, which was ad-free before and introduced this model to remain free for everyone. Admittedly it’s not been a success so far.


    • Thanks for the kind words Johnny. Let me tell you, we’ve definitely thought about it and I wish we could charge, but I just don’t think it would work. With Spotify being around $10/month, Netflix $7/month, and all the other excellent subscription services we have for so cheap, paying to read this site is a hard sell.

      • Johnny

        Ok, you are probably right. But there are quite some features -in my opinion – you could consider. Perhaps downloadable images in higher resolution in your photo-galleries. Or more frequent updates of the secret pro, etc.

      • Paul Jakma

        Why not just try it? What is there to lose by adding an ad/tracking-free subscriber option? Need have no affect what you (try) to display to non-subscribers, surely?

  • RMCA

    There is a site that looks the same with/with-out content blocking.
    http://inrng.com/ looks the same with blocking on.
    The reason for this is, The inner ring hosts the ad. This is why 3rd party blocking does not work.
    If Cycling tips hosted the ads, they to would pass through 3rd party blockers.

    The ads on ad supported content should be seen, which i see as different from letting 3rd parties track me from your site to other sites.

    To me there is an easy fix, 1st party hosting of ad content and no tracking.

    • The problem with that is an ad server (eg. Google DFP) is what manages all the ad inventory and ad serving. It’s easy if you have one or two advertisers, but when you need to serve and track clicks, impressions, times, etc for advertisers, it’s a huge task that only an ad server can perform.

      • Mike Williams

        This model will have to change…currently outsourcing your revenue collection to Google and downstream ad servers means you have no control over the ad content, tracking, performance, etc. Your visitors have no choice but the nuclear option. Google needs to provide the site owner with more control of the ad serving — they have more to lose in this battle (which is probably Apple’s strategy) so they will adapt.

        • Google just provides one of the many available ad servers on the market. Google wants everyone to use theirs, so they give their service away for free. Most others are hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month. Ad blockers are designed to block them all.

          • Mike Williams

            I understand why you would use Google’s services but they need to provide: you with controls on the amount and type of ads and tracking associated with your site; visitors with a way to specify (per site) what is acceptable; and an arbitration feature in Chrome that selectively blocks ads in accordance with these preferences. I am personally at “Adcon” Level 5 (blocking everything) using Chrome to deliver the message that I am fed up with the “advalanche”. Google knows how many ad blockers are in use and at some point this is going to leave a mark on their revenues. You need to complain to Google. P.S. please don’t ask to be white listed because last time I looked your site was pushing 10 ads per page which is pretty bad.

          • Mike Williams

            fyi: the ad blocker (adblock) I use is now promoting an “Acceptable Ads” program where they won’t by default block ads from sites that don’t abuse this model…you might want to look into this.

    • Pete

      In uBlock Origin, I just add the following line to my filters. It’s now blocked.


  • Michele

    Thanks Wade for doing this piece.

    My favourite cycling app is ProCyclingStats. I live on there [when not here].

    When you see a tweet like this, you start to realise how serious the problem could be.


  • Tim Johnson

    Great article – and a good prompt too – I’ve just whitelisted cycling tips.com.au in AdBlock on my desktop web browser.

  • jgrosser

    Online ads are not comparable to print ads. Print ads don’t track you, and they aren’t part of an online infrastructure that effectively steals personal information and uses it for private commerical gain. I view online ads as the precursor to dystopian worlds as in 1984 and the movie Minority Report. When online ads are changed to work more like print ads, I’ll stop blocking them.

    • Winky

      My “personal information” in the form of what ads I click on, and what I buy from Amazon (for example) is only valuable to me when someone uses it to present me with ads or suggestions that interest me. If I keep this information private, it is valueless to me, or to anyone else. I have no problems with tracking in this manner. If others gain from using this information, so do I. Win-win.

  • Winky

    If advertising is to stay, it needs to remain unobtrusive and targeted. I’m not offended by being tracked if it is to produce an ad stream that interests me. If the ads can also be entertaining, then that’s just a bonus. I was pleased to see that advertising is only 1% – 1.5% of GDP. I can live with that.

    One of the problems here is that quality sites with unobtrusive advertising like CT, will suffer as people install ad-blockers really aimed at the sites with idiotically intrusive advertising. For me, ad-blockers really only need to stop pop-ups, pop-overs and distracting animations (subtle ones don’t bother me). If we could agree on that, the internet would be just fine. But we won’t. Sites will host obtrusive ads whilstever they think it will benefit them, and we will respond by installing ad-blockers. Ultimately, it may benefit no-one.

    Having said that, I’ve never had the slightest interest in installing any sort of ad or tracking blocker. The sites I like to visit just don’t offend me with their advertising. If I stumble across an ad-infested site, it is just a signal to me that I won’t much like it and tend to move on pretty quickly (collections of photos taken “at just the right moment” notwithstanding – those are pretty funny)

  • velocite

    I expected that after the initial uncertainty and confusion that we would all get used to paying for online content. I recall some commentary to the effect that a part of the model might be paying a small amount per article, much in the way we pay for phone calls. These days I do pay subscriptions to several sites, for example New Matilda and The Conversation, because I wish to support them. I pay Wikipedia from time to time too. I would certainly pay a voluntary subscription to CT. The only way to find out how many would pay how much is to give it a go, I suppose.

    And FWIW I would rather pay a $100 sub and get a cool $20 TShirt than pay double what I would otherwise pay for a pair of socks.

    • velocite

      Fifteen or so years ago I paid money for a TShirt that had ‘garage.com’ written on it. Cool then because it was associated with Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley/Apple guru. ‘Rococorba’ might make an OK T legend..

  • Derek Maher

    I hate pop up ads and tracking cookies.I don’t block CT .I tend to clean out cookies and trackers useing slimbrowser tools after visiting the site and when finished online sweep my computer with C-cleaner .I know sites need the ad money but they should also try not to use the in your face pest type of ads.

  • Ok, I’ll chime in here. Hello – my name is Sean and I use AdBlocker…except on CT, Four-Pins, Radavist, and a couple other fashion websites. The sites where I value the content, imagery etc…and where it’s not all crazy and in my face – the AdBlocker is removed. I like how the Radavist has setup his site where it’s part his content and the other half is BuzzFeed in nature, but highly edited. The CT perspective is top-notch, and I have to say – I’d pay for it if it was an option. This coming from someone that (shame on me) has never donated to NPR. On the other hand, CyclingNews used to be a super high-quality site like CT and Inrng – now – there’s so many spelling & grammatical errors and a much weaker editorial perspective it’s what I read over lunch in 20 min vs enjoying in the morning first thing like CT & Inrng. Keep up the great work, and if you do put up a pay barrier – let me know – I’ll pay. Oh – and bring back the LUFT hat – I’ll buy 3 of those!!

  • Red Tornado

    Really don’t mind the ads that appear on the periphery or top “banner” of website/web pages. If I see something interesting I can pursue it; if not they don’t hamper my reading experience.
    What I simply cannot stand are the ones that pop up after you’re about 1/4 of the way through an article/story/report/etc. Many times the ad is so large you can’t read the text. Some even go so far as to make the close button difficult to find. These are incredibly annoying and basically want to make me NOT support the company advertised.

  • Allez Rouleur

    Thank goodness I just picked up an NOS Nokia 2128i. I’m 35 and I use a phone to…make phone calls. I don’t text much and if I do, I do it from my computer to a friend’s phone. I don’t use my phone for anything aside from…phone calls.

    I use my laptop for reading cycling news.

    Wanna talk about a watershed moment? Smartphones and wifi…they’ve made most humans narcissistic texting/tweeting/photo snapping/instagramming zombies in a decade. What other invention in human history has made so many people assholes in such a short time?

  • Ad Blocking has been around for awhile in form of add ons and plugins. I’ve run them in the past but don’t bother with it anymore. I am all for ads but when a company or website targets the user by using data from your browser, facebook, etc. It’s just not that cool. It seems like you sell legit ads that don’t change based on the person viewing them. If you do thats awesome and totally support that.

  • Robert

    I can understand the concern of CT or any small online publisher. Personally I have my own blocker for ads, it was free. I just ignore them and accept that they are there to help pay for the site. I don’t get all outraged about it. Occasionally I’ll even click on an ad, particularly on sites such as CT where the advertising tends to be targeted to the reader (eg, cycling related companies). So I find that the advertising on CT is inoffensive and occasionally useful. It it doesnt interest me I just ignore it and get on with reading the article.

  • Sean parker

    Charge a subscription and embed ads as if they were images.

    I’d also pay 20 bucks a month not to get uncritical advertorials like this:

    • To be clear: that post isn’t an advertorial. They paid us absolutely nothing – all they did was send us some product to review. In the past we would have included that in our Product Picks, but we’ve since been pulling them out into their own standalone ‘first-look’ reviews.

      • Sean parker

        It’s close though, Matt, an uncritical review surely only benefits the manufacturer, not the reader.
        I was serious, how much would it cost to run ‘protein water’ by a sports nutritionist?
        Bike media in Australia is notorious for falling foul of manufacturers spurious claims – anyone remember ‘oxygenated water’ that was emblazoned in bike mags a decade ago?

        Back on track, this site already offers premium content that is high enough quality that I don’t subscribe to print bike mags anymore ( helped by some magazines’ enslavement to commercial interests). That excellent series on the bike industry in Australia first brought me here – that could never appear in a mainstream Aussie bike mag. Hell, I remember the days when the bike mags didn’t even review their kit, just regurged advertising claims.

        That’s why I was surprised to see ‘protein water’ here.

        • Superpilot

          A lot of the time I think just because the reviewer hasn’t found something negative to say about a product, then readers expect that this can’t be the whole truth. However, in my understanding of the concept of critical thinking, you look for positives and negatives, but if you find only positives, then the review remains sound, because that is the true impression received by the reviewer of the product.
          A review that is only positive still benefits the reader, if in fact that is the true finding of the reviewer. With CT, I believe it is the true representation. Just because sometimes there are no or little negatives/cons on a review, doesn’t mean that the review is uncritical.
          It seems many (on here in particular) seem to assume critical review = required negative aspects. Personally, I think a lot of it is how human nature is so cynical and suspicious these days.

          • Sean parker

            I take your point – not every review need be negative (in fact the protein water review did mention the high cost).
            Given the ease in which protein and water can be gained from other sources (http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/competition_and_training/recovery_nutrition) I think that more could be done to discuss the utility vs cost of this ‘sports’ drink.

            That the reviewers get it for free is an absolute source of bias, however honestly the reviewer feels they are acting.

        • Pete

          I agree with this comment. That article could really have used some critical insight. Is there any evidence for intake of these nutrients having a positive effect? Are there peer-reviewed studies that say either way? If not, then state that. As the article stands, it sounds like you are condoning snake oil. If you directly quote their claims and advertising bites without any kind of caveat, it sounds like you implicitly agree.

  • Abdu

    Did Apple just jump the shark?

    Apple has traditionally been the choice of the more ‘creative’ types, and now Apple is actively seeking to crush income available to those creative types.

    Dumb on all levels, strategically dumb, and possibly a watershed moment in their downfall.

    I look forward to seeing Marketing students in a few years’ time being told how Apple ate itself and collapsed.

    • alexroseinnes

      don’t hold your breath

      • Dave

        You could fill whole Marketing lectures with all the Apple downfall predictions which never came through.

        Buzzfeed might have a problem with this though.

        • alexroseinnes

          Why? Buzzfeed get 99% of their revenue from native ads.

  • Albert

    I’d much rather see discrete, separate “ads” than have to weed out paid content hidden inside the articles.
    It’s interesting that you describe Apple’s ad-blocking as a watershed moment.
    For me, the advent of RSS was that moment. It was brilliant having all my favourite feeds delivered to my RSS reader, ad-free, in one easy place. Of course we all know what happened to RSS.

    • Pete

      However, now some sites (e.g. Slashdot) are delivering ads within the RSS feed itself. And my RSS reader of choice (RSSOwl) does not offer ad-blocking capabilities…

  • ceedee

    Interesting article. But something tells me cycling will be fine given it prep dates the internet.

    • Dave

      Cycling websites don’t pre-date the internet though ;-)

  • awesometown

    Unfortunately the responsibility comes down to the site owner and the content publishers.

    While I find the ads on CT to be manageable (and worth the discomfort based on the quality of content) there are plenty of other awful user experiences in the cycling web-universe. Take velonews for example, often the ads command more browser space than the [half-heartedly written] articles themselves… even worse they often elect to use full page takeovers and subscription prompts upon page load! These are all very very bad and destroy the value of the content you’re trying to justify to me as valuable. How could I not take steps to reverse this assault on my eyeballs?

    Ad-blocking software is a reaction to publishers taking advantage of consumers. Provide a better user experience and the issue will disappear.

  • alexroseinnes

    Here’s a nice breakdown of what happens with ad networks https://snelling.io/on-ad-blocking

  • _kw

    With you on the need for moderate advertising to fund free services. Unfortunately, many sites use very intrusive advertising and pop-up / pop-under windows. Big ad blockers employ a whitelist with acceptable behavior which may in the details still need some debate.

    On a side note: I also read Cyclingtips on the go and while I do not mind the advertising which I noticed became more over the years, the current ad for the Giro della Donna does not close on my iPhone 4 with iOS 8 which reduces screen real estate drastically and leaves me scrolling after every few lines. Maybe with looking into.

  • inopinatus

    You can always incorporate specialized terms into the article content as a form of subliminal advertising. Once you figure it out, manufacturers will sramble to be involved. Most people just zipp through content and won’t even notice. This is no independent fabrication – neurologically it is due to properties in the hippocampagnolo involved in pattern recognition. Some might say FSA and get all huffy but I reckon this technique has merid and the interested parties will rally behind it; I felt it’s definitely worth a look. Maybe you can even get Cycling Vittoria involved.

    I’d have more to say on the topic but gotta run, I’m a cultured fellow, off to see Straight Outta Brompton.

    • Dave

      I’m an avid supporter of innovation and I’ve got plenty of time for this. I’d give you a high five if you could just do it and get away scott free without causing a giant chain reaction which would be hard to wiggle out of.

  • crossgeared

    Advertisers have clearly abused their power and have left both content producers and content consumers in an unhappy and sometimes difficult position. I strongly suspect that those of us who use ad blockers don’t do it out of malice for the content creators, but in direct response to any number of the wide-ranging and well-documented negative effects ads have on us, our devices and our networks.

    The quality of ads on any one site is irrelevant as once someone has be driven to find, install and enable an ad blocker (I suspect) a vanishingly small number go through the trouble of enabling ads for individual sites, no mater how pleasant and non-abusive they may be. While I suppose blocking or punishing those users using ad blockers may be an option to content creators, I believe that would be targeting the wrong component of the problem and ultimately just drive away readers. The problem isn’t ad blocking, it’s ads and the ad networks.

    As an aside, I’m not sure where some of you have been the last several years, but ad blocking has been readily available on almost every platform for quite a long time. While the availability of the option of using ad blocking on the default browser in one mobile OS may incrementally increase the number of users using ad blockers, it isn’t going to significantly change this situation.

  • chiwode

    I rather like the ads on CT. Why would I block ads from cycling related companies? Especially when they’re paying for a website I love?

  • Anon N + 1

    OK. The following link provides some real data on the effects of ad blockers on load time. It is US centric but is still of interest. Also note that loading ads costs the user MONEY as the user has to pay to load them. Irony of ironies: paying for something you don’t want.


  • Rubens Loor

    I have read many articles on this page, and I think their growth has been the quality of them and for advertising and trade associations that have developed, but as a reader online, use and abuse of advertising, as well as various media promotion, often overwhelming. Therefore, I think the solution is to put a price on access to them, and see if we are interested in reading or not. At the end some die and others are born. unprofitable enterprises are not eternal.

  • Whippet

    Just to add a different perspective: I was involved with the internet in the early days. I actually preferred the it when there was no commerce involved. All content was free. People shared ideas. No disrespect to those who are trying to play the game, but once the money crept in the game was rigged.

  • Patrick Choi

    I’ve just whitelisted CT, but I have used adblockers since 2 years ago when things were getting really obnoxious. There are only a couple of sites I’ve whitelisted but the vast majority of the web is not worth the aggravation or tracking of their content. But the moment the pop-ups come, videos auto play or audio noise plays randomly… please think about your audience as well.

    Please do keep it up CT, maybe have a recurring message to ask people to not adblock. Not many people know about adblocking anyways, so it’s good to get the word out.

  • Marco T

    If it stops all those hideous wiggle and bikebug ads then bring it on.


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