Why I’m Building a Site with No Ads

I’ve been building a new website, as a side-project, that will have no ads, no user tracking, no user accounts, no cookies, no user analytics — nothing except the content itself. It’s called https://noadshere.com/ and will start with reviews, recipes and tutorials — and will launch at some stage this year!

Why?

The modern internet is covered in ads — pretty much every site I go onto has ads, some discretely placed but mostly overly proliferated and distributed liberally throughout the actual content. I know why — money; people want to make $$$ and ads is one way to do it.

This has led to bad user experience:

  • Sites with mediocre content — they exist to show ads, the content is low quality and interest.
  • Content spread over multiple pages, unnecessarily, to make people click through more ad-covered pages.
  • Recipe sites that write so much unrelated content, just to fit in more ads! We’ve all seen them. You click on a link for “Nachos Cheese Sauce” then get a lengthy essay on their summers spent in their granny’s kitchen, complete with an ad after each paragraph, and somewhere down the bottom of the page you may find an actual recipe. (For anyone interested, it’s basically just flour, butter, milk and cheese!).
  • Clickbait headlines! If I see one more link like “Top Ten Surprising Mistakes All Men Make” …
  • Sites that mislead that they have more content than they do. It really annoys me if you Google something like “Stranger Things Season 4” and you see lots of links like “Everything we know about Series 4 of Stranger Things, including Release Date”, then you click in and there’s no new or interesting information and no release data; just titbits of old info and loads of ads.
  • The total lack of privacy! So many sites now say when you arrive there “Your Privacy is Important To Us”, with a big “Accept All” button underneath. If you actually click in and take a look at where and who they want to share your information with, the sheer scale of it is extraordinary. When did everyone decide it was ok that what we’re searching for and reading about is something tech firms can use to sell us ads?

Exceptions

There are obviously exceptions — and there already are some great ad-free sites. If you’re in the UK the BBC site is ad-free, and even in Ireland where it does show ads, they still have editorial standards and almost none of the bad stuff I mentioned above. Sites like NASA are also great, with a tonne of amazing information.

Finding however what the latest news is on Stranger Things, or a good recipe for cheese sauce for nachos, on a site that actually isn’t primarily interested in ad money, isn’t as easy!

So — I’m making a new site with no ads

Or user tracking, or user analytics, or even any user accounts. It’s just going to have content — starting with reviews (TV and Movies), recipes (including cheese sauce for nachos!) and tech tutorials (because I like tech tutorials and can copy a load of ones I’ve written before!).

Isn’t this a bit like Wikipedia?

Sort of — but it’s less a encyclopaedia of knowledge and more of place to find out how to cook a Tomahawk Steak, or whether it’s worth going to see the new James Bond movie.

Isn’t this a bit like Medium?

Again, sort of — but it won’t have as much content as Medium; which is an awesome place for thousands of writers to publish articles. noadshere will have less content, focused on certain areas that I think will benefit from it. It also won’t have any user accounts, just content.

How will it survive without any ad revenue?

It’s going to be all low-cost serverless and I have a certain amount of free credits from AWS — so I’ll see how long they last me, and take it from there! If usage is low, my credits will last a long time, if for some crazy reason usage is high I’ll explore getting more credits, pay for it myself, or see if anyone else wants to help.

I’m also keeping my costs down as I don’t need any of the user account / tracking / ad related code and infrastructure!

How will you know if anyone is using it?

I’m not going to have any user analytics, but should be able to figure out site load from high-level hosting stats! Basically if my AWS bill is crazy, I’ll know people like it!

Why is it taking you so long to launch?

Because I’m busy with an actual job that I really enjoy, a family I love spending time with, and in my rare spare time I’ve been building & maintaining charity apps and also a kids game I just launched!

So time on this endeavour has been limited, but I’m going to spend more time to hopefully get it launched before the new The Wheel of Time series starts in November— so there’s at least one site on the net to read about it that isn’t covered in ads!

Who will write the content?

I’m going to launch with a small amount of content that some friends and I will write — but I’m going to open it up to others to submit posts aswell!

It’s not a crass attempt to get people to write for free — it’s giving people a chance to contribute to a site that’s trying to do something a bit different. All content submitted by folks will remain their copyright etc.

Why is this post metered, if you’re so against earning money from articles?

I’m not against earning money from articles, I just hate ads! Metered posts seem to get more views here aswell, I could be wrong though!

How can you get involved?

I’ll have more info soon on the submission & editorial process, but for now if you want to stay in touch with progress and plans, follow me here, LinkedIn, on my own Twitter account or one I just set up for the site a few minutes ago — https://twitter.com/noadshere!

Any thoughts or comments, please let me know! Andy.

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Creator of Boxapopa, the iOS game for young kids with zero ads, just fun! https://apps.apple.com/ie/app/boxapopa/id1550536188

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Andy O'Sullivan

Andy O'Sullivan

Creator of Boxapopa, the iOS game for young kids with zero ads, just fun! https://apps.apple.com/ie/app/boxapopa/id1550536188

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