I've heard from several in my Facebook circle about how much we all hate how many ads we are seeing on the site these days, especially in the mobile apps.
I started wondering why ads on Facebook frustrate people, when ads in traditional media, if not accepted exactly, are at least tolerated. But I think the answer goes something like this: Facebook lied to us.
In The Social Network, the de facto canonical history of Facebook's founding, advertising is mentioned in the early days, but is jettisoned because it "isn't cool." And Facebook being "cool" was a key element of its meteoric rise. So users of Facebook thought they were dealing with one kind of company (a non-advertising company), but they weren't. What's more, Facebook knew that not having advertising made the company more attractive, and to gain users, they held off on having ads.
That's not to say that Facebook is wrong to have ads now, but it got me thinking about all of these sites and services we use that don't have stated business models. How many of them are lying to us, in the form of running on investment money and having their business look fundamentally different than they eventually will?
When Book Riot went live in October of 2011, we didn't really have much in the way of advertising in place, but we knew that it was going to be how we supported the site. Rather than keep ads off the site, we went ahead and put our ad slots up there, even though they weren't making us much, because we wanted to be clear about what the site was and what it was going to be.
As a result, we've never had one complaint (to my knowledge) that there are ads on Book Riot. Maybe it's cost us readers (though I doubt it), but I'd rather never earn a reader than fool them into reading.