Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 19th Sep 2015 14:37 UTC
Internet & Networking

Let's talk ad-blocking.

With the arrival of iOS 9, ad-blocking is coming to mobile in a big way, and it's causing a lot of talk all over the web. It is highlighting the internal struggle some feel about the practice, but also the hypocrisy of some of its staunchest proponents. So far, it seems like the real 'bloodbath' isn't taking place where people thought it would be - namely, publishers - but among personalities.

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Who decides
by CowMan on Tue 22nd Sep 2015 11:28 UTC
CowMan
Member since:
2006-09-26

The problem with ads is that they went too far, they went too far when banner ads went from a sort of static standard size header or footer to a pile of deceptive, animated distractions. That we can blame on marketers, but also the 'greed' of those early website owners chasing the promised long-tail of ad revenues with more and more ad volumes.

My local news site self-hosts ads, which are relevant without tracking as the people who go there are already a self-selected targetable population. The first Google text ads and the early youtube ads, off to the side, they were okay too.. well, without the tracking. I didn't bother ad-blocking these, though I was well aware of how to do it.

Even as ads started getting intrusive, rather than broad blocking collective lists and heuristic models, targetted blocking could be handled domain by domain, or ad by ad, assuming it was worth the effort in the first place.

Now youtube is unusable without filtering. A large portion of the web is. Care of things like ad fly, even the basis of the world wide web - links and url's - are breaking.

I don't buy the marketing line of lost content. Maybe it's just as well. I started filtering heavily via proxies and internal servers when I found myself on a satellite connection for some time. 30-35% of non-video content was ads, and with upto 200 dns queries per page to external ad networks, they had a significant impact on page responsiveness and load times (particularly over the high latency connection). Ads are overwhelming the content for those on slow connections, either by circumstance or lack of affordability; yet the cost to create and share content has plummeted.

Reminds me of copyright. The 'content industry' seeks greater protection, longer terms, but they seem to feel they have an inalienable right to their creations; the reality is the opposite. The point of copyright is society, who can trivially copy your work, grants you a temporary exclusive license, so you can be compensated yes but primarily to encourage additional works for the greater good. Patents work the same way, hence the disclosure. This is fundamental - it's not a right, it's a social license, one at odds with man's desire to remember and share. Society accepts it's own short term loss of utility for the greater good of all involved.

Online advertisers want the same thing. They want us to believe that ads enable the content, that there should be a form of inalienable 'advertright' - however, in connecting to a server to access resources, I have neither the obligation to access everything as a complete unified package, nor to follow pointers to third party resources, nor to run arbitrary code - it's my terminal, thus it remains relatively trivial and justifiable for me to select what content I download, what format to view it in, and to drop ads if i see fit. To get around this, advertisers require society to agree this is inappropriate and achieve a social license for guaranteed ad delivery online.

Well, society has agreed. The opposite.. that it's okay to block ads, and that blame lies squarely on website owners and marketers. Not the users. Certainly i've never seen a user post asking for articles to be unedited press releases split into 15 ad-laden pages with a nice clickbaity title and unrelated images. For online media to both tolerate such anti-user pro-marketer behaviour on one hand, and then try to appeal to the user to allow it is rich indeed.

Sorry Thom, but ad blocking is a modern necessity until a better balance can be struck or a different system or set of expectations is developed. I note osnews carries a notice to bulk emailers - I see this as broadly similar, it's easier to ignore static text emails than most web ads, but who is opposed to laws against spam? Who doesn't filter the ads, cons, viral attachments? It's much the same problem from a user perspective.

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