The premise of an ad blocker is a very simple one; installed as an add-on to your browser, you are able to browse websites without having to endure annoying adverts or pop ups. There is a big debate over whether or not this is the right thing to do though. Although you are enjoying a more pleasant online experience, you could in fact be harming your favourite websites in the process.
There are plenty of reasons for a user to want to use an ad blocker, aside from simply annoyance. Privacy is a hot topic at the moment with lots of big companies seemingly flaunting personal data. Third party websites track your web activity and deliver adverts which are deemed to be relevant and appropriate. Many people are uncomfortable with this method of advertising and opt to block all forms of tracking and advertising. Ad content is unpredictable too, and occasionally may be inappropriate. By blocking ads, the risk of an embarrassing or unwanted advert won’t be displayed to others. Browsing via mobile devices may incur restrictions on data allowance as autoplay videos or adverts use up a relatively large amount of data, so in this instance an ad blocker could save users money if they browse often.
From a web publishers’ point of view though, having visitors that block adverts means that they are missing out on an important revenue stream. In this report by the BBC, they ask whether or not using an ad blocker is ethical as 84% of the top 100 websites in the world use advertising as their primary source of revenue and need it in order to survive. By blocking ads, users deprive websites of making money via commission.
AdBlocker Plus is the most popular ad blocker program on the market, and they claim to want to make the advertising experience better for users. They block all adverts except those that have been approved under their “Acceptable ads” criteria. To be considered for the acceptable ads exemption and placed on a “whitelist”, AdBlocker Plus must approve them first. Some companies have paid money to AdBlocker Plus in order to continue displaying their adverts to users which has provoked accusations of extortion and favours for those that do pay up.
Adverts Pay For The Internet
It has been estimated that internet users would have to pay £44 a month in order to keep websites running if it wasn’t for advertisements. When you look at the dependence that website publishers have on advertisements, ad blocking programs take on a different meaning. Some will always prefer to be rid of adverts though and of course this is down to personal choice and preference. Jason gives his opinion on AdBlock Plus:
AdBlocker Plus are straying very close to what some might call extortion. They either need to charge everyone a nominal amount to be on their whitelist or no-one at all. Otherwise it smacks of “pay us and we’ll let users see your adverts. Don’t, and no-one will see them at all”. Websites need advertising revenue to keep their costs down, but if the adverts are overly intrusive then it is off-putting to users who will then reach out to services such as AdBlocker.
Personally I find the adverts that Facebook insist on showing in the news feeds more irritating, especially as they take up a lot of space on mobiles. There has also been a recent update where the app has requested the privilege to read all your SMS’s and other messaging data which will then be used primarily to target adverts. These privacy concerns will naturally lead users toward ad blocking – Jason Ede