The ad-block cold war

The web advertising industry is facing an existential threat: ad-blockers. The beauty of browsers is that, for the most part, web pages are still static files that you download and execute locally and safely. You can control everything very precisely, choosing to not download certain IPs, block whole file extensions, or a combination of these two the circumvent any advertisements. This is probably impossible to overcome. Additionally, the people that tend to be ad-block users tend to be future consumers of expensive things like cars, houses, investment products, razors, whatever. And this is only growing, here’s a chart demonstrating this from PageFair:

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And this is a pretty serious problem. Some of the most important businesses run on advertisements: search engines, journalism, random web utilities like JSON formatters, etc. Google is used by doctors, mechanics, programmers, almost every professional, to do their job better and faster. Yet people are increasingly saying no to Google’s business model.

This commentary comes on the heels of Facebook’s ongoing cat-and-mouse game with AdBlock Plus. Here’s TechCrunch’s report:

Adblock Plus launched a workaround to Facebook’s adblock bypass today that ham-handedly removes posts from friends and Pages, not just ads, according to a statement provided by Facebook to TechCrunch.

I think everyone here is at fault. Facebook is releasing thousands of lines of user-hostile source code, putting tremendous effort into continuing to go against their users wishes. Meanwhile, AdBlock Plus claims no moral high ground, as they’re not really protecting people from advertisements and tracking, their protecting users against the advertisements and tracking that doesn’t pay AdBlock Plus to be white-listed, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Eyeo GmbH, the company behind popular desktop ad-blocking tool Adblock Plus, now accepts payment from around 70 companies in exchange for letting their ads through its filter. Eyeo stipulates that they must comply with its “acceptable ads” policy, meaning their ads aren’t too disruptive or intrusive to users.

That is Facebook’s hard-earned money, but that doesn’t mean I’m either removing my ad-blocker or ecstatic to use Facebook’s product, rather just that the web advertising industry is morally bankrupt and soon to be actually bankrupt. And this is not a good thing for all of us who rely on actually important ad-supported businesses like the Wall Street Journal and Google. I implore you: if you find something that’s critical to your day-to-day life like software, information, or anything digital: find out how to pay them money so that your both on the same team. Today, doctors are using a product that’s funded in part by pharmaceutical companies showing ads to them. Journalists are paid by the same companies that are polluting the earth, building defective products, or other scandals that need to be investigated by journalists.

Which makes the inevitability of the demise of digital advertising on the web so scary and exciting.

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