Ad-mageddon! Ad blocking, its impact, and what comes next
Since the mid ’90s, the internet has been filled with examples of something tiny becoming something big — and changing everything. Ad blocking is another of those stories that will be told, in years to come, around smoldering tweet-fires by grumpy old digital marketers like me.
Ad blockers have already had a huge impact on the digital landscape. This impact could only grow larger if the popularity of blocking ads reaches a critical mass on mobile as well as desktop. For this article, I talked with numerous publishers, users, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, media agencies and Adblock Plus itself to get a complete view of the varying perspectives on ad blocking, and most importantly, to try to tackle where it will all wind up.
Skip ahead to the next heading if you already know the ad-blocking basics. If not, ad blockers are desktop/mobile browser add-ons or standalone browsers that cause most paid advertising to completely vanish from your surfing experience.
Tired of ads intermingling with your search results? Install an ad blocker and enjoy ZERO sponsored ads. Weary of watching a 30-second Facebook video with a 15-second mid-stack ad shoved dead in the center? Simple fix: Download an ad blocker, and voila, video only — c’est la vie, Zuckerberg.
The same applies to most every site, from YouTube video ads to click-bait style (“see what happens next”) modules at the bottom or right rail of most popular content.
There are other reasons to download ad blockers as well — security reasons, like: stop the bad people from accessing my webcam. Did you know that even innocuous sites can open your mic or access your cam? Did you ever get a bizarre feeling that somehow all sorts of different places know you were looking at that “Nicolas Cage rainbow pillowcase?” HOW?
Well, a little plug-and-play add-on or mobile browser can help stop all of that dead in its tracks.
There are many instances (some intentional and some not so intentional) of ads creating malware issues. “Malvertising” has been found not just on seedy sites you would expect to have privacy or security issues with. Even The New York Times and the BBC last year had an issue when they inadvertently ran ads that attempted to hijack the computers of visitors.
Many well-recognized sites have had similar issues to varying degrees. Using ad blockers eliminates most of these issues from ever being a concern.
The user perspective
While there are many different reasons given for using an ad blocker, the bottom-line motivation is pretty simple. Either users are sick of being bombarded by ads and experiencing their effects on the user experience, or they have security or privacy concerns.
If I were writing a confession, I would tell a tale about how I nearly lost my sanity as my mobile phone choked on a 20-slide, “click-bait”-style gallery. It was ever resizing, lagging, and ads kept “enlarging” where the “next” button was located, causing me to click an ad instead of the next button. Yes, this was even on WiFi.
That was when I …read more
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