Ad-Splaining

October 05, 2015 by Gabe | [mmd] |

Feeling a bit confused about the entire ad-blocking situation? These links make a pretty good primer.1

I'm thrilled with the focus on the current "design" of the web. It's gone too far. I actually liked computer ads for most of the 90's. Flash ruined that and it's just continued to rot. Now we have ad-supported egos yelling at the world for click counts. I also think this is the organic growth of technology that was just recently the darling of tech blogging. Everyone loved the plucky little TiVo when it was innovating around the big networks and hated ISPs when they were injecting ads. This is an extension of the same struggle and now consumers have more direct control of the web than ever before.

Ad Blocking(Seth Godin):

Ad blockers undermine a fundamental principle of media, one that goes back a hundred years: Free content in exchange for attention. The thing is, the FCC kept the ad part in check with TV, and paper costs did the same thing for magazines and newspapers. But on the web, more and more people have come to believe that the deal doesn't work, and so they're unilaterally abrogating it. They don't miss the ads, and they don't miss the snooping of their data.

Content Blocking Primer(Eric Meyer):

Remember, this isn’t just about ads. Ads are emblematic of the root problem, but they’re not the actual root problem. If ads were the sole concern of content blockers, then the blockers (mostly) wouldn’t bother to block web fonts. It’s possible to use web fonts smartly and efficiently, but most sites don’t, so web fonts are a major culprit in slow mobile load times. The same is true for Javascript, whether it’s served by an ad network, an analytics engine, or some other source. So they’re both targeted by blockers—not for enabling ads, but for disabling the web.

Facebook’s Like Buttons Will Soon Track Your Web Browsing to Target Ads(MIT Tech Review):

Rainey Reitman, activism director at the EFF, says that is not enough, because anytime you load a page with a “Like” or “Share” button embedded, Facebook will still know about it. “Promising not to use information is not the same as promising to actually delete the data,” she says. “The ‘Like’ data is especially problematic. Most people probably don’t even realize that whenever they load a page with a ‘Like’ button on it, Facebook gets a little information on them.” Facebook did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.

Welcome to the Block Party(Casey Johnston):

The math is even starker for smaller publications and individual bloggers, who rely more heavily on display advertising and who have already been battered by shifts in the advertising market; some longtime professional bloggers, like Heather Armstrong, have given up writing their blogs full-time. The Awl’s publisher Michael Macher told me that “the percentage of the network’s revenue that is blockable by adblocking technology hovers around seventy-five to eighty-five percent.” Currently, readers use an ad blocker on around twenty-five percent of all pageviews. Nicole Cliffe, one of the founders of The Toast, said that “adblocker is brutal for us. And people always break out the ‘Subscribers model! I donate twenty bucks a year!’ thing but it doesn’t add up.”

Ad Blocking and the Future of the Web(Jeffrey Zeldman):

And in this environment of sites so cluttered with misleading ads they are almost unnavigable, Apple looks heroic, riding to the consumer’s rescue by providing all the content from newspapers without the ads, and by blocking ugly advertising on websites. But if they succeed, will media companies and independent sites survive?

The Washington Post Tests Blocking People Who Ad-Block(Felicia Greiff at AdAge)

Are We Obliged To Load And View Ads On Web Pages?(Glenn Fleishman):

What I'd propose is that it's legitimate for a site to expect you accept what is visible (static ads with links with tracking embedded only for clicks) and disclosed on first arriving, but not feed out a bit of hidden code or retain anything about you until you are informed and accept the terms.

Ads are Dead, Long Live Ads(Marko Savic):

If you built your new media empire in the last few years on programmatic advertising, stop whining. You’re building a business. If your revenue model relies on a few snippets of code that can be blocked with a software update, you’re not building a very good business.

Beyond Ad Blocking(Doc Searl):

As we see, interest in Do Not Track fell, while interest in ad blocking rose. (As did ad blocking itself.)

Google Chrome will block auto-playing Flash ads from September 1(Ars Technica):

The move could also help stop the spread of malware via malicious Flash ads. Flash has had a long history of security exploits, with the most recent exploit being uncovered in July, which potentially allowed hackers to remotely execute malicious code

Malvertisers Slam Forbes, Realtor with World's Worst Exploit Kits(The Register):

"By abusing ad platforms – particularly ad platforms that enable real time bidding – attackers can selectively target where the malicious content gets displayed."

You Can Now Turn Off Ads on Techdirt(Techdirt):

This isn't one of those "pay us to remove ads" deals. It's up to you. That said, obviously if you disable ads we're likely to make less money. So if you choose to do that, we'd appreciate it if you supported us in other ways, such as via our Insider Shop, where you can buy a membership that gets you certain perks, or through our Deals Store, where you can support Techdirt while buying some cool products and services. But, again, this is not a requirement. If you don't like ads on the site, turn them off.

The Cost of Ads(NYT)


  1. I have not made it a secert that I find most tech Web sites to be filthy with bad intention and terrible implementation. These links are pretty biased. If you want the other side, just try to read the Nilay Patel blog post