Well, do you use Adblock? I do but it is becoming harder to nowadays.
Why Did I First Use Adblock (Plus)?
Sometime in 2010, I was visiting a website I still frequent. That week, I came across one ad that gave me trouble.
At that time, I generally had no problem with advertisements. For the most part, I stayed away from dangerous websites and the places I visited barely had ads. However, this one banner ad was taking up all the broadband.
What was being advertised? I believe some Swiss bank, from what I saw from clicking the link. I didn’t recognize the language.
Anyway, it would take forever for some pages to load whenever that banner ad was up, but I wouldn’t have a problem with any other advertisement. So, I would refresh.
That worked for a little bit until I kept getting the same annoying ad. I was fed up. I searched the site I was on for the FAQ’s. That page was amazing, BTW, and it had what I was looking for.
Incidentally, this was when I was first introduced to Firefox. And I had to use Firefox in order to install the Adblock plugin.
Immediately, I noticed a remarkable difference. Firefox. 3.6.xxx was an amazing browser. I was so much faster than Internet Explorer and the ads were gone!
So, the next time I was in the market for a computer (or hard drive), my first stops would be to install Firefox, eventually Google Chrome, and Adblock (Plus) for both browsers.
Why Was Adblock So Amazing?
There are a few reasons:
For starters, Adblock got rid of annoying ads that take up a tremendous amount of broadband. This is key for anyone who has more than one tab open. And even if you are using one tab, certain ads can slow page loading times.
Secondly, Adblock allowed me to skip commercials on websites that heavily use flash. Sometimes, I might otherwise be forced to view the same commercials over and over again when I’m watching videos. That’s really annoying.
Third, the plugin allowed me to block images. I have used it a few times.
- Let say someone is showing a distasteful image on a website that is otherwise welcoming for users.
- On a forum, someone could have an ugly set.
- Or someone shows a disturbing picture.
- Or the image shown, while within guidelines, is used to troll people.
Whatever the reason, that image could be blocked from a user’s view if they want that.
In addition, some sites have too many ads. In that case, the sheer number of spots taken up eventually messes with the layout of the pages.
Finally, there is the added layer of security:
- Some advertisements are worse than the ones that just slow loading time and can be intrusive.
- Some actually come with viruses are links to viruses and malware.
- There are ads that track users.
- Some ads are links to other scams.
With Adblock, you could avoid them all.
Were There Times When Adblock Presented a Moral Quandry?
Yes. Many websites and content creators need ad revenue. On some sites, I disabled Adblock when prompted. I had no problem doing that for the most part since the sites offered free services/views and most of the ads were limited in number.
(Hulu was always another issue. While I disabled adblock on that site, there were sometimes 5 commercials shown during breaks on episodes. And many of those commercials were repeats.)
What’s Wrong Now?
At first, I thought that more and more websites had found a way to work around Adblock. Sites like Yahoo! had native advertising, or sponsored links that looked like links to actual articles.
Places like Forbes and The Atlantic blocked off content unless visitors disabled their ad blockers. Forbes is slower to load now.
And then there were sites like YouTube and Facebook that started running unblockable ads on videos and pages. I have seen those from both, especially Facebook. In the latter case, it’s rather creepy, as I see advertisements based on things I’ve researched, services I use, and sites I frequent!
Well, it turns out that Adblock Plus now has advertising space.
That’s right. The owner is now selling ad space.
From The Verge:
Rather than stripping all ads from the internet forever, Adblock Plus is hoping to replace the bad ads — anything it deems too big, too ugly, or too intrusive — with good ads, ones that are smaller, subtler, and theoretically much less annoying.
Under this Acceptable Ads Initiative, only ads placed in certain places on a page and of specific sizes will be allowed to be shown with Adblock Plus in use. This was actually announced in 2011. But what we know now is that Adblock will keep 6 percent of the revenue from advertisers.
To be quite honest, this is a betrayal. Yes, while people need ad revenue, this is dishonest on the part of Eyeo.
Before, the company was talking about having a world free of ads. I couldn’t get on board with that because of the noted revenue concerns.
But now, they are selling ad space when they are supposed to be blocking advertisements? That is wrong, too, even if users still have the option of blocking those ads later.
Are They Serious?
Well, of course they are, but …
I don’t care what they say about only blocking the bad ads. In fact, it sounds an opportunity for corruption. In essence, the company could be paid off by any schmuck that could afford it, regardless of their intentions.
Now, I do believe that users should whitelist sites and pages in support of site owners and content creators who provide awesome experiences. That’s the least we can do and some may have gone into their work full time. In that case, we must also be careful with the sites we whitelist.
But it should not be the job of Eyeo to decide which are “good” and which ads are not, presumably based on who pays the company. That is potentially eroding the layer of security, albeit temporarily.