We all hate them… some pop out, some are plastered on the corner of your favourite website and others are placed in other areas. Yes, I am referring to ads. However, with the creation of easy to install, Adblock and Adblock Plus, ads are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Recently, Adblock Plus released a new version of the extension, specifically for mobile. With the rise of mobile (yes, mobile has now surpassed desktop), this poses a significant threat on top of the existing nuisance for publishers that ad-blocking extensions bring about. Although these browser extensions are amazing (yes, I’ve used them myself too at one point), they are destroying ads, something that I believe is a necessary evil for the web.
Preventing Annoying Ads
Adblocks came about to solve the problem of overly annoying ads. However, this has created a vicious cycle whereby people are installing ad blocking services as advertisers turn to increasingly intrusive ads as a revenue stream. Adblock, the company that creates this extension realizes this, and the importance to the free Internet, and has since created an acceptable ads program. However, users of the extension can still choose to block all ads, which I assume is likely a popular choice since many users do not know of the adverse effects of blocking all ads. In fact, most users want to remove intrusive ads, such as the annoying ones that pop-up, and don’t mind the natural ones within web pages, however once they download the extension, they want all removed.
The Negative Implications of Adblock
Ads have become an integrated part of your favourite websites and web applications today and are vital to the sustainability of the majority of them. Specifically, many content publishers rely on advertisements as a form of revenue to pay their expenses, namely their employees. Instead of charging their users hefty fees to read articles or play on their application, they make their revenue through providing companies with space to advertise relevant content to the user group. Luckily for mobile app developers, ads blocked using the mobile adblocker can only be removed on the web, and not inside apps, an area where a majority of users spend a significant amount of their time.
Thus, the negative effect that installing Adblock to completely wipe advertisements off a web page certainly is massive, especially if the growth of the user base of such extensions continues. To put it into perspective, think of a large consulting firm losing out on a major client, or an extensive group of people boycotting the usage of a common consumer packaged good item. These scenarios may not be identical, but the implications that these events have on the revenue of each company is significant, similar to that of a large user group blocking ads on a website that makes money through ads.
Developing Plugs to Adblockers
There is serious money to be made if start-ups can develop solutions that plug adblockers or help major online publishers find out which ads are being blocked. This has brought about several start-ups, including PageFair, which aims to help publishers see where advertisements are being blocked by consumers, as well as helping them convince users to turn off the ad blocking software. Moreover, big publishing corporations, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google are all attempting to strike deals with the company that creates Adblock, to ensure that their ads are still being shown.
Adblock Usage is Fine, With Limits
Although some may argue that Adblock software is a right as it promotes the openness of the web that Tim Berners-Lee once envisioned, keep in mind that the usage of it removes a significant amount of revenue out of the online ecosystem. This lack of revenue may lead to content publishers to either downsize, close, or begin charging customers as another form of monetization. Blocking ads is fine, but keep it within limits. Leave the native ads that are integrated into the user experience so that publishers can still generate revenue, but be wary of the impact that it could have altogether.