The Web, the Ads and the Ad-Blockers

11 June 2015

Like almost everyone else, I don't like ads. Nevertheless, I don't use an ad-blocker either.

Using the web and using an ad-blocker is hypocrite. Like it or not, it's the most widely used business model on the web. That's how most people get paid for the content you read, watch and listen for free.

There're other ways to do it (affiliate links, feed sponsorships, paywalls, etc.), but the dominant model today is ads.

You know what? I don't find ads particularly irritating from now on. Why? Because I find and read honest websites that respect me by not throwing huge walls of ads to my face. I avoid those ad-filled websites, because most of the time, they are simply bad. And for YouTube? I patiently wait because the great contents made there that I want to see deserve to be paid.1

The solution is not ad-blocking. The solution is to find well-made contents which focus on the readership, not the publisher.2

Let me finish with this:

There is a huge irony in that fact that AdBlock's function of keeping ads away from our content will eventually do the opposite. The alternative to ads alongside my content is ads inside my content.

Let's face it: paywalls don't work. The alternative on the horizon is native advertising. Buzzfeed is now famously refusing to host ads. Instead they sustain themselves by publishing content that subtly supports the agenda of any company with deep enough pockets to pay for it. A viewer's ability to distinguish between native ads and regular articles is small and quickly vanishing. If separate ads stop reaching people, the path to monetization remaining is to change your content to reflect someone else's agenda.

Because you cannot distinguish an ad from an article, it's even more insidious and dishonest. And this time, you won't be able to block it.

Update 08 June 2018

My view on this has changed quite a bit recently. With the explosion of ad tracking technologies and the bloat they add to any webpage, I do use an ad blocker now. But only with Safari, where I find it safe to use an extension like that thanks to its "Content Blocker" model of security (ie., no access to the page content, just many rules that match the webpage without a way to send data back).

I have absolutely no trust in a company like AdBlock, and I am not willing to give them my data so easily.

I do, however, unblock some specific sites. It's a shame, though.

  1. Ads in apps? I pay to remove them when I can or I find better paid alternatives.

  2. And if you really want to use AdBlock, only block abusive websites.