The awfully good ad blocker
Are ad blockers improving your web experience? They are definitely saving you time. Ads just pop up from nowhere and you have to endure them whether you like it or not. Now consumers have the possibility to block commercials they do not wish to see while browsing the Internet.
By blocking these annoying ads users can protect their privacy and ultimately improve their own Internet experience. Giving users the undeniable right to surf the Internet without being subject to unannounced videos and webpages that pop up without their consent.
I for one, as a browser, am a major enthusiast regarding this issue. I have ad blockers because it helps me keep away pop ups and viruses on my computer. Twenty million people worldwide have also chosen to download this software, and there has been an increase in users from 54 to 121 million, according to Adobe.
This increase has created an on-going battle between those who sell this software, such as Adblock Plus or uBlock and those who earn money from selling ads on the Internet. Hence putting at risk companies’ revenue as so many people use this software.
Most people believe the content found on the Internet is for free. As David Wolpert and William Macready, developers of the no free lunch theorem, stated there are “no free lunches”, which means there is always a cost, even if hidden. So if you can access the Internet for free it means there are hidden costs that users are unaware of. These hidden costs range from tracking users’ Internet activity, which is then sold to advertising companies to understand what websites and content you access on a daily basis; and webpage space sold to advertising companies. Thus, if one of the hidden costs is no longer available, its main revenue stops being lucrative.
This system has proven to be efficient as in the USA alone digital advertising business makes more than $60 billion per year. So if the Internet no longer has a base of support how can it be successful or autonomous?
For this reason, many companies have argued that ad block software is anti-competitive as it is threating companies’ capability to sell information for “free”. Without ads, web publishers struggle to make profit, discouraging the business model of the “free” web content.
Hence, brands such as Microsoft and Amazon have paid Ad Block Plus to allow their ads to be in their white list filter. On the other hand, others have opted to take legal action against Ad Block Plus. On the other side of the battlefield, the German company, Axel Springer in the attempt to encourage consumers to stop using ad block software, has warned their users that they will be banned from having access to the online version of Bild (German’s bestselling daily) if they use ad blockers.
Big companies like Apple have simply decided to embrace this era, offering a range of apps on Apple Store with the new iOS mobile operating system. Users can download apps to block ad content within the Safari mobile browser.
Taking into account that 51 per cent of adults in the USA spend most of their time using digital media, Apple seems to have taken the right path, deciding to join the battleground tackling this issue head on. Consequently, thus has led consumers to associate Apple’s brand image with the ad block software.
Having ad blockers may save you time and keep you from getting distracted, but every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As far as the negative impact of ad block goes, it has made companies lose more than $22 billion in advertising revenue worldwide.
Now companies will have to find another way of making profit either by asking for donations or creating a new niche market that has not been thought before. Necessity is the mother of creation and now is the time to invent a new business model to make webpages profitable once again without the help of advertising.
This might be one of the most controversial stories in the digital era thus far. Who should compromise, Internet users or web browsers?