Adblocking

Note: Recommendations are at the bottom if you want to skip this article.

I came across an easily one-sided article that states in the opening statement, “The use of ad-blocking software is exploding and is projected to cost websites nearly $22 billion in lost advertising revenue worldwide this year, according to a new study.” Without going into semantics about the definition of cost, what this article should really state is that ad-blocking software projects to reduce potential revenue by $22 billion worldwide this year. The key difference here is the costs haven’t incurred yet and it’s only potential income.

I can understand the problem from a business perspective: You provide free content for users and you need to pay the bills and ad space will help pay your bills. It’s simply logic. Even Mozilla, the developers behind Firefox have stated that they plan to implement ads in their browser to help pay the bills. But, we also need to consider the users too. Take a look at Denver Post, for example. I won’t link there, because I will spare you the pain with a screenshot.

Denver Post with Ads

Let’s get one thing straight: Denver Post is a news site. Why is 90% of the page that I open up ads unrelated to news? Let alone I have zero interest in guns. The problem, my dearest business industry, is you. I have no problem opening up a website and seeing an ad on the corner of a site. I can see it. It’s definitely there. Reddit.com implements this very well. What I don’t want to see is my example above. When you’re ruining user’s experience then you are to blame on your lost revenue. In fact, it is so bad that a study done at Simon Fraser University notes “Computers running the Adblock Plus browser extension saw a 25.0% decrease in associated total data usage during web-browsing sessions.” That’s excluding videos. Including videos, “testing revealed a 40.0% decrease in total data usage.” 

We’re beginning to live in a world with bandwidth caps for data. Comcast has a limit of 250gb per month, and many cell phone companies like Verizon and AT&T are much worse with an average data limit of 2GB. 25% reduction of data usage is half a gig that could be better used for streaming music or using maps to help you get unlost. 

Until the industry listens to the user, I highly recommend ad-blocking software. But, my reasons for utilizing it go far beyond bandwidth usage. Many sites that have advertisements don’t even know what their own ads are displaying. They’re using various vendors like Google Adwords to select ads for them. Let’s take a look at one below:

Malware ad

A user captured this on a popular site called Dailymotion, a video-sharing service similar to Youtube or Liveleaks. The ad seems legitimate at first. It informs you that you have spyware detected on your computer and clicking that big button it will help remove it. Instead, it will install malware on your computer. The spyware it was referring to is itself. 

Furthermore, you have dynamic pricing where some sites will alter prices based on varying data such as your personal spending habits, your location, your age, and more. I can attest to this personally. For a flight for two in early July I was given a quote by Southwest Airlines for $537. I didn’t purchase the tickets immediately because I wanted to confirm various factors in the decision. About an hour later I went back to purchase the tickets and they had move up to $780. At first I thought it was a supply and demand thing so I checked on my phone. The price on my mobile phone was slightly more than the first price, but not much. The article I linked to about dynamic pricing talks about the pricing differences on Amazon depending on location. Needless to say, it’s unfair for the consumer to be judged based on their search history or any of these other factors.

Recommendations:

Using one of these options or all of them will drastically improve your webbrowsing experience. Happy browsing!

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