The Dangers of Ad Blocking

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Source: Dark Pony

My response and reaction to “Welcome to hell: Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook and the slow death of the web” by Nilay Patel.

The Demise of Small- to Medium-Sized Websites

Ad blocking, defined as “the action or practice of using a special piece of software to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page”, is typically used by individuals who are concerned about and want to further protect their privacy, or those who simply want the website they are on to load quicker and not freeze due to excessive amounts of advertisements. Although largely successful websites will not be nearly as affected by ad blocking as smaller websites, it will ultimately negatively impact the web as a whole.

“…Taking money and attention away from the web means that the pace of web innovation will slow to a crawl. Innovation tends to follow the money, after all!” — Nilay Patel

As a result of the increasing use of ad blockers, several websites blatantly coerce individuals to disable them. According to an article written on Digiday — “GQ is now blocking its readers running ad blockers” — by Lucia Moses, the magazine “is preventing people using ad blockers from accessing its site with a popup asking them to disable their ad blockers or pay 50 cents to read an article.”

Although many of us would prefer to use ad blockers to avoid seeing advertisements on websites we visit, as a result of them being distracting, for instance, it is imminent that we consider the impact the use of ad blockers has on websites — both currently and longterm.

Smaller websites in particular rely and depend on the money they make from advertisements that they strategically select and place on their websites. They do not receive revenue, however, from individuals who visit their website, but have ad blockers. This is problematic, as due to a lack of revenue, content will eventually cease to exist without the presence of advertisements. Although many of us do not realize it, we are not only sabotaging publishers by using ad blockers, we are also limiting ourselves in regard to our ability to access content and information in the potentially near future.

Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook

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Source: TechWorm

Google initially dominated web advertising revenue, such as DFP and AdX. However, “…what’s happening now is that attention is shifting fast from desktop browsers — where Google’s Chrome is dominant (and supports ad blocking! — to mobile browsers.” The sole browser that can be used on Apple devices — Safari, is the only web browser that can be used on the iPhone. Although I never thought of it this way at the time, when Apple implemented iOS 9 in 2015, they integrated certain features — (whether intentionally or not) — that seemingly aim to prevent individuals from using Google.

The competition between prominent companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook will inevitably have a domino effect and eventually lead to the downfall of smaller websites. Other companies will likely follow suit and take note of the features that the largely successful companies are integrating, which will make it more challenging for small and medium websites in particular to survive.

Apple’s inclusion of the Facebook application on Apple devices is also part of Apple’s strategy to give users an alternate place to obtain news and information without having to use Google.

Rather than trying to compete and aim to gain revenue at other companies’ expense, companies should instead focus on innovative ways to garner an audience of their own, rather than try to take an audience — and revenue — away from another company.

Does it Pay to Use Ad Blockers?

Source: Quora

After reading and evaluating this topic, I believe that since ad blockers do not overwhelmingly benefit a majority of individuals, they should not be used. It is counterintuitive for us to prevent companies from receiving revenue, as that means we will eventually no longer be able to access the content we intend to access, especially from smaller companies who cannot afford to pay for more expensive means of advertising.

In the comments section of “Welcome to hell: Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook and the slow death of the web”, one comment that stood out to me involved whether or not we should be understanding and accepting of the way website owners obtain revenue through the use of advertisements.

One Verge user who commented on the article argued that we should respect the way in which the owner of a website obtains revenue in exchange for the information we obtain from their website.

“[We] are not entitled to content on the web. Just because you want it doesn’t mean you deserve to have it. Blocking ads isn’t that different from media piracy; it’s a case of “I want it, but I don’t like how you choose to monetize it. I’ll just take it any ways.” — dalrek

I completely agree with and understand this user’s point because ad blockers solely benefit the individual using the ad blocker, whereas; it is having a much greater, negative impact on the website’s owner, employees and loyal readers.

What is your opinion on ad blockers? Do you currently have ad blocking software installed? If so, what is your main reason for having it?

Please tweet me and let me know! @Rosa327

Written by

Senior at Iona College majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism.

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