Ad Blockers

I’ve been thinking a lot about ad blockers. I have always resisted using an ad blocker on the view that I value the web and mobile services I use and they need to make money somehow.

But there is a view that ads are unwanted and by opting out of them, you are forcing web and mobile services to come up with a better business model. Of course, I also wonder how many people that use an ad blocker would come out of pocket a couple bucks a month to pay for an ad-free version of the services they use. Pandora has had an ad-free version of its music service for years and I believe (not sure) that only about 5% of its users opt for that.

The idea of taking the business model decision out of the service’s hands and putting it into the user’s hands is interesting. If an ad blocker came with a micro-payments service that automatically paid the web or mobile service the same average revenue per user (ARPU) it was making via ads, that would be cool. That is quite possible with bitcoin and I am expecting we will see something like that emerge in the coming years.

I also think we will see browsers and possibly even mobile phones come with ad blockers built in. Would you swap browsers to get built in ad blocking? Would you swap mobile phones to get built in ad blockers?

One thing is for sure, ad blocking is not going away. If anything, it is growing appreciably.

So, let’s end this with a poll? Do you use an ad blocker, and if so, where?


Comments (Archived):

  1. Steve Poland

    I don’t use an ad blocker. As I mentioned in another post of yours, I really wish there was a “Spotify”-like “HBO”-like “Hulu”-like business for content on the web, where I pay $9.99/mo (or $14.95/mo) and that $ gets divided amongst all the sites I visit during that time. Could be based on combo of pageviews and time.Read yesterday that custom browsers with built-in ad blocking is already a popular thing in China:

    1. JimHirshfield

      Yes, there are multiple browsers with built in adblocking – have been for years.As regards Spotify for content: bustle is coming to the US soon. They do that.

    2. Jake Baker

      My wife uses an app for reading magazines that is exactly that called Texture. She now actively browses 10-20 magazines vs maybe 1-2 when only in print or even in Apple’s newsstand with direct subscriptions. She really loves it and ends up discovering new content too. Goes to sort a microtransaction “platform” layer as an app vs as an add on or protocol built in. Could be a transition period.Micro transactions ultimately feel very apple in one way (walled garden, control, curation, take a share, enforce quality) but also very google (open, distributed, innovative, big data, monetizing intent).

  2. JimHirshfield

    Bitcoin is clearly well-positioned to handle micro-payments, but the results are in with regard to micro-payments…or really paywalls for news media. There’s a very uneven distribution of success for paywalls (eg NYT, WSJ, FT). And the micro part of payments doesn’t change the cognitive overhead added to every click decision (“Is this headline worth spending money on?”)The Case Against Micropayments by Clay Shirky:…Alt business models for content? I think we would have found one by now, independent of adblocking’s growth, if there was something more viable than advertising. The problem is the way advertising and ad tech have gotten out of hand in format, performance, and privacy. These things need to be fixed because neither advertising nor adblocking are going away.Disclosure: I work for PageFair. We help publishers measure and address adblocking. We are also very involved in raising awareness of how online advertising needs to change.And today we published a report in partnership with INMA (International News Media Association) β€œWhat To Do About Adblocking”

    1. Michael Elling

      Did you see Om’s piece on Instagram ads? “Instagram is the only social app that has survived the purge of social media on my iPhone; Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter are all gone.”

      1. JimHirshfield

        Nope. But I’ll take a look-see

    2. LE

      Note this: domain is also owned by your company but it points to this webpage:…A hosting company or DNS screwup? (If so please send me my bounty.)

      1. JimHirshfield

        Weird. Looking into that now.

    3. Drew Meyers

      It wouldn’t surprise me to see the large sites with paywalls create “paywall networks of partners” (same as we saw companies like google create ad networks)… lump payment for multiple publications into one gateway to easier upsell / transact.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Interesting thought. Would be interesting if bundled with video and music streaming subscriptions, free shipping…if only Bezos owned a newspaper πŸ˜‰

        1. Drew Meyers

          If only…

  3. William Mougayar

    Brendan Eich (inventor of Javascript) has a new startup that wants to do that:

    1. jochend

      I’ve been testing it and it looks very promising. Value proposition is more than just ad blocking: speed, privacy (no tracking) and no ads … I could very well see Brendan move into some bitcoin related alternative model

    2. JimHirshfield

      Adopting a new browser is hard for users. Not impossible, as we’ve seen users shift over time from Netscape to IE to FF or Chrome. Does Brave offer the same motivation that drove change by users from one to the next?

      1. William Mougayar

        He’s open sourcing the platform, so I’m assuming that innovation around it would be an added value. I just downloaded the developer’s version and will give it a spin. Remember, Chrome started as bare bone too. Too early to tell, IMO.

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Start with Duck Duck Go users πŸ™‚

        1. JimHirshfield


    3. Kirsten Lambertsen


  4. Jake Baker

    Use one on desktop (Chrome extensions) but not mobile. Use both ad blocker and also plugin blocker. (Didn’t vote as not a good fit for three categories). Are you seeing more people use mobile only vs desktop only? That surprises me a bit – maybe because it is so easily integrated.I very actively whitelist sites across both blockers which I trust or like or use frequently. This is sort of my “ethical” justification. I am also quick to whitelist “new” services that seem promising.Mainly have it up as a firewall for the annoyances and interruptions of unknown sites linked to from trusted sites.Honestly – looking at the number of trackers and widgets that a service like ghostery catches is more upsetting to me than just ads. I strongly suggest you do a similar post about the sort of hidden ethics and considerations of different frackers and the like. Honestly – this stuff feels much more long term relevant than the slight distraction of just ad blocking per se.I’d be open to something that prompted me to whitelist after [10] visits or something.Feel a meaningful difference between watching some YouTube creators films and the annoyance of a 30-60 second ad before a trailer or a clip from a late night show. I ::want:: to support Casey Neistat — I feel used when ad’d to before watching basically another ad.I’ve also noticed that I have sort of started clicking on sponsored links as a bit of a “hobby” when they are actually what I wanted to find. I used to avoid them intentionally.Ad blocker on mobile is not too hard to enable per se it just hasn’t been as disruptive to have ads as it is on desktop. One thing that is shifting that is how many sites have hard to close pop ups when on mobile (I’m on IOS) or repetitive pop ups. If you loop through 3-5x trying unsuccessfully to close a pop up because the X is so small I hit the link it basically convinces me to leave your site.

  5. Matt Zagaja

    I grudgingly use an ad blocker on both my desktop and mobile. I thought this was an interesting post/stat the other day showing that people in Silicon Valley don’t click ads:….I don’t feel bad because generally I don’t buy anything from the banner ads I see and they often whizz, pop, and whatever other weird things designers get them to do to block access to content and steal my attention. Though in fairness I think I’ve purchased half the things that are advertised on podcasts. I have a Casper mattress and shave with Harry’s razors. No complaints.

    1. Jake Baker

      Podcasts are a perfect advertising location. they are one of the few times I like native content (listen to start-up podcast for best example I have seen).One thing I don’t get is why there is not MUCH MORE targeted podcast advertising. For instance, I hear no targeted triathlon advertising on triathlon podcasts. It’s still sort of just Mailchimp, truecar, and so on.Obviously “early” days but this is less about trying to advertise on serial and more about grabbing “long tail” of specialist audiences actively engaging in a long form discussion of a specialist topic.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Hate banner ads that are intruding-I click and go to the banner ad not what I wanted to see. Happens more on mobile than desktop/laptop

        1. Jake Baker

          I wonder if this could be a feature of a mobile browser – making banner ads and pop-up ads visible but not intrusive. I don’t mind them being there if I can easily navigate around them. On mobile you’re exactly right – it is much harder to close or to avoid them….

  6. falicon

    Very hot topic…few tidbits I feel compelled to share:1. Good related post worth reading and thinking about today ->…2. Early, open source, efforts for exactly what you are talking about -> (I also know at least one group who is working on building a company around these very ideas as well).3. People don’t generally believe it, but ads are still one of their primary sources of discovery. Most businesses realize it, and aren’t sure where to turn as this trend grows. The middle-men that the market is flooded with (much of the *real* problem actually) are going to get eaten one way or another here (or at least consolidated into something massive, but more value-add; i.e. like what Google did to the fragmented search world)4. There is massive money and opportunity around this…so it’s only going to get more and more attention going forward…and as Fred has mentioned in the past, the likely outcome of a software shift like this is that there will really be only one or two big winners when the dust settles….Should be really interesting to try and survive (and thrive) for the rest of us. πŸ™‚

    1. William Mougayar

      Have you tried Brave yet?

      1. falicon

        No but I’ve been monitoring the discussion and ecosystem around it…I have a friend that is trying to put together a business around it/the idea of it…he’s got a really interesting use case for BitCoin *if* he can pull off what he’s thinking about.Personally I don’t use any ad blocking, content control, or virus protection software (and I apply that to the whole house) — though I don’t fault those that do.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >Personally I don’t use any ad blocking, content control, or virus protection softwareSurprising. How have you managed to not get any malware in your system then? Surely there are a lot of chances for that if you don’t use anti-malware software? as someone else said in this thread, even web pages carry malware nowadays. There are plenty of routes for it to enter.

          1. falicon

            I’m pretty careful about what I do, what places I’m visiting, and what I actually download (very little really)…and I keep a close eye on what’s installed in my system and how it’s interacting with everything else.Still – there is a healthy amount of blind luck that goes with it all too I suppose. If/when I get hit with a killer virus someday, I’ll probably change my ways…until the I’m going to party like it’s 1999 πŸ™‚

  7. JLM

    .I use three different adblockers and a security system that seems to do much of the same work.I have had a couple of viruses — the Russian Ural Mountains triple dirty sixteen canine teeth version — and they all came in through ads. All of them. Getting rid of them was a major league pain in the ass and expensive.So, the ad issue is not completely pure.It is not a one way street — Forbes, as an example, will no longer let you get past their landing page if you use an adblocker. They are willing to pick a fight.I am always willing to pay for the slightly premium service feeling like I am mooching when I use the free service. It is more about money — the website or app earned the consideration.Ads are becoming progressively more obnoxious at the same time the issue is trying to sort itself out.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Jake Baker

      Great point re Forbes – the net result for me? I no longer even click on their links – just kind of a pain and enough content elsewhere.EVEN greater point on viruses. This is why I think distinction between ad blocking and broader “tracker” blocking such as those ID’d by ghostery is a key topic.Are you willing to share services you use?

      1. JLM

        .I use Ad Blocker in a few different forms as Chrome extensions and Trend Micro Maximum Security. This is on the recommendation of my computer genius friend. I can tell the difference.Where I have gotten hosed is in Steamboat Springs on a network I do not use often. Since I got the Russian MoFo Hijacker cleaned off, I haven’t had much trouble but he tells me it’s the ads and others in SBS have used my computer to do shopping around Christmas time.The other thing he insists on is my turning off my physical connection to the Internet at night. Unplug the computer connection.I refuse to wear garlic around my neck when I use the Internet.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          Have you ever considered simply using a Mac for browsing the Internet and for email?Also as a side note anyone on a Mac should have the account that you use everyday not have admin privileges. It should just be a standard user. You setup the admin user as a login just for when you need that (which should be close to never).This is on the recommendation of my computer genius friend….The other thing he insists on is my turning off my physical connection to the Internet at night. Unplug the computer connection.Judging by your comment I can garner ie “my computer genius friend” your degree of knowledge about these things (that is not a dig hey you know things that I don’t know about, right?) Anyway you may not be aware that there is an entire complex of people, particularly on the windows side, that exist solely to service the deficiencies of that operating system. That is one of the reasons that Windows has a lock. Similar to tobacco there are many mouths that make money by keeping the status quo (security and usability problems) as they are, even if they lodge complaints at the same time. The proverbial “tech guy to the idiots” can make a living just keeping the jalopies running.This is really no different then with IBM before that and IT departments (why they were scared of the PC). They didn’t want things to be easy to use. Computer geeks (paid or otherwise) get their value (money or social positive feedback) from being the knight in shining armor to the less knowledgeable. (I am serious about this..)One smart thing that Gates did (intentional or unintentional) was have a crap system that found new use for tech guys and kept them employed.Amazon is following this model as well. AWS is a clusterfuck of different ways to do things and you actually have to break a sweat to rosetta stone translate their way from the way you’ve know for years (and yes they do add some things that didn’t exist prior to that as well).

          1. JLM

            .I am fairly scrappy when it comes to computers as I have been involved back to Fortran cards but I admit to knowing next to nothing when it comes to knocking out the Russian virus. Other than that I grade out well.I have been able to do my own laundry until this last virus which wrecked everything.I must begrudgingly admit that I do think Apple is a better system but I have been wearing tie shoes too long to consider changing though I just might.JLMwww.themusingsofthtebigredc…

          2. LE

            To bad we are not in the same town. I could easily explain to you in person exactly why a man of your fine sensibilities should be using Apple by highlighting the quality of the hardware and the ease of using the software. A work of art it is. That said for me all that is icing on the cake it’s simply the easiest and least frustrating way to get something done. It’ is the right tool for the job.

    2. Lawrence Brass

      With the type of viruses you are getting, I suggest you leave a T-bone steak and some water in the porch, preferably before sunset. And probably some vodka.

      1. JLM

        .Add that to the suggestion to “reboot” and water, vodka, red meat will cure about anything.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. Jeff Jones

      Since you had the Russian Ural Mountains triple dirty sixteen canine teeth version of a virus you have to listen to this podcast on Ransomware viruses that originate from the former Soviet Union.

  8. Jess Bachman

    I don’t use an ad blocker, but only because I am interested in how websites are doing advertising……. and also because I hate myself.

    1. Jake Baker

      Check out ghostery to really see what the websites are using broadly for “advertising” and gathering intelligence on users.

      1. Mike O'Horo

        My Ghostery report usually shows about two dozen trackers for a big site. About 40% are ad services, another 40% are behavior trackers, and about 20% are widgets, social media connectors, and video services.

    2. jason wright

      we can help with the self hate.inspired by yesterday’s discussion there is a plan. join the AVC family and feel the love;”if we’re taking the Bader Scalia relationship as the model for harmony in discourse then we will all have to go on vacation together once a year.i suggest a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to buy this place to become an AVC island retreat outside Berlin;…Think Davos, but with diversity, and it’s not going to be run like those places in Oregon i’ve read about either.I’ll start the ball rolling. one bitcoin.”P.S. if there’s interest i’ll up that to ten, and then it only needs 999 more equivalent contributions (assuming the price of bitcoin does rise a little more and i can talk the asking price down).

    3. Lawrence Brass

      Same here, we have to understand the beast to tame it.

    4. JimHirshfield

      I hate you less than you hate yourself

      1. Lawrence Brass

        Patent that before you know who does!

        1. Twain Twain

          LOL, that’s another reason to read regularly — to see how we wordplay and satire folks’ wisdoms.Well played!

    5. Yinka!

      Heh, you should hate yourself less. Plus, blocking tools are an efficient way to collate lists of what ad networks, trackers, etc. that sites use individually and in aggregate.

    6. JLM

      .Long time ago, a guy said, “You’re a first rate prick. I can’t wait to piss on your grave, asswipe.”The guy turns to another guy, an innocent bystander, and says, “How about you?””Nah, I hate long lines.”You do NOT hate yourself. You’re special and people really like you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    7. ShanaC

      I don’t think you hate yourself as much as are aware that many ad blockers use as much memory as ads themselves. In some cases, more

  9. William Mougayar

    The other approach is to encourage non-intrusive ads that flow better with content, which is the approach that Yieldmo is taking in mobile specifically.

    1. awaldstein

      What is an non intrusive ad?Example please.

        1. awaldstein

          will but conceptually feels like a non starter.

          1. William Mougayar

            think of it that way:You know in Europe, the TV ads are interesting- they are funny, original, and they catch your attention. I see Yieldmo’s approach similar. What if mobile Ads were catchy, non-annoying, useful, educational, amusing and you don’t mind them? Back to Ogilvy’s principles- where the Ad educates if well done. Back to writing good copy, with good creative.

          2. Sam

            And good targeting… Direct marketers have been saying this for decades. You can have the same creative, same copy, and get “junk mail” if your targeting is off and “what a great offer” if you got it right.

          3. awaldstein

            of course. i’m a student of his as well.but if the answer is that everyone will just do better creative and use smart templates like you shared, we are looking at a decade ahead that is the same as the one that just passed.

        2. awaldstein

          actually well done but an add is still just there a world beyond advertising for enterprise brands–i think so.

      1. Anne Libby

        A lot of podcasts have the non-intrusive ad down cold. That said, some don’t.Recently listened to one with 2:30 of promotional content up front on a 30 minute podcast, sort of half disguised as actual content. Unsubscribe.

        1. awaldstein

          Agree but are sponsorships really the same thing as an interrupt ad?

          1. Anne Libby

            It depends on how the info is delivered, I guess? I don’t know, it’s not my area of interest.I just know that after clocking 2:30 of talk about some products the podcasters LOVED I stone cold unsubscribed from a zeitgeisty podcast that some in my circles have been talking about.On reflection, and being less curmudgeonly, I was listening to the podcast for content expertise. These podcasters are subject matter experts, not radio producers or salespeople. Maybe they’ll get better.The NPR-trained podcasters do a great job with ads. Maybe because they’re steeped in how public radio talks about their donor/sponsors.

          2. awaldstein

            Agree NPR is a master. Ira Glass especially.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        easy, an ad printed on the back of your T shirt.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          … and a vision of the future: Internet of T shirts (IoT), plenty of back and chest space for (even more) unwanted ads.

        2. awaldstein

          That’s called fashion.

    2. Rob Leathern

      Like what Yieldmo is doing – but many of the definitions of “non-intrusive” ads lend themselves to harmful offers that sit behind text links. A proper scheme for getting users who typically block ads to opt into letting some through will validate the identity of advertisers and (to some extent) the validity of their offers. e.g.… Here are some proposed solutions.

  10. jason wright

    ad blockers no. bit blockers maybe if things don’t improve in the ecosystem

  11. Julien

    There’s a tremendous work to do around ads, beams, the business models of the web. I use Ghostery, not so much because I want to “block” ads, but because it lets me understand what kind of trail I leave on the web. I wish more people would do this because it’s enlightning.For the past years and for public companies, I’ve looked at what it would cost to cover the revenue of advertising per user and if I would be willing to pay for this out of my pocket. This comes up much cheaper that I expected. For example, in 2013 (this has arguably increased), Quartz reported that the monthly ARPU for Twitter was about 55 cents (that’s $6/year roughly). Would I pay for that if Twitter removed all ads and tracking: YES (and on a 10 year basis!). (see…It’s an interesting exercise and I wish we would do it more systematically! (I’d love it if the analysts a USV gave it a shot!)

    1. Jake Baker

      To quote the bar tender, yesssssss!

    2. scottythebody

      Great idea. Yes, that’s the key. We’ve been talking about it for over a decade now, but micropayments that are drop dead easy and value to the end user. If I had to enter a credit card on for a $6.00/year recurring charge, I think I’d just say “forget it.”

      1. Cody Cowan

        What if you could pay one monthly fee that gets distributed to the people who make the content you interact with, anywhere on the web, automatically (and in proportion to how much of your attention you spend with each creator)?

        1. Drew Meyers

          Interesting proposition. For sure.

          1. Cody Cowan

            glad you think so – check out – thats what I’m building!

      2. Julien

        Browsers should have made this easier a long time ago. If it’s so simple for Apple in iTunes, why hasn’t it been something added to my browser? Browsers are “app stores”: they fill the discovery void!

    3. ChrisS

      I use Privacy Badger for the same reason. I try to white list sites that give me access to high quality content for free, and I’m more concerned, and interested in learning more about, privacy and tracking. I think it’s a shame that ad blocking seems to have been merged with online privacy and many people see them as a single issue. I think we need more clarity around these topics. Broad-based use of ad blockers seems like overkill, and it’s hurting the content creators.

    4. Paul Sanwald

      I use ghostery for this reason, as well as page load speed. I don’t use a standard ad blocker. Desktop only, I don’t browse enough on mobile for me to care.I would happily pay out of pocket for most content I consume online, but I think very few people would.

      1. Mike O'Horo

        As one poster observed, often you have to make the buy decision without knowing the value of the content. One of my clients posted a link to a Forbes article. Obviously, I have to read it to be able to discuss it with him. Forbes blocks access if you’re using an ad blocker. It’s easy for me to suspend Ghostery for the moment so I can read the article. But if I had to make a discrete buy at that moment, the barrier wouldn’t be the cost so much as the buying process. If I had a Forbes pay account set up ahead of time, that would eliminate the problem, but I don’t consume enough content on Forbes to justify that. HBR does a good job of selling their articles with detailed abstracts that allow you to say, “This is definitely worth reading, and I’ll pay $5 to get it.” It’s almost like Kindle-lite, i.e., it’s not a whole chapter sample, but enough to get you hooked.

      2. Cody Cowan

        You say happy to pay for most content – would you really want many different subscriptions, or one tool that lets you pay each service/creator in proportion to how much you use them?

    5. pointsnfigures

      Question: You’d pay Twitter today. Would you have paid them at the outset? How long would you have to use the service before it proved it’s value to you and you could opt in to pay? Would you pay for Facebook? Other social media?

      1. Michael Elling

        Very good set of questions. Behind them, you’re really asking what are real costs, what is real value. How much of both should be shared? etc….At the macro level, apps and the disconnected app world are built to the average person and there is no true network effect across the ecosystem to account for the enormous diversity of demand. You’ve downloaded 100 apps. You use 20 and only 5-10 regularly. Everyone has a different variation, but same math. Not a sustainable model in general.At the micro level, apps should come in the following flavors:-free/intro-standard (low cost or free)-custom (costs)-and you should be able to use and/or proxy across all screens/devicesThose apps that can command charging should work with other free apps to help tailor the user experience and share some of their value. That would create more traction, usage and sustainability.There would be a lot more horizontal platforms built behind the scenes to enable cross-app and cross-device and cross-network functionality. Ultimately, extending competitive forces down and out to the edges of the stack. We can apply examples of scalable horizontal ecosystems to all layers of the stack and replace or complement the current ad-reliant settlement model.

      2. Steve Poland

        I never have used Whatsapp, but loved that business model. First year free, which sucked you in. Then $0.99/yr after.Evernote has done the same to me. Used it for years for free, finally was sucked in, and now pay for it.Not that I want to use these services for free, but less friction at beginning when I’m not sure if I even need it. Suck me in by providing value and become a “need to have” in my life, and I’ll pay you.Twitter I would happily pay for.

      3. Ryan Frew

        Hulu did a good job with this. I remember when a 45 minute show had 30 seconds worth of ads. Then, as they scaled, so did the amount of commercial time. Tough to say exactly how much of this was necessary, in order to cover cost, and how much was “greed”. Then, once the user base was strong enough, they offered a paid subscription that removed ads.

      4. Julien

        Actually, I would not pay Twitter today for my personal account. The value of my stream is near 0 these days… but I would have paid a lot more back in the day when the information I got from it was less noise. I’d pay for Facebook today, while it might not have been the case. I’d pay for Google (even if I use DDG for most searches).

    6. Chris.Wronski

      Has anyone here used Google Contributor? It also looks like a good way to fund sites that you value the content of.I originally started using script-blockers and ad-blockers out of fear of viruses and malvertising which is a serious and growing concern, but it is amazing how much faster the web runs when you block all of the 3rd party crap. I understand though that it costs money to run a business and I am perfectly fine with sites putting up a banner or a request to turn off your ad-blocker. This functions the same as a pay wall — It forces the user to decide how important it is to view the content.Let’s be honest though, as ad-blockers grow in popularity, the sites will just find other ways to serve up the same ads. We have been here before and this is a bit of a never ending arms race. Does anyone remember the days of pop-up ads?

      1. Clayton

        I’m a “Contributor” for a few dollars a month. My only complaint is that I notice that it blocks the least annoying ads while letting the most annoying ones through. Perhaps the more annoying ones have a higher CPM.

  12. ZekeV

    I stopped using an ad block b/c publishers have started breaking their websites so they don’t render correctly (e.g., NYT). However, I can confidently assert that I have NEVER bought anything advertised in a display banner or other paid content. Someone is subsidizing my free reading, but it isn’t me and it isn’t the publisher. (I’m sure I have bought plenty of things under the influence of Google or Amazon’s search / recommendation algorithms, but that is a different story.)Users should be free to run whatever software they want on their own computers. I agree with the view that it is up to the publisher or app company to figure out a way to monetize if that’s what they need. Personally I don’t think it would be a great loss if it were more difficult to monetize trivial “content” on the web.

  13. Ian Smith

    Desktop only!

  14. LIAD

    i take issue with those using the ‘opt out to force a better business model’ argument and framing it as honourable. it’s not. it’s no different from stealing from a store, to force them to find a better business model.I use an ad-blocker and accept all that it morally entails. make a decision. own it.don’t try and blur the lines and pretend you’re doing it sanctimoniously’

    1. LE

      i take issue with those using the ‘opt out to force a better business model’ argument and framing it as honourable.Agree. People will buff their buns with any pious rationalization. it’s no different from stealing from a store, to force them to find a better business model.Oh it’s quite different then stealing from a store. Stealing from a store (big or small) comes with consequences to you personally. Not watching advertising by use of an ad blocker does not. It’s what I call “the stick”. The stick is a powerful motivator. It’s one of the reasons you don’t steal from a store but you will exceed the speed limit.Not all “stealing” is the same.Are people who don’t leave comments on AVC “stealing” since part of the appeal is the comments? Nobody would ever think that though, right? Not defined by law, the moderator or even the rest of the community. But in a sense if nobody left comments that wouldn’t be good, would it?The contract is very simple on the internet with respect to content. There is no implied legal or moral “you must watch ads and be a good citizen”. It’s just something that people like to think makes them a good person vs. the other guy.

    2. Simone

      Can I recommend you a book – Who owns the future by Jaron Lanier. I hope it will make you reconsider your relation to www. You are data, audience and content provider, a buyer etc., not someone who is abusing the poor www by using an add blocker. We (our data, eyeballs, content, money and Time) have built facebook, youtube and all the other thousands of www success stories, including this blog :). Your time, consideration and thought quality are valued much more than most of disposable content we consume daily by habit. I am sure there is an equilibrium somewhere, sorry – I am sure the house (www) always wins.I hope you will find the time for this book and it will change your mind.I have an adblocker for 2 months and I can’t believe I used to not have it. No guilt here and no justification.

  15. Kurt Stangl

    I don’t use ad blockers because I need to keep visibility on how folks are using ads with the caveat that sites that go crazy with too many ads get flagged and I never go back…

  16. scottythebody

    I use Ghostery in all my browsers on laptop/desktop and use a block on iOS now that IOS has a built in API for blockers.If a site doesn’t work with ad blockers turned on, then I just don’t go to that site. Same thing with Flash or Flash video. Lots of other things to see on the web.I used to have Fred’s philosophy in hopes the the money would benefit the service. But the way people are doing ads these days just eats my battery, kills my data plan, annoys me, and violates my privacy.

  17. harvestgrand

    I do not mind ads, I actually encourage them if they are relevant. I do however have a flash blocker installed which ultimately blocks many ads. It is very distracting reading an article when there is a busy video playing in the corner or worse when sounds comes on when you are in a quite place.

  18. kevando

    Desktop only

  19. William Mougayar

    And a big publisher won’t let you proceed to their content, if you are using an Ad blocker. Blocking the blocker, weird.I need another Blocker to block the Ad blocking blocker.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Is your browser constipated?

    2. Ana Milicevic

      Who blocks the blockers of the ad blockers?

      1. JimHirshfield

        The adblockers.Seriously, the adblocking community has added blocking rules to block “adblock walls” – the wall that a publisher uses to prevent adblockers getting to content.

        1. Ana Milicevic

          Next the ad block walls will refine their detection of ad blockers and we’ll all be able to use the ‘that escalated quickly’ gif πŸ™‚

        2. William Mougayar

          Who you gonna call?Adblockers!

      2. William Mougayar

        new category πŸ™‚

    3. Yinka!

      Check the ABP site and forum regularly – they update filters 24/7, inlcuding block-the-blocker attempts like this.

    4. Simone Brunozzi

      If you remove an AdBlocker, Forbes actually serves you MALWARE. Not kidding.

    5. sschaloc

      This is not an ad blocker-blocker. It is a customer blocker.They obviously do not want me to read their stuff. So be it.

      1. Conor

        Are you a customer if you don’t pay and you don’t view ads? Or is that a web version of pirating? πŸ™‚

    6. ShanaC

      Not surprised

  20. Jonathan Nation

    There was one really bad ad that was my breaking point & installed an adblocker … I think it was a autoplay video with the sound on while I was working & I could not find any way to make the sound go away (or stop the video) … something like that.Not installed one on my Android based phone, yet, but I’ve also not noticed it as much. Might be due to my use of my phone & I am not normally in a browser, but native apps.

  21. JTio

    I use one on the desktop only. It is uBlock Origin and was recommended by Steve Gibson on Security Now. It is more for keeping malware and ransomware from getting on my laptop as I really need this thing to be clean. Especially when reputable sites like have been proven to deliver malicious ads.**Originally said but should have been

    1. JimHirshfield

      Please point me to info on Fortune serving malvertising. I can’t find any coverage of that.

        1. Chris.Wronski

          Don’t forget, Drudge Report, and Wunderground last year, not to mention the ones we don’t know about yet.<http:”” security=”” 2015=”” 08=”” my-browser-visited-drudgereport-and-all-i-got-was-this-lousy-malware=””/>It’s not the individual websites’ fault per se, but that’s little comfort if you are someone who has been infected with malware due to a 3rd party ad.I can vouch for the usefulness of uBlock Origin… but it is highly complex. If you configure your own DNS and NTP servers on your home network setup then uBlock Origin might be the ad-blocker for you. If you are not a geek then I suggest to try something like Ghostery or Privacy-Badger coupled with ScriptSafe (Chrome) or NoScript (Firefox). In my experience, Ghostery and Privacy-Badger can peacefully coexist with ScriptSafe/NoScript.IMHO: For many internet users, I think that some sort of thin client like a Chromebook is the future of computing.

        2. JimHirshfield

          Oh. Thanks.

  22. Anne Libby

    The worst is clicking a Twitter link to read an article in Twitter, and landing on poorly designed ads that are difficult to dismiss if they’re not of interest.I use Ghostery on my desktop, and pay for paywalled content. These days, only NYT (which needs to fix its mobile UI so that navigating less likely to accidentally move you out of the article — usually to another article! not an ad.)On mobile, I use the iOS Reader View whenever it’s available. (I don’t even know if the reader view shows ads. My unconscious may be scooping up everything, but my mental ad-block is usually switched on.)

    1. Jake Baker

      iOS broader view is great! Love that format and yes – eliminates the noise of ads and poor design to just give the written content. Also a sort of a mobile f.lux lite with with white on black text at night.

    2. pointsnfigures


    3. Ana Milicevic

      I like the concept of a mental ad block. That one is more dangerous than an actual ad blocker to marketers and the advertising industry as a whole. Except on Super Bowl day which is our national holiday and pretty much the only day in the year when people outside of the industry actually care about ads πŸ™‚

      1. Lawrence Brass

        I think most people develop the mental ad block eventually, in the end the ads end up being just noise. The issue is cheap spamvertising vs quality and effective advertising.

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen


      3. ShanaC

        Which is bad. It means that the ads are bad

  23. LE

    The problem is not all ads are the same. Some ads are unwanted and annoying and some ads are great because they are reminders of what you had interest in. So in some cases helpful and in others not. The only ads that I would pay to universally block are the ones that appear on youtube videos and the ones that appear as pre-rolls for newspaper site videos. Those are not only worthless to me in content, but also miscalculated as a revenue source. Making someone watch a 30 second video to see a 2 minute clip of someone attacked on the subway or a blooper is overkill in almost all cases. Nothing is that interesting. I typically bail when that happens.Other annoying ads? The ones that appear on PBS videos. If you don’t login to PBS and you need to restart a video (say a day later) you have to go through long ads a few times. (May also happen when you login but I’ve never tried that..)

  24. LE

    I have always resisted using an ad blocker on the view that I value the web and mobile services I use and they need to make money somehow.No ad blockers at all. Never have. Has nothing to do with good citizenship either. Just don’t care to use them I am fine (with the exception of videos as mentioned in another comment) with whatever ads appear now.Actually on second thought ads that pop over the entire screen to get you to sign up for something are super annoying. But I just quickly click through those.

  25. James McCarthy

    I use on mobile and iPad and on Firefox and Chrome, but haven’t got around to on Safari. I’m nomadic and often the connections I get to use are less than stellar. The majority of my ‘browsing’ has moved to apps on mobile devices and I see that trend continuing. I’d willingly pay a small fee to never have my bandwidth wasted by another ad. I never click on a single ad and am almost entirely blind to them so they are a pure annoyance. If I knew the value I get from a site is going straight to that author I’d be delighted.

  26. Lawrence Brass

    It is so relevant from the entrepreneur point of view, choosing from where do you want or think your revenue will come from defines the company, in my opinion.I wish ads were smarter and nicer. That would remove part of the burden of being continuosly distracted.

  27. Joe Marchese

    We live in attention economy, with attention being the scarce resource. When I give a channel my attention, I’m not happy that they sell it to someone else. Ad blockers are but one instance of people managing their attention. I fully understand that so much media relies on advertising for revenue, and would have to reinvent their models. Why do we treat the challenge as unique to them? Because of the scale? I’d be happy to see micropayments form a key part of the solution. First up for me has been the NYT on my Kindle: advertising-free and at $20/month, cheaper than their other offers.

    1. JimHirshfield

      $20/month is not a micropayment – obviously, you know that. So, just sayin’, bad example Joe. Average consumer is not going to pay $20/month for one news product…and then pony up multiples of that to cover all the other content they consume.

      1. Joe Marchese

        Point taken, Jim. And you’re right, I’m not forking over that kind of $$ every time I want to avoid ads… my ad blocker does most of the heavy lifting. I’ve had the Kindle NYT subscription since it was first offered, even wrote to the Managing Editor that delivery thru that channel should allow me inside the pay wall. I found the ad-free consumption an unexpectedly delightful experience. But I find it ironic that I can skip the ads and save money over the alternative NYT subscription models: the Kindle subscription allows full digital access across all (other) devices, when my ad blocker kicks in.

  28. pointsnfigures

    I use them. The content providers like Forbes etc are now not letting me see articles. Considering taking it off. Had to take off some stuff on Facebook because it wouldn’t load. Now I get all kinds of notifications when I am on my laptop and don’t like it. Distracting.BTW, when I click on the poll i go to your tweet not a poll.

  29. kidmercury

    The bitcoin as micropayments service idea breaks down when you factor in conversion to “real” currencies, which is of course where bit coin always breaks down.I don’t use ad blockers, only because I’m lazy. I don’t think they will drive people to pay for content as in general people only do that if v required (speaking regarding aggregated view). I do think ad blockers will fuel the rise of sponsored content and native ads, which are trends already in play anyway.

  30. iggyfanlo

    I have a different take. 30 years ago we traded either our attention (ads) for free content or paid for ad-free content. Then the digital revolution changed everything and began tracking our every move and all out data. We as consumers deserve more in return.Ad blocking is the natural response or a consumer data union that takes back some of the value extracted I’ve the last two decades

  31. Michael Elling

    Much of this has come from the intrusiveness and performance of video ads. What’s worse than a long video add (15+ seconds) is one that buffers or jitters. There was a while back when ads on ESPNFC in particularly were hanging every 5-6 articles. I stopped reading them for a while. It appears to have improved recently.Rather than ad block, I have 3 screens and multiple browser tabs and windows and apps open at any one time, so I just move my attention to something else until the ad is over; unless it is short and interesting. I guess the latter is the point. As for mobile, I basically never watch an ad on my own 4G dime and occasionally will suffer through when I know I am on wifi. I mostly email important/relevant content to myself and consume later on the desktop.From a macro perspective, we’re getting to the point where one has to question the settlement model (or lack thereof) of the internet itself. There is value in price signals that provide incentives and disincentives between actors which results in rapid and ubiquitous upgrade of endpoints to enable ubiquitous, inexpensive access for all without unduly invading one’s privacy or attention.

  32. Sebastian Wain

    I don’t have the option for desktop only…

  33. bogorad

    I use Ghostery, both on desktop and mobile, with everything blocked, except google analytics (I like that google knows everything about me; yes, I also have google location history=on all the time), and some site-specific white-lists (e.g. Disqus for some sites, adobe type manager for others, some frameworks for specific online stores, etc). As a side effect it decimates most ads.

  34. Ana Milicevic

    Ad tech vet here who’s spent the better part of her career working on making the digital advertising, marketing & content experiences better. Monetizing content is hard – especially since we as users have been conditioned that our watching and reading online is free. In reality it has been heavily subsidized by advertisers who were excited by new possibilities to reach people (and then served them re-hashed ads from TV campaigns or recycled banner ads on mobile for years). You either delivered extremely premium content like NYT, Economist, FT, etc (and even for these old media stalwarts the road has been rocky) or you go for extreme scale (when things like ‘related links’ or ‘from the web’ clickbait starts looking appealing because it delivers a mostly reliable check each month). In this process the advertising industry lost focus on the end user who has now been trained to interpret ads as a nuisance instead of a value add (I wrote about that challenge here: http://www.sparrowadvisers…. ). I find this incredibly ironic given that the technology we’ve developed over the years enables us to do very cool, personalized things yet there’s been precious little innovation on how to effectively leverage this as part of an annual marketing plan.We’re now (finally) seeing interesting innovation on the native content marketing front (Netflix’s great campaign for Narcos is an excellent example:…, subscriptions (The Information and Longreads are good examples on extreme ends of the optionality and pricepoint spectrum), and one-off donations (a la tipjar although I suspect we’ll see more Patreon-style support emerge for small, nimble teams of content creators).Speaking of weird experiences, I clicked on the embed link in Fred’s tweet to vote (btw, I don’t use ad blockers but I’ve disabled Flash which unexpectedly improves a lot of the autoplay intrusiveness that would otherwise happen). Like a normal internet-using human I was expecting the poll, including seeing the results, to happen in-line (within the embed window). Instead, a click launched a new tab to Fred’s Twitter and that janky lightbox they have going on with his poll and tweet now in the new tab, in the lightbox. It was so dumb I closed the whole tab. In short, WTF Twitter?!!!/end rant

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      +1000 to all this. Outbrain and the like capture this story perfectly. It’s native! It’s content marketing! It’s total lowest-common-denominator click-bait garbage πŸ™ Womp. Womp. Algorithms don’t have taste πŸ˜‰

  35. Ranjit

    I use a desktop ad blocker. I pay for content (nyt, wsj, spotify) -what really irks me is when I am subjected to ads even after I have paid. I am not sure the nyt actually discriminates based on whether one is a user or not (shouldnt they?). In general, I focus a lot on stock research and many sites look like they did in the 90s …Someone here mentioned forbes. II dont go there any more. Finally, type in any [ticker] stock on google and the first fee search results are always robo stories – clicking on them is surreal (not only because of the language, clearly generated by a machine) but also because the sites are like a time warp…

  36. K_Berger

    I don’t use an ad blocker because I find it interesting to see what kind of ads are being used where.Regarding micro-payments, does bitcoin really add much value over a typical payment method that could, for example, charge your credit card some small amount on a regular basis and distributes payments accordingly?

  37. Ryan Frew

    Where is the option for desktop only?

  38. Collin

    I didn’t use an ad blocker for the longest time, but the quantity of ads that are on certain sites degrades the experience to the point where I can’t justify having ads active in many cases. I leave it off for quite a few sites I visit regularly because I both want to support them and run an agency and I like to see ads. The problem really arises from sites with so many advertisements that it makes the website incredibly slow to load. There is nothing more frustrating than ads making a website take 5+ seconds to load resulting in you accidentally clicking on an ad because it pops up where you’re clicking on a navigational element.

  39. Peter Radizeski

    You have the ad-blocker. Then you have the publisher who is mad at Google, ad blockers and users.To get more page views, they add insertial pages, hundreds of slide show articles, click bait and crappy content. It has become a spiral game that ends up with no one happy – a lousy reader experience. I think publishers have kicked the can down the road to far on micro-payments or some form of business model that doesn’t involve so many obtrusive ads and trackers. I am angrier at the behavorial trackers than the ads. I now use firefox in stealth mode as often as possible and then clear all folders and cache when firefox closes each time.

  40. Jonathan Libov

    Notable how the younger you are, the more likely you are to install an ad blocker on mobile (from Ben Bajarin’s Creative Strategies)

    1. JimHirshfield

      The younger demographic didn’t grow up watching broadcast TV with commercial interruptions. So, no surprise that they’re ticked off by pre-rolls.

  41. Jay Rolette

    It’s a security issue. Sites that integrate ad networks don’t vet the ads to make sure they aren’t malicious. Sadly the ad networks do virtually nothing to ensure their content is safe.Sites like Forbes that try to force you to disable ad blockers are places I no longer bother going to. Not because legit ad content bothers me (easy enough to ignore), but because of things like this:…Forbes forced users to disable the ad blockers and then it served up malware!

    1. Jay Rolette

      Beyond the security issues, there are also big performance problems with the ad networks. The ad networks are incentivized to take take longer because it provides more bidding time for ad purchasers, which increases the amount of money they take in.Before I started using ad blockers, it wasn’t uncommon to give up on waiting for a site to load more often than not because the page was waiting for one of the ad networks to respond.

  42. Andu @

    So here’s an issue – any 3rd party content that is loaded off-site has the potential of being blocked by ad blockers, if users decide it should be. Like an embedded Tweet, a SlideShare presentation, or anything along those lines.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Adblock community actually has guidelines. They only block domains that serve ads. They don’t arbitrarily block, say a tweet, just because.

      1. Andu @

        Thanks, I didn’t know this.

  43. curtissumpter

    I don’t use an ad blocker because I’m not against ads. I’m against ads that I don’t like. But I often find the more targeted the ad the more useful it is to me.Ironically, I’ve found the more I allow my browser full visibility into my life the better and more relevant the ads. The result is I’m really enjoying my full web experience.

  44. Fernando Gutierrez

    Re micropayments and bitcoin for this, check ProTip ( by Chris Ellis. It is Chrome extension that finds bitcoin addresses in the sites you visit and then divides your preset amount of bitcoin among the sites, allocating funds according to time spent. What I really love is that publishers just need to publish their address, no need for complicated setups or plugins.Btw, I use adblockers everywhere. I don’t mind the ads so much, but I don’t like being tracked everywhere I go.Edit: ProTip stores your browsing data in your computer, there is no server.

  45. Rob Leathern

    Great post Fred – we’re launching a service that does just that, and will pay publishers (initially the same average amount they’d make from ads) for your adblocker usage, with the ability for users to increase/decrease the amount each publisher gets based on their tastes/usage/how much they enjoy the content. If you’re interested in the Beta please go to

  46. David Parker

    Desktop only. Why not have that as an option? Otherwise, I’m sure the results are going to be skewed / not worthwhile…

  47. Salt Shaker

    If you look at the history of consumer media, most successful companies have operated w/ a dual rev stream (subscription/advertising). In legacy publishing, the subscription side of the equation often operated at a loss and was used to drive audience and scale, which then could be monetized via paid advertising. A media company with a paid ad free model alone today will likely not scale to profitability. The price/value and “pain point” for a mass audience is just not there to justify the consumer investment. I think to drive conversion from free-to-pay more modeling needs to be done where, in addition to being ad free, exclusive, incremental and meaningful content is provided w/ a premium subscription. Streaming music services that offer an ad free version, like Pandora, have relatively small sub counts cause the price/value of their offering (ad free) just isn’t strong enough. There’s no exclusive content, an attribute that likely will have even greater value to a consumer when packaged w/ ad free or ad free alone. With respect to ad tech, the whole forced exposure aspect of advertising today not only diminishes the value of the product/brand showcasing an ad, but the company being advertised. Native helps but there needs to be far more creative, seamless and less intrusive ad tactics deployed to minimize alienating readers, viewers and listeners. A big part of the problem is execution.

    1. Michael Elling

      Those models existed in a world of analog contraints: distribution, media, context, etc..A completely new set of realities happens with “digital”. Not just on the publishing side, but equally on the viewer side. Furthermore, an entirely new engagement layer can open and knowledge creation, management, distillation can occur. If information is power, knowledge is value. And not only capturing but sharing that value is critical.Right now, little of that happens because the process/approach is still too silo-ed and ad-centric. Few are thinking beyond their silo walls to the diversity of their viewers experience and contexts. By empowering the user, entirely new engagement (revenue) models can occur and entirely new ways of getting, keeping and stimulating viewers (cost) can develop.

      1. Salt Shaker

        I agree silo-ed walls are a huge impediment, but not sure those walls will ever or should fully disappear, particularly in publishing. Micro-pay or a la carte will never transplant full paid subscription models as there’d be too much rev fragmentation benefitting the mighty. If consumers are exclusively buying what they want, then only top tier content providers would find success, again especially in publishing where a digital ecosystem provides literally hundreds, if not thousands, of choices. It would be the death knell of many fairly well known 2nd and 3rd tier publishing brands and a greater concentration of strength at the top. You’d also see a lot more acquisitions and industry consolidation. The publishing industry frequently models w/ a dual rev stream, not by choice, but to sustain its infrastructure. I’m not sure there’s a large enough audience for ad free, relative to its high premium cost, to make the model work.

        1. Michael Elling

          Ads and paywalls and subscription models would still work. But there is a big opportunity that the larger players are missing out to equitably work with the smaller players (or with each other). Reasons are a lower cost of getting or supporting the demand. Or less capital or investment intensive. But another reason is that sometimes generativity just happens better with smaller players.And that’s not just the case for publishers, but all app service providers, aggregators, MSPs, and physical networks.For instance Netflix has built a substantial platform that no one thought they could ever build or get this far. Now, to fuel their expansion into international markets (which are not like the US at all) and develop original content they are raising prices. This is a mistake, as the price increase doesn’t directly relate to incremental value or cost for either the average or marginal user.Instead they should work with others (content producers, sports networks and other aggregators) to use their platform as a base for a la carte purchasing, or selective distribution, or pay by the minute/hour viewing, etc.. All of this would expand the revenue opportunity and choice for the entire video ecosystem while keeping opex/capex down.The approach would in fact drive broadband to 5bn people faster than freebasics.

    2. ShanaC

      Execution is a creativity issue

  48. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I almost started a service that would syndicate branded content in an advertising-like marketplace. Content marketers could put branded content into the marketplace and publishers could choose to syndicate the branded content and get paid (flat fee, cpm or whatever). It was a way to mostly automate the process of content marketing. I lost interest in favor of another project, but I still think it’s an idea that could work for all the players involved .Personally, I’ve never blocked ads. I don’t find them annoying enough to block them, and I prefer them to paying for everything. They don’t bother me enough to justify going to the trouble to block them.If a site/app is so bogged down with ads that I have a hard time getting to the content/service, I just forego it. There’s almost no such thing as an exclusive any more. I’ll get it somewhere else. HuffPo was an example (don’t know if they’re still offenders).Where I’m willing to pay is for streaming entertainment. I don’t want ads interrupting my movies, tv shows, music or podcasts.

    1. Ana Milicevic

      I know a company in stealth that’s tackling that branded content marketplace problem right now and am so very excited about them!Btw, I’m in the same boat as you re: streaming interruptions and I didn’t realize it until recently upgrading Hulu to no ads by accident. The experience is so much better and I certainly don’t miss the pharma, junk food/drink, and car insurance ads that used to come at me in commercial breaks and that have less than 0 relevance for me.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Oh cool. I can’t wait til they’re out of stealth so I can see what they came up with!

    2. Yinka!

      Y-Y-You’ve never blocked ads?! *Peers at you in wonder*

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Ha ha! I may be showing my age?

        1. Yinka!

          Nah. Just a rare calm/benevolence towards the visual chaos that many sites can be with their ads.

      2. ShanaC

        Me either. I always searching to see if anyone is actually doing something interesting with them

        1. Yinka!

          What? Nooo! I value a calm, clean page (devoid of everything but the content I came for) above curiosity around ads – I’ll read about such in related industry sites, if inclined. Besides, blocking tools are an efficient way for you to collate lists of who is using what ad networks, trackers, etc. individually and in aggregate. Also quite alarming to see how many different trackers a single site can have! Try AdBlockPlus + Ghostery at least.

          1. ShanaC

            Really great ads are beautiful, and deserve to be seen as artwork of a kind. Some even make us think. That digital/display is generally failing at this is highly problematic, but I am also an optimist. Early ads also were terrible for nearly every medium. And the internet has the extra liability of having the first ads adopted en mass by targeted direct response types, rather than those higher up in the funnel building mass recognition and branding.I’m less annoyed by trackers, ect than the fact that most people working on content sites and in ad tech at large involved in implementing end to end a stack, as well as the people inside an ad agency, haven’t quite figured out that people see the ads, and there are real repercussions with time and weight of too much tracking stuff going off at once (especially if it is poorly written, and poorly packaged from various servers, and not lazy loaded, and not compressed, ect, ect, ect). I’m actually tempted to go up to the IAB and write up a usability guide/mandate about how to think about a site, ad server, and ad should work if you actually want to make sure a person is going to care, while also thinking more broadly about how to think about tracking and data. Possibly this is due to knowing how generally these trackers work, and knowing some of the limitations of targeting from an algorithmic and people buying point of view (let’s put this way, I have a funny story about me, okcupid, and Bonobo’s. I promise I don’t wear mens pants)If anything, I think there needs to be strong pushes in the direction of digital ads as a serious pure and commercial artform, both from a data and targeting point of view (buying models around branding are dated) and from rethinking how digital mediums work on a commercial artistic levels. That it is still difficult to find serious coursework at large examining these issues for a fine arts+design student compared to say, watercolor painting*, speaks a lot about the seriousness level digital as artform and a commercial media is taken. (css+code is not a core required curriculum course, lets put it that way, even though thats what ads are made of in digital land)*watermedia, particularly gouche, is used heavily in commercial and pure artforms. watercolor is usually the starting point for teaching @Ana Milicevic (at least about the guide, of many guides πŸ™‚ )

          2. Yinka!

            Indeed very optimistic. You should write that post and make sure the okcupid-Bonobos story is included! The rare time I encounter an ad (e.g. when I temporarily disable ABP to test something else), it is ridiculous to see how mistargeted it is.

          3. ShanaC

            Long story short: OKCupid as an ad supported dating site doesn’t actually use any of the dating profile information or quiz information as data for advertisers. For some things I have a very cross gender personality*, so on some ad networks, some of the time, depending on the day/month/year/things I am thinking about, ad networks/buyers/whathaveyou, as man, usually a bit older than I was, who often worked either in engineering or on wall street. At that specific time, I was actually reading a bunch of future and option contracts for on the CME Group site around commodities and currencies, especially those that do things like compile disparate things into one big thing for trading purposes.^Let me tell you, if you think there aren’t a lot of women who read tech sites, there are even less who sit around poking around the CME groups website reading contract details, especially recent college graduates. (which I was at the time). It is frankly a weird thing to do at that age for most people. *shrug* It is a really not weird thing to do if you are 35-55 and a commodities trader or senior lawyer or work in the oil or coffee business, or have a lot of currency risk.Bonobos decided to target that person (which I wasn’t, and I am still not a commodities trader, have currency risk, or am involved in the oil or coffee business) on okCupid, where at the time I was listed as a single, straight, not on wall street, not engineer woman. Until I decided I got sick of it and would go to refinery29 once a day for 2 weeks straight in order to correct the ad profiling because I knew how the ad profiling and targeting systems worked. They then turned back to relative normal, and I found a great american apparel dress that way that I wear to this day.The end.*apparently this is healthy, being overtly feminine or masculine apparently can make you less resiliant to certain enviroments. Though I don’t think this is what most researchers expect…^I wanted to, and a part of me still does, want to create a derivative/derivatives exchange for digital ads (aka it is upfront week every day!!!!!) to make them suck less: it would force modeling changes in media planning/mix modeling, quantify media risk separately from creative risk (which would make actually taking real creative risks in an ad easier, since you could hedge the media risk!!!!), and allow fluidity for between publishers and brands, since as long as the contract isn’t delivered, they could switch positions, and both buy and sell contracts as they see fit. In the super ideal world, it also would allow for better thinking about targeting and categories, and how they split/don’t split and under what circumstances, as well as a much better understanding of what exactly reach is and under what circumstances/how much is needed for what kind of effects.This idea is rocky, it doesn’t get great fit with any one section of medialand, sadly, because it really rethinks what the model of an ad is a little too much potentially. Murm

          4. Yinka!

            The IAB (interactive advertising bureau) would probably welcome your insight, if its execs weren’t busy doing things like uninviting ad-blocking companies from conferences, blaming/insulting techies and the latest, introducing lame initiatives[1]. Ad+tracker blocking forever for me.[1]

          5. ShanaC

            I honestly don’t know how the IAB would feel about me. I sometimes sound like one of those people yelling “Get off my Lawn!!!”And yes, the initiatives are lame but very very consensus driven. Meh.We should talk about this some day, feel free to sboot me an email πŸ™‚

  49. Joe Lazarus

    I don’t have an issue with ads as long as they are implemented well. In cases where they are overly intrusive, I stop using the service. That seems like a clearer signal to send the company than blocking all ads on all services.

  50. Peter Gasca

    I use an add blocker, but I don’t mind when a request pops up and asks me (once) to turn it off. As an entrepreneur, I understand that right now, that’s the way these companies make money, so it is a free method of me supporting business!

  51. Yinka!

    Le Crux: Most online content is entertaining, not essential.I do use AdBlock (and other anti-trackers) quite tightly – I’m on that addictive clean-browsing crack and not going back. I’m also one of those that advocate alternative business models; they do exist and there are content businesses that use them successfully.You rightly note that a miniscule amount of ad block users would pay subscription fees in lieu of ads. This is because most of content that the majority of people peruse online is non-essential; entertaining at best and highly dispensable. Pockets of exception occur with streaming services like NetFlix, where a growing number of members use it as their sole TV/cable service. Otherwise, if more sites instituted paywalls or hard blocks, that would mostly just reduce avenues for and time spent on procrastination, which isn’t a bad thing.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      “I’m on that addictive clean-browsing crack and not going back” – keeper πŸ™‚

  52. Xander Sherry

    I value the sites and services I use as well, but with the prevalence of malvertising, or malware delivered via unsuspecting ad networks on mainstream websites, I simply can’t justify running a browser without an ad-blocker these days. It’s unfortunate.

  53. Maqx-Dsqs

    I block ads for one reason – PC performance. I was plagued with poor performance on what is a PC that is perfectly adequate for MS Office duty. With 5 tabs open in IE and the sites Yahoo, MSN, NYT, CNN and HUFF POST open, the machine came to a halt. This is an i3 with 8GB of RAM and an SSD! Same on a budget laptop. Some have said, “get a more powerful machine!” – why? To get served ads? To be fair, I do pay for my most used websites and services. I only wish NYT stopped serving ads to even paying customers.

  54. fdesroches

    I use Google Contributor, where for a nominal monthly fee I don’t see ads on select partner sites. Feels worth it to me.

  55. Michael

    The ad-blockers message: Our decision making is not as simple as click and buy. Independence, Transparency, Immediately, Evaluations – these are the key words for the new service level.

  56. Cody Cowan

    What if instead of simply replacing ad revenue via the existing ARPU, users could decide how much they wanted to spend on the whole per month to support their favorite services, and that amount got divided up in proportion to the attention each service/creator/site earned. Its what we’re building with Atri – and we’ve gotten some great initial momentum. (

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      This is an interesting option. Is Flattr a competitor?

      1. Cody Cowan

        Similar for sure, but what I’m talking about is permissionless (meaning publishers don’t have to sign up for it to work) – I’m building it now at – check it out!

  57. Simone

    I have a desktop adblocker and for the first time I feel like I am ‘surfing’ the calms waters of internet, instead of being in the middle of a cheap horror theme park.There should be strict industry standards for ads re sound, image, colours, moves and noises and anything else those little bad ads do (not mentioning contamination with annoying software that even bleach doesn’t cure).I would happily pay micro payments for articles/content generated by my favourite writers. Can’t believe such a platform is not yet globally spread. There must be so many lost sales opportunities because people would pay by article vs a monthly subscription. There should be such a buy button under every single article.

  58. Amar

    Yup, this is why Safari natively supports “Reader View” while Chrome does not. Reader view is fantastic because it cleans out anything distracting and reading is instantaneous … of course it is a train wreck of a feature if the company sole purpose is giving away tools is to generate clicks.

  59. LaMarEstaba

    I use an Ad Blocker. I notice it mostly while using Hulu and Youtube.I got into a discussion with one of my former coworkers a few years ago. We were watching the latest JennaMarbles video and waiting for the 30-second advertisement to stop.”You don’t use an ad blocker? I’ve been using ABP for years…it’s really easy, just a Chrome extension.”He turned to me with a very serious look on his face. “No, I don’t use an ad blocker because I believe in supporting creators on the Internet.””How much do you value your time?””What?””How much is your time worth?”He’s a highly compensated software engineer, so the answer to that was pretty high.”How much do you think that Jenna is making off of you sitting through 30 seconds of advertising?””A fraction of a cent.””So, if you really believed in supporting creators, you’d go buy plush versions of her dogs from her online store, thereby compensating her for her creative work. She’d make a lot more money off of that than what she’s making from having you sit through an advertisement at the beginning of her videos, and you get to save time, time that you could use more productively.”He chewed on that for a while, then the video came on and we watched it.

  60. mikenolan99

    Ad blocker + Blip Enhance. The time is now!

  61. Michael Chou

    “If an ad blocker came with a micro-payments service that automatically paid the web or mobile service the same average revenue per user (ARPU) it was making via ads, that would be cool.”Wouldn’t such option distort the ARPU itself? ARPU is decided by the ad’s value to the advertiser. If more people block ads, the ad value will lower, in effect lowering content creator’s revenue.

  62. Armin RoΘ™u

    I’m blocking desktop only, with both AdBlockPlus (best at blocking ads) and Ghostery (best at blocking everything else). I’ve done this for a good few years now (5+) and I am always amazed by how intrusive the experience is without it.A few websites are whitelisted (e.g. ArsTechnica) because they asked nicely and there’s true value in their content (I will never whitelist Forbes).On mobile I consume most of my news on feedly, so the occasional browsing doesn’t bother me as much, but yes, I am considering upgrading my phone just to be able to block those too.

  63. Ian Smith

    I use a desktop ad blocker at home to speed up page loading, as I only have 1.5Mbps in this rural location. It makes a huge difference.

  64. jason wright

    ad blockers have no reason to exist if advertisers simply target their adds at people who want to see them. YouTube is a huge offender.

  65. Ric

    I use Ghostery in the following manner:. I always block trackers when I find them. I block ads by default, but: – will either pay for access if I intend to continue using a site, or – whitelist the site to display ads in the event that I use them occasionallyI do subscribe to the idea that web properties need some incentive to find better business models, but recognise that they need to survive long enough to do so.

  66. Michael Babich

    Actually, there is no need to swap phone or browser to get an ad blocker solution on mobile. It’s just enough to disable JavaScript in a mobile browser settings and you get great fast light weight web experience since you do not download dozens of megabytes of tracking / ad JS code irrelevant to a site content. Hence, no ads, faster sites. Most sites/articles look fine with JS disabled. If not, it doesn’t worth reading then. I use this solution for years already and I’m pretty happy with it.

  67. sigmaalgebra

    Suppose for the ads on a Web page, the Web server sends links to the ads not to an ad server but just back to a file of the domain name of the Web server. Then to a Web browser, the image for the ad should look just like any image, e.g., the Web site logo image, and not like an ad. Right?That is, how does an ad blocker work? It blocks any content not from the domain name of the Web page? It blocks any content from the domain names of any of the well known ad servers?So, then, just have the Web site send the ads. Right? Wrong?

  68. Lynn

    I use Pandora but never use its ad-free version;-) So it’s a big surprise for me to see 49%(use ad blocker) as compared to 44%(no ad blocker).

  69. Tri Huynh

    Very great post. This is also the reason I built Publishers need to provide multiple choices to their adblock visitors, and let them decide how they want to compensate for the content they want.

  70. EJ

    Google contributor network let’s you block their ads while contributing to the publishers you visit. Nice system and it does cut down on a large number of ads.

  71. Donna Brewington White

    So is it a joke that there is a sponsored ad at the top of the comments section?With better behavioral targeting and programmatic bidding resulting in more relevant ads, I actually appreciate ads as a source of information. But because I do a lot of online research, I am chased down by ads that have little relevance to my needs — such as, a certain maternity item and the engagement ring shown in the sponsored ad above (maybe because I just took on a jewelry client wanting to move into ecommerce). Although the ring shown is actually rather nice.

  72. Dorian Benkoil

    Ad blockers on mobile are mainly about the experience, not the ads. Ie, if the ads are seamless, and don’t hog processor power, etc — something Google AMP is trying to help solve, apparently — fewer ad blockers will be installed. So it’s about better integrating and initiating the revenue model, I’d say.

  73. Doc Searls

    I experiment with every ad and tracking blocker I can. For more on why, see

  74. Drew Meyers

    I would pay for both fb and twitter if they dropped all their ads and user data sales