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Use of Ad-Blocking Software Rises by 30% Worldwide (nytimes.com)
274 points by t23 on Feb 3, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 321 comments



In the present society, the advertisers managed to completely ruin the way cities look with their endless flashing neon signs (and in the past few years I've noticed a vast increase in audio-based advertisements outside), they have ruined the best observation spots, skylines, and in many cases, even parks with their billboards; the public TV which is funded by tax money is a complete ad-cancer. The same with radio, or sports games. It got me to the point where I consciously block every advertisement, but it sometimes gets really mentally taxing. I've stopped listening to radio, watching TV or basically going to any larger-scale public outing.

I am not giving them the internet too!

They can take their unwritten pact and starve.

The worst offenders however, are the ones that require a payment to use, and still completely overwhelm you with the ads (Public transport in my case). I do subscribe to some services where the subscription removes ads, and I gladly pay for mobile applications that offer a reasonable (<10$) cost to ad-free experience. However, I have observed the overwhelming majority of content to be completely worthless, and I do not lose anything by not coming back.


Well said. I have nothing but contempt and loathing for the advertising industry. I think they ruin everything. I also quit watching and listening to commercial broadcasters, and even quit working for one.

I have a sister who is a successful advertising creative and executive. Our wildly differing and strong opinions on the topic makes for interesting family dinners.

I am longing for the day that AR technology gets to the stage where lightweight sun-glass frames can have the ability to overlay classical art, or any other texture, over real-world ads in real-time.

I have also been wondering lately if some sort of Adnix [0] like device could be developed using the incredible machine learning software that is becoming widely available. I know very little about such things but I have been meaning to make time to see if it is within my abilities.

I'd love to scare my sister with it.

[0] Adnix - http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=2223


>> I am longing for the day that AR technology gets to the stage where lightweight sun-glass frames can have the ability to overlay classical art, or any other texture, over real-world ads in real-time.

Don't hold your breath. The disgusting industry of marketing/advertising will happily pay the AR companies irrefusable sums of cash to have their firmware prevent you from overlaying their ads. Or worse, the ads will be projected directly onto your lenses without even needing to look at the real world. Walled garden AR will win out over any open-source equivalent, as the money involved will monopolize the industry with patented technology. Never underestimate their scummy practices; our obsession with capitalism has made this the status quo even before television ever hit us. Hell, newspapers and public posters were already pulling this crap in the 1800's. This has been our reality since the invention of the word "corporation".

Personally, I wish that any business that must advertise to even be viable should not exist. Unfortunately, every business owner who wants a piece of the pie disagrees and will do everything possible to force themselves onto us. Yes, force - it's tantamount to rape in my opinion. Unsolicited, unwanted, unwarranted, and inescapable - were any "person" to shove themselves at you like companies do, it would be considered rape. For example, "retargeting" is literally stalking you everywhere you go. How it is considered acceptable is beyond me.


> Yes, force - it's tantamount to rape in my opinion.

No wonder you and your sister don't get along. This is completely ridiculous.


You are incorrectly replying. I don't think he mentioned his sister. That was my anecdote.

I don't think advertising is tantamount to rape.

Rape IMO, is one of the most heinous crimes a human can perpetrate on another.

But I do think the advertising industry is already well over-the-line that I am comfortable with. The insane fact that we let advertisers track us and keep files on us should make anyone nervous.


> Walled garden AR will win out over any open-source equivalent, as the money involved will monopolize the industry with patented technology.

why? FOSS seems to be doing fairly well across the Internet at the moment.


Not quite small and light weight but: http://jonathandub.in/cognizance/

Also if you would like your phone to replace them with art: http://noad-app.com


What do you think about the fact that the website you linked as a reference is ad-supported? Assuming that you use an ad-blocker, have you contributed money directly to the web site in compensation?

It seems that you got some value from the web site. Is this consistent with "advertising ruins everything"?

Without ads, do you think the web site would exist at all?


> Without ads, do you think the web site would exist at all?

Quite likely. This kind of content is something people tend to maintain out of their own interest in the subject and willingness to share. Ads are added more like as a "why not?" thing.

Anyway, there are many ways to monetize that don't involve asking third parties to shove shit at your visitors.


Maybe not, but it was the first result of many when I searched for "Adnix". It's not their content either. I did not compensate the site, and I don't feel bad about that at all.

I did, however, pay Carl Sagan for it many years ago, when he first published Contact.


Plenty of quality sites existed before advertisement flooded the internet. Plenty can exist without advertisements now as well.


> The worst offenders however, are the ones that require a payment to use, and still completely overwhelm you with the ads (Public transport in my case)

I'm with you on the concept, but public transit is just about the most wrong example you can come up with.

Every system that I'm aware of either loses money directly, or would do so if they lost government subsidies. Advertising revenue isn't something that any of them can do without.

You may be able to afford to pay a rate that would obviate the need to rely on advertising, but those who most depend on it could not


True, the Indian media channels show 60% ads and the same recycled "news" for 40% times. At times they show five minute news and 55 minute adverts, I'm serious, I've seen this happen!


I totally agree.

However, it's worth bearing in mind that the end game of ad blocking isn't an Internet without adverts.

It's an Internet of product placement and "sponsored content".


If everyone allowed normal ads through, advertisers wouldn't sit back and say "Well done everyone. Time for us to stop doing sponsored stories! Back to the old model!". They'd still be attacking on two fronts. Ad-blocking just prevents one avenue of attack.


The U.S. digital ad industry is about 140 billion usd. There are about 200 million working age people to divide that over. That means 700 usd per working age person. Granted, there are many factors that you could use to tweak these numbers up or down (international influence, ad spend roi, ad company margin, wage distribution, ...), but it serves as a ballpark figure.

To get rid of online ads would therefore require either everyone paying something on the order of 700 usd per year, or a lot less ad-funded content.


Presumably everyone is already paying on the order of 700 USD per year, since the money has to come from somewhere and most of it will come out of the sales of the advertised products


> a lot less ad-funded content.

I've never understood why this is always seen as such a bad thing. It worked well before, it works well now, and it can work well in the future. I'd even argue that most sites were better before advertisement-based funding became common.


I'm thankful that the UK is pretty strict in regards to advertising in the UK and we don't have as many signs ruining everything.


Cities look increasingly like Blade Runner LA.


Blade Runner LA was quite a bit worse, with giant airships floating around blasting audio.

No wonder everyone went to the offworld colonies.


I wonder why that doesn't happen today. It's technically accessible. I've seen a blimp with a banner in the past once. No audio. What stops ad people from jumping at this medium?


It's probably against the law to annoy residents with audio ads from blimps and for a good reason.

I bet rednecks would shoot their rifles at would be audio ad blimps passing over their property without thinking twice - like they do now with drones. And I don't blame them, because I'd do the same any day.


I'd buy a rifle for that reason myself. Or revive my high-school hobby of building solid fuel rocket engines. I'm just curious what stops ad blimps from appearing in big cities.


I'm pretty sure the audio would fall afoul of noise ordinances. If not, you'd probably hear it from strip malls.

I suspect what stops us from seeing more blimps is cost. They're expensive to operate, and billboards are cheap.


Most of us are employed producing goods and services for which people are not born with an innate desire.

Approximately the only people who can bash advertising without hypocrisy are subsistence farmers. The rest of us are paid to satisfy artificially inseminated needs. Perhaps our specific industries and employers use classier, higher-quality, and more subtle forms of advertisement, but in a truly ad-free world, we'd not spend money on anything but staying fed, warm, and reproductive.


The guys who spent money building on, say, the Colossus of Rhodos, on the development of scientific instruments and the pursuit of science itself, and generally, in every aspect of science and culture would beg to differ.

Besides, nobody is bashing advertising because it's advertising things. We're bashing that advertising activity that's based on lies and deceit -- you know, like the flashing neon signs that invite you to buy this pill that's gonna make you beautiful like the other girls and it's basically half a gram of sugar mixed with ten grams of Matcha tea, and the sort of dubious activity that it mixes up in this scheme, like user tracking and outright malware (remember Forbes' blunder?). And I'm not even going to get into the part where it advertises stuff like cigarettes (and I'm a smoker, I'd just rather not see this vice being frickin' advertised!). I have every intention to keep bashing this shitty industry until it grows a spine.


Apparently history counts for nothing. If you are trying to claim the entirety of the human experience as some kind of living advertisement you have one hell of a claim to prove. Entire cultures lived and died before the first word was ever even writen. They sang, they made language, they created art, all without even thinking about the concept of money. Advertisement, as is being discussed, is relatively new, and to try to muddle the discussion by positioning it as the cornerstone of civilization is to miss entirely the point.


If you believe the human experience before modern technology and economics was good enough, why aren't you living it? What in the world are you doing on a computer?

Yes, many people lived and died in an era when there was no time for economic activity beyond extracting dinner from local fauna or the land. The process by which they first learned about and acquired farm implements, giving them the time to do other things, is called advertising.


Nonsense. All you said is nonsense.

> If you believe the human experience before modern technology and economics was good enough

No rational person can take what I originally said and twist it to sound like this.

> Yes, many people lived and died in an era when there was no time for economic activity beyond extracting dinner from local fauna or the land.

Learn history. Art is older, if not as old as agriculture.

> The process by which they first learned about and acquired farm implements, giving them the time to do other things, is called advertising.

Farm implements first had to be invented. They first invented them.

Everyone on this thread knows what is meant when the word Advertisement is used. It is not even close to what you are proposing.


Ironically, there's really good evidence to suggest humans only worked an hour or two a day to feed themselves before the advent of civilization.


I'm curious what led you to such conclusions. That depiction does not match how I view the world at all.

Just because an item doesn't prevent one from starving or freezing to death does not mean it is an "artificially inseminated need".

Sure, GDP might drop 10% in the short-term if all advertising was banished. Who knows. What I do know is that people won't stop wanting things that make their life better, and in general will continue to buy such things.

Advertising is not what keeps us from a peasant lifestyle.


I don't buy for a second that the end of advertising would harm GDP. It would take generations of cultural turnover to move people away from consumerism. If people were not being psychologically manipulated into buying certain products they don't need or want, they will just buy what they want instead.


How will people know where or how to buy what they want without advertising?


How do people know where to find/make the things they do have an innate need for without advertisement as you seem to define it?


Advertising does not equal flow of information.


Sure it does. Advertising is the flow of information about what products and services are available, how much they cost, and where to purchase them. Some are crass, some are subtle, some are sprayed, some are targeted, and the very best (personal recommendations and such) aren't even paid for. They are all advertisements.


The way your post comes across, given the context: "It's impossible to learn about things in the world that one might pay money for without advertising"

Is this what you actually mean? Because that's an absurd statement. Unless you dilute the meaning of the word "advertising" such that it covers literally every human action. But then we aren't having a useful conversation anymore.

You're aware that a small number of years ago, in the scope of human civilization, most objects were not branded, billboards didn't exist, etc?


> people won't stop wanting things that make their life better, and in general will continue to buy such things.

This is nonsensical.

You can only buy something if you know that it exists for sale and where.

The process by which you acquire this information is, by definition, advertising.


I wanted a Bluetooth speaker. I sought out non-paid reviews by third parties (some of the being fellow consumers who had already bought the device), and then decided which speaker I thought would work best for me. I didn't make use of advertising in the process.


How did you know you wanted a Bluetooth speaker, or that such a thing exists?

In your specific case it's possible that you knew what speakers are, and you knew what Bluetooth is, and you extrapolated from there that the combination might exist and you went looking for one (carefully avoiding paid reviews in the process).

But it's also possible that you saw a post on techcrunch or HN years ago when Bluetooth speakers were first being developed that seeded the concept in your mind. Something changed between then and now such that you recently wanted to buy one, and that kicked off your ad-free research and purchasing process. Are you positive that no ads were involved in that original, long-past inception of the concept "Bluetooth speaker" in your mind? Or maybe one of those fellow consumers whose reviews you recently read originally bought their speaker because of an ad they saw.

If I make a better mousetrap, but then tell no one and never leave my farm, will the world beat a path to my door?

I think you might argue that there is a distinction between word of mouth flow of information and advertising, but the devil is in the details. Is publishing a peer-reviewed paper advertising? Is updating a blog about your project advertising? Is posting a limited number of access codes on a forum you don't own to a service you are launching advertising? Is cold calling advertising? Is sending unsolicited emails advertising?

What makes advertising advertising, and how is it different from telling people about this thing you made that they don't know about but might add value to their lives? I don't know, but I suspect it has something to do with fuzzy concepts like social capital.


You are forgetting some really simple cases like:

1) My friend has one

2) I saw one at a party or work function

3) I was at the store a while back, browsing around (of my own volition), and learned about them

I could go on, but you get the idea. There are very many ways to learn about new things other than overt advertising. If we are being lenient, it's actually not too different from asking "how does culture spread and evolve?" Humans have been doing this stuff for thousands of years.

To address the second half of your post, I do agree 100% that it's impossible and unreasonable to draw a really hard line against all advertising. But I think we can certainly do way, way better than we do now.


>1) My friend has one

Having your product out in the world with a brand name on it is a form of advertising, and it works really well because people don't recognize it as such.

Some people do recognize it, which is why they'll do stuff like de-badge their cars, to avoid being an agent of the "my friend has one" or "I saw one" form of advertising. My grandparents found this terrifyingly insidious and tried to be cognizant of and reject it whenever possible. Now we all wear logos without a second thought.

>3) I was at the store a while back, browsing around (of my own volition), and learned about them

Manufacturers jockey with retailers for prominent shelf space (or shelf space at all) as part of their advertising efforts.

Similarly, a storefront with signage in a heavily (foot) trafficked area is one of the most expensive (per impression) ad placements that money can buy.


> Having your product out in the world with a brand name on it is a form of advertising

I didn't say the product had a branded logo on it. Many products do these days, but not all.

It's not hard to imagine a world where logos aren't everywhere. Even today, I don't buy clothing with prominent logos.

You are completely missing my broader point here. Advertising is a small, superficial part of culture. People have participated in culture for thousands of years, acquiring items and ways of doing things. They don't need advertising to do this.


> How did you know you wanted a Bluetooth speaker, or that such a thing exists?

Because I want a speaker and my phone supports Bluetooth.

> you knew what speakers are, and you knew what Bluetooth is

Umm, yeah. And if I didn't know what Bluetooth was I'd still know I wanted a speaker. The fact that my phone supports it - even if I didn't know what it was - would lead me to wanting a speaker that supported it.

> If I make a better mousetrap, but then tell no one and never leave my farm, will the world beat a path to my door?

The ads proclaiming best mousetrap ever, never are. So from my PoV all I lose by you not advertising is another rip-off.

Try renting the mousetraps with a "Purchase if we catch X mice per month" agreement. Prove their efficacy instead of spewing empty words.

> but the devil is in the details. Is [...] advertising?

An argument that there are shades of gray isn't a valid answer for the complaint that people enthusiastically push the boundaries of black-hat.

> What makes advertising advertising, [...]? I don't know, but I suspect it has something to do with fuzzy concepts like social capital.

The fact that someone pays to force it on you. Also, that the people writing the advertising would say anything for the sale, rather than being honest.


By using software to block digital advertising, critics say, users are breaking an unwritten pact with websites and digital publishers, many of which generate the bulk of their revenue from these ads.

...

In those regions, people’s efforts to block malware disguised as online advertising has been the main motivation for downloading ad blockers.

First, "critics say" a lot of things. And that "unwritten pact"? Yeah, you wanna know why it's unwritten? Because it doesn't exist. However, the second part that I quote undoes any kind of morality tale "critics" would like to spin. Users were apparently willing to tolerate a degree of advertising (which, BTW, is a loooong way from any kind of a pact), but after a point they'll turn the tap off if there are tools available to do so.


My go-to analogy is that you don't get to shit in the well and then try to convince me that buying bottled water is morally wrong.


I agree. On the other hand, advertisers need to make money to survive. This means there's a shift to native advertising in response, which means they're not just shitting in the water. They're shitting in everything else too, and trying to cover up the taste.

I don't know what the solution here is.


> On the other hand, advertisers need to make money to survive.

My job is to keep my systems secure. Other peoples' jobs are their business. Unless I signed a contract or gave them my word, I have no obligation towards them.

> This means there's a shift to native advertising in response, which means they're not just shitting in the water. They're shitting in everything else too, and trying to cover up the taste.

Easy solution: if they shit on everything, I avoid the entire plague-ridden, smelly, nuclear waste dump they created.

(Please understand I'm not saying this to stoke conflict. I'm just sharing how I think through the question of how advertisers survive.)


> On the other hand, advertisers need to make money to survive

Brutally honest here: I don't care if the advertisers survive. I do realize that at some level, a consumer has to be made aware of a product in order to purchase that product. The problem IMHO, there is too much advertising overall. I'd prefer more effort went into making quality products, than into manufacturing the need for more unnecessary products. Obviously, this is a pipe dream.


The solution is less advertisers, less tracking and less personal data mining. The solution is blocking ads until they stop, go out of business or adapt.


> On the other hand, advertisers need to make money to survive.

And thieves need to steal to survive.


stop shitting in the well?


That means that any advertising supported sites shut down.


Good!

The internet was great before advertising, and it'll be great after advertising.

"essentially all of the ad supported sites I visit are diversions" - https://utcc.utoronto.ca/~cks/space/blog/web/AdSupportedWebD...


So, cease existing?


Maybe! It's just an option that abusive advertising should not have started, and now that there's a fight back they complain. There's also the option that abusive advertising/malware is ruining it for benign advertising (if that exists). What is certain is that we won't get anywhere unless we stop pointing fingers and start working for a solution.

It is also a matter of preference I'd say (actually preference vs annoyance). I install adblock to everyone mainly for the malware+abusing; I wouldn't go to such lengths otherwise. AFAIK I did it with the default "allow non-intrusive ads" checked.


Yes. I know that sounds harsh, and I don't expect it to reach such an extreme. But at least in principle, offending people to the point where they disrupt your entire industry and you cease to exist, is one of the many risks faced by any business -- particularly in media and communications.


Exactly. One thing we often seem to forget is that no business has a right to exist indefinitely. When market conditions change, and your competition isn't doing anything obviously illegal, any damage done to your business is your own responsibility. Just because a business is suffering doesn't mean that anyone else needs to bail them out.

Car companies don't sue oil companies when high gas prices hurt SUV sales. It's part of the risk of doing business.


No, get another business model that is sustainable.


How much are you paying sites that aren't advertising supported right now?

How many more sites are you willing to pay at that same level?

Right now, as far as I can tell, advertising supported sites are out-competing sites that directly charge users, meaning that users prefer not to pay. That makes leaves advertising as the most sustainable model.


Some sites are involved in actual transactions that don't involve eyeballs and fractions of pennies these will be fine.

Simple sites designed to promote the spread of genuinely useful information can be designed to use microscopic resources and operate on little money these will be fine.

Some sites provide neat services people are willing to pay for these will be fine.

Some sites represent the online presence of organizations with significant budgets these will be fine.

Much of what remains isn't worth much and if no viable means of support can be found I guess they shouldn't exist.

Honestly 1/2 of the modern web could go away and not much would be lost.

It's only a crisis if your livelihood depends on making a bunch of crap nobody in their right mind would pay significant resources to support.


Ok. So, now you're talking about shutting down half the web.

Do you believe that's realistic?


Not who you are replying to, but I do!

What sites are so essential that we couldn't replace them?


Google is an example of an ad-supported site that would be rather hard to replace. And, apparently, they make a ridiculous amount of money per user, so replacing advertising revenue with user payments is going to be expensive -- they'd have to charge you $277 per month, if you believe this:

https://mondaynote.com/the-nytimes-could-be-worth-19bn-inste...


That would imply that I am rendering $277 worth of value to Google each month. I would happily receive that in cash and eschew all Google services, which I mostly try and do anyway for privacy reasons. Where do I sign?

Cuts both ways.


Well, the value you give google is the average probability of purchasing products.

I'm sure that if a large number of companies were able to cut $277 from your average aggregate monthly spending in exchange for a guarantee that you were buying their products, they'd be signing up. Perhaps some sort of subscription service that you couldn't opt out of. You can try doing that as a startup.


I would agree that Google search would be hard to replace, but I think it could be done, and probably done better. But one site is not worth keeping a crappy system in place, IMO.


Ok, so stop using ad supported sites, and convince everyone else to do the same, and the problem will simply go away.


If there are alternatives, I do.


A model out-competing another doesn't make it sustainable. Overfishing an area would make it out-compete another that doesn't, but that would be the exact opposite of sustainable.


What stops them from offering both?


Yep! If they are acting that badly.


Because sometimes an upvote isn't enough: Oh, man, that's awesome and I'm filing it away for later.


I didn't bother with adblockers until they started auto-playing videos with audio. Now I must block them. There are many circumstances when it is not appropriate for my computer to start blaring audio and I have to search where it is coming from. So if anyone broke the imaginary pact, it was publishers with auto-play.


Hmm, honestly, I've been using adblockers since the early 00's. It started in the form of flash blockers, since there were tons of ads that were flash back then.

As humanity progressed, this included various ad networks and other human beneficiary systems. Today, it's all about blocking the anti-ad blockers. :-\

I've been amazed over the years tho how some friends and colleagues let this crap through. My wife, for instance, using Yahoo mail would stupefy me on how she could concentrate on writing emails when there are banner and tower ads animating and annoyingly blinking on the periphery of their ui.

As a software developer/creator, having shit all over the screen going apeshit with animations and visually assaulting assets, was just to much for me from the beginning.


My sister is similar, she doesn't seem to mind the ads. My Dad knows this guy at work who likes the ads and wants Google to know more about him so they will give him better ads... There must be a decent proportion who don't mind for whatever reason.

I'm much more like you in my desire for no distractions so I can focus. But I would go a little further and say that I consider ads somewhat of an affront to my personal autonomy, and avoid them whenever it isn't too difficult.

I much prefer researching all the options myself, after I've decided to buy something, instead of continually being influenced to believe x, y, or z by profit hungry companies whose incentives are often not aligned with mine.


I like the very highly specialized ads, like from the Carbon network.


Yahoo mail. Good grief, I was supporting a customer over a webex yesterday, and the ad-area was ridiculous.

I suggested he download uBlock to Chrome, just so the flashing would go away. I don't know how people put up with it.


I don't use an ad-blocker (yet). But when the day comes that I do install one, it will be exactly this that drives me over the edge. As far as I'm concerned, the author(s) of any website who auto-play any audio content need to be shot, hung, drawn, quartered, tarred, feathered, and then burn in the lowest level of hell for all eternity.

I don't care about banner ads, re-targeting, etc., etc. But if you fucking hijack my speakers/headphones to play some random shit I don't want to hear, I hope you die a painful, slow, lingering death.


> As far as I'm concerned, the author(s) of any website who auto-play any audio content need to be shot, hung, drawn, quartered, tarred, feathered, and then burn in the lowest level of hell for all eternity.

There are worse things in this world.


+1 This.

I can deal with the annoying interstitial (as much as i hate it) but when videos pop up and start playing I draw the line. Its incredibly obnoxious when you just want to read a website. Also it slows down your computer too if you're low on ram...


+1 I disable the speakers on my computer most of the time, because I'm never sure what will come over them.


I even put up with that. I'd tolerate any amount of bleeping and flashing and blooping.

But when they janked the text I was reading out from under my eyes... It was Bugs Bunny, chewing that carrot, and telling Elmer Fudd "'dis means war".


Exactly, there is no pact here. If there was one we wouldn't have seen the rise in level of annoyances we had in the post 2k web. First it was the whack a monkey small banner, then bigger flashing banners covering all upper side of the page, then the page was shrunk and its sides were occupied by more advertising, ten came the popups followed by interstitials and other interrupting annoyances, articles split into 10 micro pages just to force the user to keep clicking, etc. Do I need to continue? Nope, that is not a pact, it's publishers using every tool at their disposal to put as much advertising as possible between the users eyes and the content, which to me makes perfectly fine doing the opposite now that the available tools have turned the table.


>By serving ads laden with malware, critics say, websites and digital publishers are breaking an unwritten pact with users, many of which are turning to ad blockers to protect themselves.

If they want to pretend this unwritten contract exists (I don't think it does) then they need to uphold their part of the deal: don't infect users with malware.


I've been surfing the web – and sometimes its corners the Pope wouldn't approve – for 20 years, mostly without ad blockers and always without antivirus. To my knowledge, I've never been infected by malware.

In regards to the "invisible pact": I believe publishers would find more success by framing it in terms of the users' self-interest: Considering everything that's going on, do you believe the world would be a better place without The Wall Street Journal, NYT, Guardian, Bloomberg, Wired etc? Or even – for people prone to sudden exclamations of "CNN IS FAKE NEWS!", without Breitbart, Drudge, and The Intercept? If you cut out every publisher currently set up as a revenue-based organisation – would you be well informed? Is there some non-professional blogger(s) who could have served as a primary source for all the news of the last week?


I use BBC and PBS so for most news which is not advertising supported and IMO by far the best option for global news.

PS: You have probably been part of several botnets, modern malware does not try and break your system.


>modern malware does not try and break your system.

Unfortunately, malware has shifted back into breaking systems, under the form of ransomware.


I would not count on PBS for much longer under this administration.


> To my knowledge, I've never been infected by malware.

Congratulations; may your lucky streak continue.

> I believe publishers would find more success by framing it in terms of the users' self-interest: Considering everything that's going on, do you believe the world would be a better place without The Wall Street Journal, NYT, Guardian, Bloomberg, Wired etc?

Aren't they attempting to solve that problem by charging for access outright, instead of just begging their users to look at banner ads?


For me personally, it's not the malware. It's the "other things you might like" sections with obnoxious pictures and click bait headlines. The jiggling fat belly. The ads that follow me for months after I buy something trying to get me to buy another, especially for things I only need one of and don't expect to buy again.

However, for my family, it is mostly the malware. Especially misleading download button ads. To be fair, I'm not entirely sure it's the ad blocking, but there's been a noticeable drop in tech support calls from my parents since I installed it for them.


This assumes you can have good quality news with this invisible pact.

I disagree with that. The invisible pact turns media into a clickbait factory.


Funny you mention NYT [0] and The Guardian [1]. It also happened to Forbes [2] and other sites in the past, such as Yahoo. It has a name [3] because it's more common than it should be.

>If you cut out every publisher currently set up as a revenue-based organisation – would you be well informed?

I don't believe these publishers accurately inform people most of the time (from either politically biased side). They give an illusion of "being informed" but are you really informed if you only know half the story with countless important details left out for brevity or because the situation is simply too complicated? How accurately do you think any of the places you mentioned cover what is happening in Syria? How many people do you think are actually "informed" about what is going on? Do you think most people are even capable of understanding what is going on from a few sound bytes or even segments on the news?

>Is there some non-professional blogger(s) who could have served as a primary source for all the news of the last week?

Yes actually, there are. They're just much harder to find. Most news worth knowing comes from a primary source (eg: Snowden) and while media may serve as a microphone to raise awareness - they aren't inventing news. They're sourcing news and hopefully verifying those sources for authenticity. Nowadays, they seem to have a vetting problem and most of their sources are users on Twitter.

When the media covers a huge event - they have people who (should) be knowledgeable on the topic discuss the topic. From my experiences, these "professionals" are rarely well informed on the topic and just have a degree in the relevant field and happen to be a contact source for the media body. "Hey, we need a doctor. Find a doctor on our contacts who is willing to speak. I don't care if he's a surgeon and this is neuroscience! Doctor is a doctor!" sort of thing. The worst of the media bodies have their news anchors speak on the topics.

I honestly think people would be better informed on topics without mass-media. Because a lack of knowledge, at this point, is often better than pre-existing but incorrect knowledge. Because then they think they are informed when they actually aren't. I think that's more harmful.

About your lack of malware - good malware goes undetected. If you've connected to the internet at all, I can nearly guarantee you're part of a botnet at this point. I'm probably part of a botnet at this point and I take steps to protect myself.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/16/major-sit...

[1] http://www.zdnet.com/article/guardian-article-on-cybercrime-...

[2] https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160111/05574633295/forbe...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvertising


If you cut out every publisher currently set up as a revenue-based organisation – would you be well informed?

I don't know if I would be, heck I don't know if I am now. But if 99% of them were cut out, I would still be suffering from information overload, there's just so much of it to indulge in. Seriously: all the press you mentioned could go away and my life wouldn't suffer for it (I hardly read them anyway). Meanwhile, I'm still forced to pay a special tax to fund my state's 500-million-eur-a-year BBC-wannabe news/entertainment/propaganda machine. And I hardly ever read them.


So I'm assuming you consider democracy to be useless? As in: the current system of government of, say, Denmark or Ireland is no better than that of Tadzhikistan or Cuba?

Because I don't see how a democracy could work without the media. Even a low-information voter like you profits (in my view) from a vibrant and free press by the decisions of more informed people in the voting booth.


> So I'm assuming you consider democracy to be useless? ... Because I don't see how a democracy could work without the media.

If I understand correctly, you are saying "the media" is vital for democracy, so anyone who considers "the media" useless must also consider democracy to be useless.

However, the GP does not say all media is useless. He is saying there is more information than he can possibly consume even if most media outlets go away, and that the media outlets specifically mentioned by the GGP aren't of value to him.

Democracy worked in the United States (even surviving the Civil War) without "the media". "The media" as we know it has only existed since the late 1800s and it was first used to influence the American public toward war with Spain (funny that you mentioned Cuba).

I do agree that a healthy, functioning democracy requires the free flow of information, but that's a different concept which does not, necessarily, require "the media" as it exists now.

> Even a low-information voter like you

His post suggests he receives more information than he feels he can even handle. He simply isn't reading outlets that the GGP considers vital or necessary. If he's selective about his outlets, that may even increase the amount of useful information he uses to inform his vote.

> from a vibrant and free press

I am unconvinced this describes the modern media. Many of the incentives are misaligned, profit being the largest one. It describes, perhaps, some subset of the media.

> by the decisions of more informed people in the voting booth.

Are they 'more informed' though? I know plenty of people who consume "the media" all day long, and they are very misinformed.


When you already assume "The Media" (which is a really broad stroke I'd say) is constantly manipulating the truth and pushing an agenda it seems we are already in that state to begin with.


People believe that because "The Media" has been shown to be manipulating the truth constantly. If it walks, talks, and acts like a duck. People will call it a duck.

It's an assumption, but it is a safe assumption when they have a history of doing it constantly.


I honestly don't think there're many people who is "willing to tolerate a degree of advertising" even though a lot of people say so.

Enable ad blocker is sooooooooo easy compare to watching even "good" ads. A well made, non-distubing, interesting ad will become boring after you see it couple more times. In addition, non of the "ad or subscription" websites ever worked to my knowledge since install ad blocker is easy and take the benefits from both side. One of my friend made an ios game that asked only $0.99 to remove all ads. Yet according to him, only 1/10000 user actually paid.


Depends. How annoying are the ads on Google Search. Yes, I know this is HN, so annoyance levels go to 11, but most people wouldn't go searching out for a blocker if all adds were not overly obtrusive.


They're incredibly annoying. I have a 1080p screen. The entire first page of results on every search is ads. I've stopped using google.com because of this.


Factually, I don't see how that is possible.

https://www.google.com/search?q=cats

How much of your screen is ads?


Thanks for calling me a liar. Nice talking to you.


PgDn

One click fixed


Or I could just use a search provider that doesn't require a "one click fix" literally every single time I use their primary service? What's your point?


My point, as I said originally, is that those ads are minimally obtrusive compared to other ads.

Most people (present company excluded of course) would not seek out an ad blocker for something so minor as PgDn.


Neither did I. I just switched search providers. Which I already said.

I'm not sure how you can get more obtrusive than "entire default screen of main product replaced with ads."

I'm sure you have apologetics on the matter, carefully constructed while you were surveying "most people" on how they'd react to the Page Down key.


Ad blockers should be a standard part of the browser, just like it is in Opera and maybe Safari. Just like the popup blocker was a standard addition in the 2000s.

I also use a DNS based filter in addition to ad blockers. Gotta love centralised ad networks - you block some hostnames and you get rid of 80% of junk automagically. The rest is the ad blocker's business.


>will become boring after you see it couple more times

The only websites left in my whitelist are those that only have static image banners.


Those ads are just ignored overtime. But I'm talking about things like a big budget well made video ads about your favorite car/brands etc before every youtube video you're going to watch in the next week.


"Unwritten pact" is a overly sensational but I do think they have a point.

Many publishers are entirely, or mostly ad supported. Their expectation is that when you read their content you also glance at the ads. If they can't make money off the ads they can't afford to produce the content anymore. (or more likely try different monetization approaches)

This sounds like some sort of deal to me. And the impact of breaking it is apparent to anyone who thinks about it for more then a couple of seconds.

That being said I find that many sites have obnoxious ads (or other content) and I simply hit back if it is too much. (and I consider my tolerance quite low) The content simply wasn't worth that much to me, and I can likely find equal or better content without the shit surrounding it.

Ad blockers are blunt instruments. They generally affect all sites and whitelisting is rare and based on the good part of the site, not how awful the ads are. This seems like the wrong motivators for publishers. The "turn away" approach directly penalizes sites that are unpleasant.


> Many publishers are entirely, or mostly ad supported. Their expectation is that when you read their content you also glance at the ads.

I'd say it's a false expectation. Businesses only succeed within the culture that supports them. If the culture doesn't value the business model then the business will fail or, as you say, it will adopt another model.

We live, I think, in an age of advertising pollution. If the culture of web users is intolerant of advertising then advertising supported businesses will fail. I don't see this as being either good or bad. The business model either works or it doesn't, and no business should expect their particular model to work.


It's funny though, the ad blocker blockers that they have now actually just make me close the browser tab and go on to something else.

I've realized how little value the vast majority of these sites actually offer. In fact, they actually cost me more in time and productivity than anything and I gain very little.

There are plenty of services I pay for. But it probably won't be an internet news site.


I've found myself doing the same thing. I am not changing my configuration for your website to get past a nag screen. If it doesn't work, I'll go somewhere else. There are very few pieces of information on the Internet that are exclusive to one source.

On the other hand, do an exemplary job, and I'll seriously consider donating or buying merchandise. I've chipped money to Wikipedia, Reddit, and LWN, as well as Debian, the FSF and the EFF. Not everything needs to be for profit, and not every website is entitled to making money. If the work you do is important enough, it will find a way.


Yep. Either closing the tab, or opening the browser console and spite hacking until I can see the content.


IMO it's the same misalignment of incentives that plagues our healthcare system, where different actors make decisions and then someone else gets the feedback.

The newspaper doesn't necessarily know how bad the ads get for users, the users don't know what the financial stress is on the newspaper, and the advertising network doesn't have to care about either of them beyond squeezing the most water from a stone.


I think there was an unwritten pact, but I think it was broken by serving malware, pop-ups, autoplaying videos, etc. long before adblockers became popular.

Whining about how consumers don't uphold their end of a pact that advertisers willfully broke is just delusional.


There are often 4 parties involved in online advertising.

- Those pushing a product whom have a deal with advertisers.

- The advertisers who have a deal with both the companies selling products and web pages selling space for ads.

- Web pages which have a deal with advertisers.

- Users who have little obligations to anyone and less loyalty.

Advertisers, web pages, and sellers have confused the fact that their business model depends on someone who is not only disinterested in their arrangement but actively hostile to it with an unwritten pact. This is especially surprising when it becomes clear that their acts and ends are ultimately hostile to the user.

Its not only unwritten its wholly and entirely imaginary. Adapt or die the current state of the web and the crap on it is ultimately going to end with 70-90% of users using adblock.


Yeah, I not only have to install ublock origin, but reek's anti-adblock killer so they don't turn it off on the machines of friends and family just to prevent the constant stream of malware infections that otherwise happen.

Eugh.


Never heard of the anti-adblock thing before. That's nice to be aware of.


Soon: anti-anti-adblock killer.



There's also a unwritten pact that companies should pay for my attention. How many times that pact has been broken when unwanted ads popped up?


"Users were apparently willing to tolerate a degree of advertising (which, BTW, is a loooong way from any kind of a pact), but after a point they'll turn the tap off if there are tools available to do so."

The issue is that it's no longer in the hands of the users. It's in the hands of the creators of the Adblock software. They decide what is actually displayed and they even have a white list where a company can pay to get onto it.

This will backfire on the people rejoicing, however. Instead of advertisements on sites, we will see entire advertisements disguised as actual content (which can't be blocked).

Real journalism costs money. Plain and simple. When you take that out of the equation (because Adblock has destroyed many revenue streams), you get articles written on speculation that can be done from the comfort of an office chair.

Online advertisements are one of the only ways a person without a big company can actually make a living. I've never really understood this massive push against it from Hacker news, which is supposed to be about startups and the startup community.

I guess an actual path to profitability is never factored into the equation.


> This will backfire on the people rejoicing, however. Instead of advertisements on sites, we will see entire advertisements disguised as actual content (which can't be blocked).

If everyone allowed normal ads through, advertisers wouldn't sit back and say "Well done everyone. Time for us to stop doing sponsored stories! Back to the old model!". They'd still be attacking on two fronts. Ad-blocking just prevents one avenue of attack.

> Online advertisements are one of the only ways a person without a big company can actually make a living.

So? We let people who have shitty business models fail all the time. Why don't they take one of the other methods for making a living?


When the user adblock percentage of our website hit 30%, we decided to try out anti-adblock solutions.

We worked with a company that used various tricks to get around the adblock protection, and then serve ads. This was a great success, at first. Eventually our users started notifying adblock[1], and adblock included rules to block the new ads on our site. Then we contacted our vendor, who gave us a software update to circumvent the new adblock rules.

This went on, until adblock enabled the nuclear option and blocked all ajax requests on our site. This effectively broke our site for anyone using adblock. So we caved in, took out the software, and begged for mercy from adblock. The rule was taken out, and we are back to losing 30% of our ad revenue.

I should mention that we've tried the usual stuff -- subscription service to remove ads. Asking our users nicely to add our site to their whitelist, etc. Both of these have had minuscule impact.

[1] When I say "adblock did X", I really mean the caretakers of the "rule lists", which the various adblocking engines use in their browser extensions.


I should mention that we've tried the usual stuff -- subscription service to remove ads. Asking our users nicely to add our site to their whitelist, etc. Both of these have had minuscule impact.

There was a time that might have worked. It would have worked with me, anyway. A time when others were using ad blockers, but I had an attitude of "meh, they gotta pay the bills". I might pay a little money to turn off the ads, and were I to use an ad blocker I might whitelist a site or two.

But a threshold was crossed. I can't tell you what that threshold looks like, or name any particular event that set me off. Maybe it's the malware, maybe it's the jiggling belly fat ads, auto-play videos, I dunno. But at some point I said "enough", and I quit giving a shit about anything to do with that industry. The well has been so poisoned that I don't care about finding an antidote anymore. In general, I don't care if websites go under. The poisoned well metaphor breaks down in that I can't do without water, but I can sure as hell do without most of the ad-laden websites out there. I'll miss them, but not enough to be bothered to expend even the minimal effort to whitelist as site.

I don't want to be that person. I want to be empathetic to at least the small content producers just trying to scrape a few bucks. But I've been worn down, and not in the way the advertising industry wished I had been worn down. No, I'm worn down such that it's just easier to run an ad blocker and quit caring. And it's unfortunate that companies like yours get caught in all of it.


Bing-fucking-go.

Until advertisers understand and embrace this, the people that use adblockers will never relent. There is one, let me repeat, one website that I disable adblocking on: reddit.com. I've never been abused by them, and I don't regret that choice. Every other time I've temporarily relented, I immediately regretted it and blocked them again.


stackoverflow.com is whitelisted - I lilke the ads


What a novel idea - making the ads actually relevant to my interests. Instead of just making guesses based on browsing habits.


I blocked ads on pc after getting infected.

I blocked ads on mobile devices when they started buzzing my phone, sending me the the play store, giving me popups, etc.

now I block everything on all my devices using pi-hole


I find Firefox's Reader View to be an acceptable compromise.

The site gets a chance to impress me with its "engaging marketing experiences" but when I want to read a longer piece I switch to Reader View and all the CPU hogging madness stops.

Obviously, that doesn't protect me against malware, but I have never suffered a successful malware attack so far in spite of using the web basically 16 hours a day.


so you're saying you're ok with feeding your brain ads 16 hours a day?


Like most things in life it's a compromise. I'm not happy with it but considering alternatives such as actually proving my identity via payment and losing all anonymity with absolute certainty, I can accept it for the time being. Grudgingly.


I can tell you exactly when the threshold was crossed for me. I'm pretty removed from the tech industry but many of my friends are in tech so I try to keep up. One day, I was searching for a photo of a jacket that I wanted to sell on eBay. Google images led me to a site called Tradesy which had a stock photo of the jacket. I clicked on it, it led me to an unrelated photo, so I clicked out of it. Immediately, I received an email in my personal/professional email box (not the email I use for website registration/spam/etc) inviting me to use Tradesy. To this day I have no idea how Tradesy or Criteo (who sent the email) got my personal email address from the simple act of my browsing to one page. An email I never enter anywhere, EVER. The violation I felt was so intense, I installed an additional ad blocker and blocked Tradesy. I have no idea if that helped but that was my moment.


One place where I think ads are incentivised to be good is the starting ads on YouTube videos which have the "Skip" button. Once that button appears, if the ad is interesting enough, I keep on watching it. That means they have to work to make me want to see it. Jiggling belly fat won't do.

I also sometimes get email spam ads from a forum I use. But the advertisers buy access to the mailout directly from the forum owners and the forum owners personally screen them to make sure they're relevant to their audience.

There are cases that still exist which sound like your former experience. They're not horrible, just inconvenient.


The threshold were nice sites asking to be whitelisted that were using either malicious advertising services OR injecting so much crap that their site became intolerably slow (both from cpu and ram bloat) when using my atom based fanless systems.


I'll gladly whitelist things that are obviously small-time labor-of-love efforts that only have ads to help with hosting costs (also Project Wonderful).


Isn't that just taking from the system without contributing anything back? Doesn't sound like anything to be proud of.


The system doesn't have to provide them with anything. They request something from the system and it gives them something back. What is to be ashamed of about that?


>The rule was taken out, and we are back to losing 30% of our ad revenue.

That sentence shows a worrying level of entitlement. If you feel your website represents a simple content-for-ads purchase, and you feel that people are stealing from you, if the ad revenue is something you /deserve/, and you feel that 100% of visitors should see ads 100% of the time, then block everyone running an ad blocker from seeing anything[e1]. That's easy to do.

If you're not willing to lock "non payers" out, then you're offering a free service with a donation policy, and complaining that not enough people donate. Well I'm sorry, but they aren't required to. If you don't wanna be a donation based company, then don't be.

I grant you that looking at the before and after on your balance sheet may hurt, but that's not "losing 30% of your ad revenue" because that revenue is not owed to you, due to the nature of the business model that you chose. What it really represents is a potential 30% growth area, made up of people who's requirements have recently changed, and who now need a different strategy to capture. I don't know what to tell you man, markets change all the time. This is business.

[e1] or, as someone else pointed out, just leave the website broken for the "freeloaders" and don't worry about it


I really think that the tech world needs a better solution for advertising. The state of things over the last 20 years has been disappointing at best. It continues to grow in the wrong direction.

When I go to a website, I don't want 6 separate companies doing their best to identify me, tracking my activity, and doing their best to predict what I might actually spend money on so they can get a piece of it.

When I build a website - if I put ads up, I'm handing data about my work product off to people I don't know for what use I have no idea. Is someone going to use that data to build a competitive product? Is someone going to abuse the goodwill I build to my end users? Is the ad platform safe or am I putting my end users at risk? These shouldn't be questions. These should be answered by default by every company that would want to spend money advertising to my end users.

The ads are ineffective, the revenue is terrible unless you are a very popular site, and the questions about the data we are exposing are plentiful.

And yet everyone with a blog about Wednesday night prime time TV is clamoring to put ads up in hopes that it might generate them $100 over the course of a year.

We can do better.

The solution isn't stopping ad-blockers or getting around ad-blockers. The solution is to come up with better ways to generate the same revenue.

Google innovated and now look at them. Where would they be without AdWords? Why isn't anyone else truly innovating? Why do all of the ad tech companies look like clones of one another?


Maybe it isn't a tech problem or a lack of innovation but an uncomfortable conversation we need to have with "content creators" who think their blog post about last nights episode of "The Bachelor" is deserving of $100.


Some of the publishing techniques of the past century have created an anomalous centralization of wealth due to low carrying capacity, and it's badly inflated societies concept of the value of creative work.

This is most obvious in music. Pre-recording, a career as a musician was a viable but humble one. Your art had a range of perhaps 250km max, and you'd entertain at pubs, gigs and events in that area. You didn't make a lot of money.

Recording replaced a lot of that. Instead of hiring live musicians for their weddings, people chose recordings known to be good. Pubs installed juke boxes with more choice than one musician could ever hope to offer.

However, the carrying capacity of the recording industry was finite. There were only so many recording studios, and they were really expensive to set up and use. On top of that, the pressing factories could only replicate so many albums, even running full tilt. I'm sure if the recording industry could have let everyone record an album, they would have, but they couldn't. They had to pick who got albums and who didn't.

The result was whole nations worth of wealth being centralized into the few hundred people that a given recording industry chose, and all other musicians being left out in the cold. To this day, most municipal orchestra performers have side jobs (often as music teachers but sometimes random other stuff) because if the orchestra does pay a stipend, it's rarely a living wage. Orchestras aren't profitable any more.

But now the recording equipment for a small group goes for the range of ~$10,000, within the savings capacity of a 4 man band, and the internet will let you record and publish for free. The centralization is breaking down, and that's great for the humble garage band that wants to try to make their hobby their job. They might be able to, if they spend some time marketing themselves, and are willing to accept their income will probably be below average. They don't need the recording industry to do it.

However, it's the stuff of nightmares for super-star performers, because as money re-normalizes back to small time musicians across the globe, it'll inevitably drain out from under them.


A Static imaged served from the content web site (as opposed to an image link to the advertisers site) should not trigger an ad-blocker, wasn't that what we had in the past?


That can't be farmed the way personal data can be.


That's a feature, not a bug


For whom?

I agree it's a huge feature for me, and I wish someone would let me pay for it.


> Why isn't anyone else truly innovating? Why do all of the ad tech companies look like clones of one another?

Because simply (simplistically?) speaking, a lot of people out there want to make a lot of money, but do not have enough smarts to "truly innovate". So they end up "hustling" - cloning whatever is working, Facebook for X, Groupon for Y, Uber for Z... and there is a reasonable chance that such a strategy pays off with decent enough success rate, so I don't see this trend stopping anytime soon.


Why not try and continue to let the site be broken for people using adblock? It's their choice to break the user agent. If enough sites are broken with adblock enabled and the content is compelling enough - you would assume they would disable adblock?


As a user of AdBlock, unless it's a site I desperately need to function (there aren't very many of these), having it be broken with AdBlock turned on clues me in that something shady is going on. I'm more likely to simply leave and never come back.

Note here that I'm not against certain kinds of advertising, and I'm all for subscription models and donation incentives and a great many other ways to fund sites. But third party advertising networks have forever lost my trust, and I simply won't tolerate the security risk nor the annoyance any longer. Your site is welcome to require me to disable AdBlock, and that's fine. I don't need to read your posts that badly anyway.


> having it be broken with AdBlock turned on clues me in that something shady is going on

The "something shady" is AdBlock muscling their way into the ad revenue game using you as a way to bludgeon the sites serving the ads. Under no circumstance should an ad blocker prevent the site from working as expected; that's the purview of the site itself.


By that argument, people using IE6 are also "bludgeoning the sites serving the ads"?


Yes.


Sites can easily design themselves to work well without ads. In fact, it takes more effort to make your site break if ads aren't working.


Did you ever think to change the type of ads you are showing on your site? I'm saying this under the assumption that you are using an ad platform where you plug their code into your site and then they show your user's ads.

Have you thought about handling the advertising yourself and hand picking products and services that are directly applicable to your users and displaying them in an unobtrusive manner?

And as a side note: I consider ads from any ad network to be a security risk and while I respect sites for "politely" asking me to whitelist them I feel it's a misguided approach.


I would guess that losing 30% of the traffic would impact visibility and market share, and that is more costly than giving 30% of viewers content without ads.


A couple reasons. We run extremely lean, and only have one customer service person. If you come to the site every day, and have spent money on some of our content, and then one day the site is broken, that's a problem.

The other reason is it's a community, and the more people we have on the site, the better it is for the site as a whole; more people communicating and interacting with each other, which ideally brings more people and keeps the ones that currently visit.


Do you use an ad network that respects user privacy, doesn't retarget or track cross site, and doesn't allow non-static content (JS and Flash)?

If not, why would you expect people to stop blocking it?


Ad blockers don't generally discriminate. Adblock plus is a partial exception, in that it charges advertisers to allow their ads to be shown.


> I should mention that we've tried the usual stuff -- subscription service to remove ads. Asking our users nicely to add our site to their whitelist, etc. Both of these have had minuscule impact.

I feel for sites that show messages like this in an unintrusive yet prominent manner. But I don't remove the ad blocker because I look at what's getting blocked and notice many trackers. If it were only simple ads (preferably plain text), I wouldn't mind and would turn off the ad blocker. But I don't want to be tracked and won't add an exception for any site, cruel though it may seem from the publishers' point of view. For me, what's really cruel is the assumption on the publishers' part that tracking visitors is acceptable and even something visitors shouldn't mind just to keep the site going.


Have you considered offering a service useful enough that users will actually pay for it?


Legohead, my startup blocks just the unsafe ads without revenue impact for the publisher. One of our beta clients plans to reach out to their ad-blocking audience to re-enable ads once we're fully deployed. Maybe we can help? jerome at clarityad dot com, we're in private beta.


Which company did you employ to get around adblock? I've tried to research this space for my own site, but I've failed to find any.


That's powerful. I always imagined these things were a matter of grabbing the top of the stick. How easy can it be to try and sneak your ads through when ad block developers only have to pick out one way to identify and block them? I imagine you guys were trading man hours somewhere to the tune of 1:5


“Ad blocking is a detriment to the entire advertising ecosystem,” Paul Verna, an analyst at the research firm eMarketer, said in a statement.

Yes, and the entire advertising ecosystem is a detriment to the internet. Crafting more "compelling" advertisements won't solve the key problem: online advertisement has become an abuse of our attention spans.

We need to stop talking about pragmatism and start considering advertising from an ethical and moral perspective.


I work at an ad network and I've tried to push morals and ethics for 7 years now.

The problem is that the entire field is driven by sales people with very few exceptions. The only objective is to make more money tomorrow, so they only think about how they can squeeze the market just a bit more... Like "Oh there's an empty spot on that page, put an ad there now!", or "Hey did you see those ads that cover the entire page? Advertisers love those... I want you to implement it on all sites asap!".

Ethics, morality, user experience, security and privacy concerns are simply not a part of the equation.


I'll start this off by sincerely thanking you for trying to push morals and ethics. That being said...

Too bad so sad. I actually would have liked advertising to help support good websites, but we gave them a good, long chance, and the industry blew it. Articles like this don't make me shed a single tear. I wish it was different, but that industry brought it on themselves.


The only problem is that we're now pushing ad networks into much more murky waters... And believe me, they'll do anything to make their monthly budget.

Ever heard of native advertising? Basicly just a catch-all name given to ads that look like content. You might think that advertisers are playing nice and that they stick a "sponsored" tag on ads that look like content (as the law requires most places), but in fact they "forget" quite often.


Then it seems pointless for you to preach morals and ethics. I don't blame you, but it sounds like the entire industry is about to find out what happens when you only focus on today and it becomes tomorrow.

Make sure you have an exit plan.


I'm thinking exit plans all the time. Just registered my first company, although I'm not entirely sure what my focus will be yet.


It's business. It's all driven by sales and profit. It's never otherwise.


"I work at an ad network"

That's the root of your problem.


I'll disagree with you. As someone who strongly hates ads, I think they could be useful and done well. They just aren't.


I've tried finding other work.


Yeah, exactly: being a detriment to the entire advertising ecosystem is the whole point of using an adblocker. It makes the web mostly tolerable again. (Disabling javascript by default helps a lot with that, too.)


I haven't much sympathy for either consumers or content providers who use ads.

The delivery of the content has to be paid for by someone. Usually the consumer balks at that. People expect things on the internet to simply be free. But they aren't free, and ads are a way of signaling that.

That doesn't mean the current situation where ads are intrusive and irritating and a source of malware is good, and that's on the content providers and ad networks to address.


The delivery of the content is paid by all of us, because the cost of advertising is of course priced into every single purchase we make. The idea that "the internet is free because of ads" (not your point, but the idea is brought up all the time) is wrong - we're not just paying by suffering the ads, we are literally paying with our money for that nonsense.


Yep, which is one reason why I haven't much sympathy for consumers. Another being that I've been on the provider end, and saw consumers pick the "free" ad-driven version of an app over the $1 version. They can't view the ads as being that bad if even $1 is such a steep price they'll tolerate the ads to avoid paying it.


I think it's important to note that the 30% increase claim comes from PageFair (https://pagefair.com/blog/2017/adblockreport/), which is a company that helps other companies bypass adblocker and still have ads on their site (ostensibly in a much less offensive manner).

They have an active interest in (over)estimating very agressively about the growth of adblockers -- it's their business model.


It makes sense. I install ublock on my parents computers, because without ads to send them off course when they are browsing, they are much less likely to get malware. And it works. I've often wondered how they ended up with so much malware on their computer and I'm now convinced that ads are a big cause.


I did this for my parents, but mostly to save bandwidth. They live far enough out of town that they can only use Verizon LTE. It saves them over $100/yr.


My parents live rurally where the only options are satellite or a rooftop 3G antenna with flakey and expensive 3G data. Adblocking has been a huge deal for them. Saves money and speeds up page loading dramatically.


Holy crap. Assuming no other change in behaviour - I wonder what they're yearly value is to ad networks? Maybe a couple dollars in comparison?


I came here to write this. I would have the same problem with my parents computer obtaining malware which I had no clue to how. Since I have installed ad blockers on their computers I haven't had issues with malware on their computers.


> I install ublock on my parents computers

I hesitate to install ad-blockers for non-technical users who would need support every time a website doesn't work. Many wouldn't be able to pin down the problem to the ad-blocker; they'd just think something was broken (seemingly randomly attributed to web browser, website, Internet connection, computer, something they clicked, etc.).

How do people here deal with that? I don't want support calls daily, and even if I did it wouldn't be a good experience for the users.


uBlock Origin very rarely breaks a site. They're more likely to encounter malware without it than a broken site with it.


Subscribe to a subset of the lists you would normally use.


This. I installed ublock on my grandpa's computer because he called a day after I sent him a new one to tell me it wasn't working right. In just one day he had loaded it up with malware. I installed ublock, installed a bunch of additional filters, and there's been no problem since.


uBlock is more useful than full-blown antivirus software, and the fact that my parents too have not had viruses since forcing them to use Chrome/uBlockOrigin just proves that point. Antivirus is good once you've already been screwed. The point to me, though, is to not get screwed in the first place. uBlock is amazing.

Interestingly, I think this is why Google is now cracking down hard on bad websites. They're trying to justify people not using adblockers. It's a losing game.


I'm not sure why you've been downvoted, and I largely agree with the position that in most cases an adblocker will stop most malware from reaching the user.

I suspect the remaining cases mostly come from email and social engineering, where most antivirus aren't likely to be meaningfully better than MSE/Defender/whatever the OS has built in.


The elephant in the room here is the assumption that newspapers or other media that rely only on ads to survive should automatically have a viable business model just because they had a viable model with printed media.

Clearly, this is not the case. One can't adblock printed media, but can certainly adblock websites.

The solution? Find a better business model. For example, stack overflow uses non-intrusive, pertinent ads to entice people to white list the site, and separate revenue streams like a job board to keep the site running.

I understand that this might sound simplistic. I am perfectly aware of how hard this problem is to fix -- however the world moves in the direction dictated by the big economic trends. Websites have almost zero variable cost -- most cost is fixed and does not scale as pageviews increase -- so economics tells us that competition will drive the value of a pageview to zero.


For starters, I'd love to see online newspapers run ads that behave like print ads. This would mean they show the same ad for everyone (not an ad that the ad network thinks will match your interests,) the ad does not move or play audio, the ad does not track views or clicks, the ad is delivered to you by the same infrastructure that delivers the article (that is, from the same image and JavaScript CDNs, no external resources,) the ads are not overly distracting from the main content and each ad is vetted for misleading and false claims.

These ads would be harder to block, mainly because of the CDN thing, but maybe not as many people would want to go out of their way to block them. readthedocs.io sometimes runs ads that fit this criteria and, at least on my machine, uBlock doesn't block them yet.


Maybe sites like Stack Overflow have 0 variable cost but this is more of an exception.

The viable model is paywalls and that's where quality content will go. I don't see a big deal with that as I will gladly pay for content that I value.


> Maybe sites like Stack Overflow have 0 variable cost but this is more of an exception.

Interesting, how so? I find it difficult to imagine any media site that, once they produced a piece of content, has to pay any other substantial cost as they get more views.

In other words: doubling up page views for the Guardian does not mean doubling up the costs of producing the articles. That's what I mean by "substantially zero variable cost".


Not doubling costs but delivery photo and video does increase costs significantly. Something Stack Overflow doesn't have to do.


well, to the interest on the initial investment.


> By using software to block digital advertising, critics say, users are breaking an unwritten pact with websites and digital publishers, many of which generate the bulk of their revenue from these ads.

No. The unwritten pact is "you can show ads, as long as they're not intrusive (layer ads, popup ads), don't distribute malware and don't unneccessarily invade the privacy of the users".

Just go back to hosting and managing your own ads - print media most certainly can do this, given their print ad sales teams, and I believe there's a market for advertising brokers which allow a 1:1 connection between advertiser and the content platform.

Edit: And for heavens sake, do not roll out fucking video ads, especially not on mobile pages. Not everyone has 50GB+ data volume like in Finland...


In theory, yes. This is what they should have done. But now that they have violated our trust, our ad blockers are going to block even their legitimate self-hosted and managed ads. Some people will white-list, but not nearly enough to make up for the expense of managing ads in house.


Seems to me that's the genie they can't put back in the bottle. As I said in another comment, up to a point users will tolerate advertising. But go past that point, and users will take the nuclear option, and once it's on their machine there's no going back. Ever get a new machine and surf the web without an ad blocker after using one for a while? Fucking horrible, isn't it? Yup, your grandma thinks so, too. So could you come over and put that ad thing on her new iPad? Similar thing happened to the music industry. File all the lawsuits you want, insist all you like that the accepted way to buy music is on an over-priced piece of plastic, wax eloquently of "unwritten pacts", but users are going to stand in line to splash buckets of cold water in your face until you get it.

The advertising industry as a whole could have taken a different, better path. But they're just as lazy as I am, and they took the easy way out. In the long-term, though, they're going to have a tough time of it as a result of short-term thinking.

And white-listing? Didn't I just say I'm lazy?


Not only that, but lack of ads on a page is truly corrupting. Once you've seen it you can't go back.

I can't look at someone without an ad blocker's browser without going "uh, here, install this".

I just don't see them anymore, since I don't pay for TV and block ads online, ads are almost entirely outside my daily experience. So when I encounter them now it triggers a burn-it-with-fire response.


My ublock install doesn't block self hosted ads. They have to come from an ad server to be blocked.


uBlock Origin can block self-hosted ads. If you see non-blocked ads somewhere, just report the details to filter list maintainers. The tens of thousands of filters in those filter lists are the result of users reporting instances of non-blocked ads, for the benefit of all other users.


I would want my ad blocker to do that anyway. I don't want to experience any advertisements. I do not believe my experiencing an advertisement will enrich anyone, and my life will be made worse.


Now we need tools which delete those annoying "you are running an ad blocker" popups. For sites which do that, right click on "Inspect element"in Firefox, mouse around in the element tree until you find the popup node, and do a Delete Node on it. That usually brings the content back. An add-on to assist with this would be popular.

We're going to need browsers which render original pages on a non-visible page, ads and all, then extract the good stuff from the DOM and put it on a visible page. Then the site can't tell if you're blocking ads.


https://reek.github.io/anti-adblock-killer/

You can enable it within uBlock Origin.


I would rather just not visit sites that want me to disable my ad blocker.


> We're going to need browsers which render original pages on a non-visible page, ads and all, then extract the good stuff from the DOM and put it on a visible page. Then the site can't tell if you're blocking ads.

Firefox does that, it's called the "Reader Mode".


Reader mode will not reveal content on paywalled sites, even if it's there. E.g. article content in a hidden div. Elinks (or even just "view source") will.


Considering reader mode is open source, adding that feature is quite easy. I obviously can't confirm nor deny if I have done so before.


Safari and Edge also have this built-in. For Chrome, you need a plugin.


YARIP(Yet Another Remove It Permanently) add-on for firefox[1] and chrome does this wonderfully, it also easily lets me remove entire ad sections of websites for when I can't be bothered to block 10 ad windows individually, I can nix the entire part of the site reserved for ads. I know a lot of people complain that I am not viewing the site as intended, but what of it? Creators serve up the site, I simply remove the part of the content I don't like to see, much in the same way when I used to watch television I would change the channel when ads came up.

[1]https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/yarip/


There's https://github.com/NicolaeNMV/BehindTheOverlay which can also remove other kinds of overlay popup


Nuke Anything is another addon that allows you to delete any part of the page you like using the right click context menu.


For reading an article, I find that using elinks to open the page usually does it. Sometimes, it doesn't work if the content is loaded by javascript. Then I just move on. Anything newsworthy can be found on a dozen different news sites; there's nothing special about any one publisher.


You can do this easily with uBlock origin. Right click -> block element. Done.


Turn on Reek filter list subscription in uBlock origin.


Adblock is an autoimmune response. Adoption goes high because ads take too much in resources.

Thats why as the article said ad block became really popular in indonesia, because it costed users too much of their data plan compared to the value they got. And the reason why is because rich media ads became more frequent compared to a few years ago.

To avoid becoming an autoimmune response victim, you have to do things like google AMP where 'ad-enhanced' becomes a benefit.


Does anyone else here make their living from advertising? Well over 50% of my users run ad block. I get 1.5 million page views a day on my primary site (4,000 Alexa), and the advertisements cover my AWS bill, and pay me an average salary. That's it, and the profits are dropping every year as more people use ad block.

It's scary. I have a million users, run the business extremely lean with just myself, and I'm barely scrapping by at the moment. If I can't survive, how is everyone else going to survive? Don't get me wrong, I use ad block too for obvious reasons, but we're going to see more and more businesses closing up shop unless there is a better way to monetize content online in the near future.


Let me ask you a single question: How would you react if the advertisement your site distribute contains malware.

Will users be compensated and get repairs paid? Since its very costly and likely company threatening, would you pay a insurance which would cut into profits even more. What kind of risk mitigation do you employ to lower users risk and your own liability when deciding which ads runs on your site?


There are only 3 options (plus shutting it down) 1) Native advertising/sponsored articles/affiliate revenue or whatever applies. 2) subscription/paywall. 3) Proper advertising (that isn't blocked). You contact the advertiser, you put a sponsor message/banner/whatever on the site and you agree on a price. No targeting, no tracking.

I think a majority of the sites that are ad-funded today will have to find a new working business model or go under.

I hope there will be a renaissance in online advertising where decent advertising lets content be "free" in the sense that I'm not paying with my integrity and information.


> There are only 3 options (plus shutting it down) 1) Native advertising/sponsored articles/affiliate revenue or whatever applies. 2) subscription/paywall. 3) Proper advertising (that isn't blocked).

Micropayments are another option; Brave has implemented them.


Lots of people have tried micropayments lots of times and they've consistently failed. A single yet-another-Chromium-based-browser that doesn't even support extensions probably isn't going to fix it.


If people aren't willing to pay money for a service then they probably aren't willing to pay with integrity/information either - if they can avoid it. So failed paywall and micropayment experiments are probably a sign that the web site has an unsustainable business model.

A better system for micropayments would certainly help here though - most people who won't pay likely don't want to register an account at a third party service just to pay a dime to a web site.

I think this problem will be solved simply by the fact that traditional ad (network) revenue will dry up.


Good point - cat 2) should be any form of direct payment (sell products or services, sell access as subscription or micropayments, accept donations, whatever)


If your site has a lot of image content, I'd love for you to try out PLEENQ (http://pleenq.com). It doesn't inconvenience your users, and in fact helps them buy things directly from your images. You can also use it on top of any of the advertising you're currently using (or even donations if you move to that).

Here's a site using it for their lifestyle blog -- hover over the first image (desktop only): https://www.theskinnyconfidential.com/2016/11/04/bridal-show...

Email me at justin@pleenq.com if you have any questions!


wow that is some next gen advertising right there, my has a image sharing startup (https://itsosticky.com). I'll let him know.

Does it need to be mapped to each product or can it do that itself?


They need to mapped individually, but it's a really simple interface to do it. I've also just added a templating system that allows you to customize all aspects of the popup, and am about to go live with a split test system that lets you split test multiple items to the same region.


AdBlock is trying with their "acceptable ads" option being the default.

Brave browser is also a good idea but I doubt it will gain traction. It should have been a plugin.

After being frustrated with the lack of "decent" blockers for my other devices (android, iphone, tablets, etc) I started blocking network wide now. It will be difficult to go back.


Almost certainly that is the case. Look into things like Patreon, etc and see if they can make you more money a million users at say 1/100 paying 5$ a month is a nice income.

You might also want to look into cutting out the middle man and doing sponsored posts, or display ads directly from the providers - or if not make sure that any books mentioned has Amazon referal links.


I can relate to that. I run websites myself and it's surprising how many users you need to make a living.

Your $5 per 70k views would be $0.07 per 1000 views. Are those 70k views the number that adsense shows you or the number that Analytics shows you? Because that is a huge difference. Adsense views do not include users with ad blockers. On my sites, 66% of the users use ad blockers.

From what I read, you run something like a forum? Is the traffic is mostly returning visitors?


The difference between the adsense data and the analytics data shows not the amount of users with content blockers but only those who block ads without also blocking trackers. (At least as long as it's one of those standard analytics services.)


Id like to try and solve this puzzle. Shoot me an email. No bs or strings.


If you have that much traffic you should be able to sell and serve ads yourself, bypassing blocking software.


Paywall?


It's a strong community of users, so I'm going to try the donation route soon, with bonuses for donators.

I tried having someone well connected in my industry directly sell advertising campaigns. They were able to increase ad revenue by about 30k per year. However, I needed to pay them, so at the end of the day it didn't have any benefit, and I went back to using ad networks.

Edit:

I run another site as well that has 5,000 daily unique users and 70,000 daily page views. It has two advertisements, one above the fold on the homepage, and one closer to the footer. It earns about $5 per day. That's it. I don't think many people understand how low earnings are for most sites.

Lots of publishers have been adding more advertisements, and trying to block users with ad block enabled, and it's not because they're greedy, money grabbers, trying to steal all of your information. Most of them are just trying to stay afloat as the ship sinks.

There is not enough money going to content online. How much do you donate to HN, Reddit, StackOverflow, and hundreds of other sites and services you use on a regular basis? I donate $0, and the majority of other people do the same. That's a problem, and we need a solution.


I personally really like when creators goes the patreon model where you as a creator pick a hard line at what salary is needed and then leave it up to the community to fulfill the requirement.

My best example of this is a very nice painted webcomic that updated once a month, and viewers reached his 4.5k goal so he could hire an additional person to help make it two comics a month. It makes the implicit contract between viewer and creator explicit, and readers would instantly know why and who to blame if the comic went back to only update once a month again.


"5,000 daily unique users, 70,000 daily page views, earns about $5 per day."

If your traffic is mostly US/UK/EU, then you are doing something very very wrong to be only earning $5 per day.


All of my sites are fairly diverse. US is the largest region, but it only comes in around 15% of total users.


That will increase the ratio of revenue-generating users to gratis users by reducing the overall number of users.

I recommend implementing a friction-free way for people to support your site, at whatever level they may feel comfortable with. Then you can occasionally remind readers that the continued quality of the site depends on you being able to pay for both it and your rent/mortgage.

Make a page that allows people to give you money via Patreon, Amazon Payments, PayPal, Bitcoin, Rixty, Venmo, and whatever else may be convenient for you. As the revenue from those sources allow, gradually remove the ads, and try to make it obvious that some ads went away because of increased direct patronage.

If you still want some ad revenue, you will probably need some way to do direct ad sales, and embed your paid endorsement into your content somehow, in a manner that is not off-putting to your audience, while also publicly disclosing that you were paid to promote something.


Stop serving Javascript.

Most of the media industry's problems with malvertising would disappear if they only served up <img> tags. They could also one-up the ad blockers by serving images from within their own domain. Why the media industry hasn't united to clean up their act is baffling. Google certainly isn't going to take leadership on this issue since any solution cuts into their revenue.


Stop serving Javascript.

That would work for me. I don't block ads, I simply block JavaScript from most sites. The paucity of ads served to me is a happy side effect.

Why the media industry hasn't united to clean up their act is baffling.

The media industry is constantly doubling down, trying to be more and more obnoxious. The exact opposite of cleaning up their act.


I've just switched to firefox mobile and uBlock origin and self destructing cookies work perfectly. Previously I had used a hosts file which helped but broke some sites and let some ads through.

It's marginally slower than chrome but otherwise I couldn't be happier.


This is my setup too and it works very well.

It's also worth mentioning that Firefox has built-in tracking protection that can be enabled in all tabs through about:config.

There's also a built-in option to block downloading webfonts.

Overall, Firefox on Android seems to be a lot more privacy focussed than Chrome.


Same. I highly recommend it on mobile, even with its quirks. And I actually like their controversial reader view feature on the desktop. It seems to work even on sites that block ad-blocked browsers.


I asked politely to not be tracked by using the opt-in switch in my browsers. Advertisers literally laughed at that and said they wouldn't honor it.

So now ads are blocked on my browser. All of them. The advertising industry and the people who use it to monetize are at fault. They did nothing to prevent the awful privacy mess that was made of the web without ad-blocking.


Unfortunately, Microsoft turned it on by default for all installs which killed it. It was supposed to be a user specifically opting in so it would be treated like a request directly to the advertiser. Microsoft's end-run around that gave advertisers the excuse they needed and it died. I think it would have gained some serious traction if it had been specifically opt in.


Ad blocking is here to stay. Some people compare it to antivirus revolution, allowing end users to protect their browsing experience against malware and malicious use of web.

Check this out: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160111/05574633295/forbe...


Advertisements are very often intended to incept and promote an idea virally. They are, for better or worse, memetic mind viruses.

Adblockers are in a very literal sense antivirus.


Advertising induces desire to generate economic activity. If desire is suffering, then advertising (in the most extreme sense) can be viewed as a form of paid torture.


And then you have someone discovering the teachings of the Buddha from an ad ran by their local Dharma center seeking new patrons.


Second that! I love the analogy ;)


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