Last I looked into outbrain, the ads were simply a picture and some text. These linked to the advertised site. All images and scripts were hosted by outbrain themselves so there was no third party scripts running or other dubious content that could be inserted.
So in terms of security, outbrains ads were doing a lot better than, say, Google's ad network. Of course what is being advertised is more dubious but that's always been an issue with clicking random ads.
I don't like Outbrain's clickbait ads, but they're at least part of the debate around "is it fair to use sites while knowingly avoiding their monetization?" As far as I'm concerned, that entire debate is a nonstarter if it implies loading whatever wretched JS happens to be served by a page. ABP is sufficient to let us talk about honesty and distraction, which apply to TV or print ads also. Otherwise, I think the conversation begins and ends with security and privacy.
The last bastion left is ublock origin. Please, more people need to move to it (and while at it, consider moving to firefox as well).
Pi-Hole (or equivalents, I use the OpenWRT Adblock package on my router) work through domain and host-based blocking, which is powerful, but not exclusive, and carries side-effects. As a bonus, if your local resolver (which is what Pi-Hole is) serves your local LAN or WiFi network, ALL devices are automatically protected, at least while they're on that network (and are configured to use that resolver).
uBlock Origin works based on domain-based blocks, but also other heuristics, and (where the capability exists) can block specific elements within Web pages.
Generally, Pi-Hole or other resolver-based DNS blocklists:
- Covers all local devices and applications.
- Its configuration can be automatically configured via your network's DHCP server.
- It covers all applications.
- It works only for devices while they're using that network or DNS resolver.
Generally uBlock Origin or other extension-based adblockers:
- Cover only the application for which they're installed.
- Offer more extensive blocking capabilities.
- Work regardless of network you're on or when roaming in mobile state.
Where possible, I use both. For devices and apps in which uBlock Origin (or equivalent) isn't available, I rely on DNS-based blockers. When I'm mobile, unfortunately, I get ads, and really, really, really, really hate them.
- hardware, and I’m lazy (admittedly, that doesn’t really qualify as a good reason);
- I browse on mobile, at work, from cafés, etc.
I like the idea of having a device that handles my connection everywhere and my mobile and laptop are always “on wifi” with that device. I’d love to have a centralised solution to use the dodgy wifi connection at airports, for instance.
Here's a dated but reasonable overview of the process from Digital Ocean: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-bloc...
I use a combination of PiHole, Firefox+uBO, and VPN + FW rules to stay as much away from ads as possible even when browsing mobile. uBO is the single most convenient and effective measure out of all of them.
It doesn't have to be real hardware: you can run pihole in a VM (KVM, Hyper-V, etc) on your local machine. It'll eat a bit of RAM of course, but it doesn't need a huge amount to serve one user.
This doesn't solve the setup time of course, and trouble-shooting time if something goes wrong.
For mobile I run OpenVPN at home: all my traffic when on on my phone provider's network or public/guest wifi goes down that including DNS request going to my pihole instance. This isn't perfect of course: there is still some setup and maintenance involved, and some networks block or significantly throttle VPN traffic (throttling can be worked around by running the VPN on port TCP443 if it is done by simple port based rules but that may mean having a spare IPv4 address to hand).
And in my case the VPN is not just for accessing my ad-/malware- blocking DNS resolver, but also for accessing other local resources and for general paranoia (nothing goes over the mobile network or public/guest WiFi unencrypted). Useful extra feature: because payment processors think I'm at home I'm bothered less by extra identity verification steps than I would be if my source address and therefore derived location changed regularly.
DNS traffic going through the VPN stops the network intercepting and forcing it through their resolver anyway (I'm looking at you, Sky) and means that I don't have to make my DNS resolver visible to the unwashed masses.
So I'm not just being obtuse. IMO, anyway.
dns.adguard.com  is decent for a free offering, though offers no custom rules.
Do potential investors/employees actually believe this kind of drivel or is it a sort of expected formalistic dance?
I noticed when I ran my mouth about Taboola and they told me a Taboola employee was sitting right there. :- )
Weasel words all around, but I can't point to where they're specifically lying.
AdSense has a similar CPC model, but leaves it to the publisher to place individual ads, and suffers from bifurcated demand- much of the Google ad money flows to their CPM / Impression based Ad Exchange banner ads.
Direct response advertisers do very well with content-rec style ads. I would never think its okay to run them as a publisher, but thousands of big sites can't say no.
I've often wondered about that. Because when I see Taboola/Outbrain at the bottom of the page, I think to myself, "whoops, took the wrong exit and now I'm in the low-rent district."
But the people responsible for ad operations at publishers will often insist on placing such widgets on every remaining patch of white space, saying that failing to do so is "leaving money on the table."
I'm running an adtech platform for newspapers (I do price comparison and I believe that I add value to the product review articles) and newspapers need to generate revenue. They usually have loads of staff from decades ago when people were still buying paper journals and magazines.
Many don't, never will, and are incapable of understanding what the problem even is.
The other 5% reason is malicious ads/tracking. I'd actually be open to not running adblockers anymore if these two reasons were eliminated from the web. I'd be fine with small non tracking ads from non cringe worthy gigantic ad networks that invade basically every webpage I visit nowadays.
PS - Ublock Origin actually doesn't block these two networks (Taboola/Outbrain) by default - you have to enable Fanboys Annoyance list to do so.
We're just going to see crappier content at a larger scale that earns them less money due to significantly reduced competition.