> The very beginning of ad blocking is the 90s, just when the ads appeared. In 1993, GNN, the very first web advertising service, was launched. Then in 1994, the first-ever banner was sold. In the blink of an eye, the online ad industry was worth billions of dollars. Double Click emerged, Yahoo started to sell ads. And that's when the very first ad blocker was created.
GNN (Global Network Navigator) was not an advertising service. It was the first commercial online magazine. O’Reilly & Associates, the publisher of GNN, wanted to see if a website like GNN could be supported through commercial sponsorship. GNN’s ads were informational — much more like whitepapers than a display ads. (Wired’s HotWired site, which launched at almost exactly the same time as GNN in the fall of 1993, invented the banner ad, which of course is what most adblocking tech has targeted. Cookies for tracking didn’t come along until later.)
Source: I worked on GNN as technical director, and in fact my first job there, in the summer of 1993 about a month before we launched, was to assemble the first ‘ad’ — a set of articles about intellectual property law, sponsored by the now-defunct Bay area law firm Heller Ehrman.
Isn't that the same thing? With a couple of exceptions, magazines are advertising services first and foremost, in as much as the overwhelming majority of their revenue comes from ads.
But I’ll tell you that the the existence of GNN itself, in 1993, was certainly not for the purpose of serving ads. Heck, as I explained, online advertising didn’t even exist at that time (besides a few misguided attempts on Usenet), so there was only conjecture that it might work at all, and lots of room to experiment.
Also, there was really no other economic revenue model accessible to us, other than sponsored content, as there were no online payment systems on the WWW of that era. Heck, there weren’t really any active websites at all — almost all sites (including GNN) were what we’d today call static sites. (As I mentioned, cookies came later, so there was also zero targeting of ads besides basic demographics of Internet users at the time.)
My cynicism comes not from being ignorant of traditional newspapers but from having been very close to them. My experience is that people (in any industry really) may be decent, noble, and above any such influence on any conscious level, and yet they will nevertheless show an almost magical tendency to act in alignment with their economic interests, even when they seem to have reached their position on wholly unrelated grounds.