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Blocking web ads is ‘as bad as Napster’, says data firm

“More internet users are blocking adverts than ever before, according to a new report, with the rate more than doubling over the course of last year.

As of June 2014, almost 150 million browsers are using some form of ad blocker, the vast majority of whom are using plug-ins for either Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

Those figures are significantly larger than the authors had expected. “We did a report last year, around the same time, and we had anticipated growth of about 43%,” said Sean Blanchfield of PageFair, which produced the report with Adobe. “What really surprised us was that the actual growth was significantly higher.”

The figures, which are derived from observed downloads of adblocking software, are not the only thing in the report likely to scare advertisers. Ad blocking is most popular with younger users – 41% of American internet users aged between 18 and 29 used adblocking software, rising to 54% when only young men are counted.

Use of adblockers “is really concentrated on exactly the kind of people that advertisers are targeting,” explained Blanchfield. “It’s millennials. You can basically see a large cohort of adblockers growing up – as adblockers. And this isn’t good news for the advertising industry, or publishers.”

Describing the growing use of the software as “like the Napster of the advertising industry”, Blanchfield questions what the media’s response to the rise of ad blocking will be.

“Are they going to go after the end users? Or are they going to try and recognise that something’s changed here, and that certain kinds of users, who are more technically sophisticated, and media literate, aren’t going to accept very aggressive forms of advertising any more.””

My god, do they really not get it? That it’s not ads as such that we’re blocking, but intrusive ads? Pop-ups, auto-play videos, animated Flash ads that distract you from reading… If they could make ads that don’t prevent us from using web sites, I’m all in favor of them. (As you can see here, I only have two static ads at tho bottom of posts; I will not put anything that will prevent people from reading.)

And, frankly, the number of times I’ve clicked on web ads, in the nearly 20 years that I’ve been using the web, is probably in the single digits. The only exceptions are when a site has an ad for a product; so, for example, a magazine web site has an ad for books they sell; or a publisher highlights a new book in an ad, instead of in editorial content. (And I can’t think of any other cases.)

One exception is links to products, such as links to CDs, books or apps from a web page to either a label’s or publisher’s web site, to Amazon, or to the App Store. But I don’t see those as ads; I’ve read editorial content about something, I want to find out more. As everyone in the business is aware, that sort of organic content is far more efficient than any ads.

Oh, and trackers; the “ads” that track your activity and sell it to other companies. Let’s not forget that. For example, the page I link to below has 21 trackers on it…

And, loading this page, with ads blocked, takes 8.65 sec. Without them blocked, it takes 11.43 sec. And that’s 185 K vs 6 MB.

via Blocking web ads is ‘as bad as Napster’, says data firm | Technology |

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn