Despite these drawbacks, the popularity of content has ensured that it can be found on most major websites, perpetually tantalizing us with its meretricious charms.
But this model is facing a potentially existential threat.
Mobile users may be glad to hear that iOS and Android version are available, but users in general should be warned about reports in 2013 of the company – ironically – selling its data to advertisers.
But in exchange for paying that 99 cents for an adblocker, iOS users are, in fact, paying for ads.
“In the long term”, Murphy wrote, “I’m hoping this convinces advertising agencies and publishers to reassess the kind of advertising they are using and bring them in line to either the Acceptable Ads (or similar) criteria”. The JSON consists of an array of rules (triggers and actions) for blocking specified content. Safari converts the JSON to bytecode, which it applies efficiently to all resource loads without leaking information about the user’s browsing back to the app extension. Ad blockers are a symptom, not the problem.
One strategy for overcoming ad blockers is native advertising, as mentioned previously.
Dean Murphy, the developer behind one of the leading ad-blocking apps, believes that consumer aren’t necessarily looking to block ads. If ad-blockers prove to be the destructive thieves of the Internet that many claim them to be, take them down.
While using XBL and CSS to halt elements of Silverlight, Macromedia Authorware, Adobe Director and Adobe Flash from displaying, it doesn’t stop Flash content from downloading or prevent its execution, but allows users to unblock or “whitelist” content by click or via the Flashblock menu. But Ilfeld and Goldman point out that this estimate, while high, certainly isn’t unattainable. On many sites, ads have now become “sticky”: even when you scroll down, they just sit there at the top of the page, never going away, taking up precious screen real estate and generally making you want to punch somebody. It masked the update under the guise of providing a better user experience. Writing in our latest print edition, Jon Mundy, UK MD of Zapp 360, says it’s symptomatic of the unnecessary complexity and clumsiness of the mobile ad industry, with multiple tags being used to collect audience data and so slowing down the serving of the ad and the page on which it appears.
There’s another camp that argues publishers will flee from the web and into apps where ads can’t be blocked.
It could also be that a few users prefer that Purify allows for whitelisting sites they choose, something not possible with Crystal.
Ad blockers have plenty of benefits.
Ad blockers are not a mortal threat to digital media. It’s a hopeful premise, but it assumes users will take a proactive role in allowing ads from sites they like and want to support, effectively working harder to still see ads. But that’s not a distinction most readers make. About 70 companies are reportedly signed up, but their names have not been disclosed.
Unfortunately, there is collateral damage here and all companies active on the mobile web will need to learn to live in a world where iOS users have ad blockers.
For the newspaper industry, the web is one of its last avenues to keep the presses running. Other companies engaged in the Acceptable Ads effort include Reddit, Adblock Plus and several others.
It’s a move that remains controversial, and it will be interesting to see just how the implementation works in practice.