Are Ad-Blockers an Economic Threat?

Well, maybe they’re not an economic threat to everyone, but certainly for online publishers, who rely primarily on advertising to support their services. Continue reading to find out why. 

So let’s start with the basics, what are ad blockers? Ad blockers are content filtering and ad blocking extensions, that can be used on all the main web browsers, such as Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox. There are different versions of ad blockers, but to save confusion, we will focus specifically on Ad Block within this post.  

Is Ad Block Free? Like many apps and extensions, the Ad Block extension is free. However, the Ad Block premium version comes at a price, as it omits ads from video watching on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch – all highly used video watching and streaming services. Ad Block hopes that once you experience the free version, you would benefit even more from the premium and take the plunge in purchasing this. 

Not only is Ad Block free, but it is becoming more and more popular with regular internet users. In the UK, 41% of online users said that they use Ad Block in 2018. 30% of this 41% use Ad Block on their desktop, 11% on their laptop and 13% on mobile devices. 

Why do regular people use ABlock? Internet users use Ad Block because they are fed up with trying to view content whilst being bombarded with time-wasting ads that they are not interested in. This includes anything from auto-play videos, pop-ups, and flash animation ads that follow the user whilst they scroll up and down the page. Another big issue with online ads is the use of user behaviour and location trackingraising privacy and GDPR concerns. ‘Malvertising’ is also an increasing issue linked to malware damage to computers and software that is caused by untrustworthy ads that the user might click on. In this sense, who wouldn’t want Ad Block, it solves many annoying issues for a wide spread of people. 

So, what’s the issue with Ad Block? Ad-block imposes a serious threat to publishers who rely primarily on ads to support them. They can, however, pay for ad-block detectors to ask the user to disable their ad-block extension before they can view the content on this specific website. The price of this ad block detector suggests they are out of pocket and therefore leads the publishers to need more annoying and undesirable pop up ads, to increase the per-emission and per-click rate – thus pocketing the money. These ads interfere with what the user actually wants to view on the web page, causing them to be taken to other ad pages that they did not intend to be on. Eventually, this will cause the user to use a different website, with fewer ads, to view similar content, ultimately leaving the publisher worse off yet again. A vicious cycle is therefore formed. 

What does this This begs the question, are online ads becoming less effective? Would it have been better if Ad Block was not created, and therefore web pages would have more suitable, less interfering ads, that were manageable for the user? 

Is it true that the clash between ad blockers and ad detectors have led to something messier than what is necessary, leaving ad-reliant businesses at the brunt of abusive incentives that benefit those who are hungrier for money? 

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