Years ago, I discovered this piece of software called AdBlock. It was software that blocked ads from appearing in web browsers. It was an interesting idea, and it was free, so I decided to give it a try. It was a simple add-on for the Chrome browser, easy to just add and go. I didn’t see many ads on the internet after that. Afterwards, I didn’t think much of it, and enjoyed a much more tolerable internet.
It wasn’t until recently, when I used a school computer, that I realized just how much I was benefiting from AdBlock’s service. This was during class, as I was doing a bit of research for a project that I was working on. As I was reading a web page, a couple ads appeared on the side. They were obnoxious and distracting from what I was doing. Refreshing the page would have just made the ads load again. One of the ads was animated and brightly colored, and was so distracting, that I opened a blank text document and positioned it’s window over the ad so I’d have an easier time focusing on my work.
Afterwards, I opened YouTube to watch some tutorials, and had to sit through some ads before my video would load. Even during the video itself, a small text ad would be displayed toward the bottom of the video which I took the trouble of X-ing out of. There are other pop-up ads like this, and for some of them, the red X is so small, that it’s easy to click in the body of the ad itself, and be taken to another webpage that wastes bandwidth with faulty code.
It’s obvious. AdBlock is one of the best things to happen to the internet.
But it would seem that not everyone thinks so. Particularly, advertisers. That’s not really a surprise. But I did discover that a lot of YouTube personalities are speaking up against AdBlock. Their motives are easy to understand; many of these YouTube personalities are YouTube partners, and therefore benefit financially from YouTube’s ad revenue.
Yes, websites out there do make money off of advertising revenue. The purpose of this article is not to say that that’s wrong. Businesses make money, and that money is what they use to stay afloat. What I find surprising is a sense of entitlement on the part of the ones that complain about AdBlock.
That might sound ironic. Aren’t advertisers and those who defend them saying that AdBlock users are acting entitled to an ad-free internet? What I find ironic is that many website owners feel entitled to exposing their viewers to ads. But the reality is, it doesn’t have to happen. A person can just choose not to view the ads. That’s the right of a person who is viewing virtually any media. A person who doesn’t want to watch television commercials can just walk out of the room and take a break until the commercials are over. An advertiser that insists that a person must stay in their chair until the program resumes is going to get laughed at. Similarly, theaters don’t turn away people who paid for a viewing and show up late to avoid the previews, and shows up just in time for the film to begin. And how is anyone to do anything about the person who cuts the ads out of their magazines and newspapers?
When advertisers learned how to gain exposure through pop-ups and banner ads using the internet, they seized the opportunity like toads unleashed on a cricket farm. They didn’t even exercise a little restraint. And for a while, those who used the internet could do little but complain, and for a while, accepted it as an unfortunate fact of the internet.
That is, until AdBlock came to town. When AdBlock became seriously popular, advertisers started soiling themselves because people had gained widespread access to a tool that made the internet bearable again. Right now, you see YouTube partners carrying water for YouTube itself, attempting to discourage people from using AdBlock.
Yeah. A sudden influx of videos on YouTube, discouraging AdBlock. Can you imagine how that would backfire?
As you can imagine, more people, becoming aware of AdBlock, have decided to give it a try, and their browsing experience is better for it. Finally, no more distracting, seizure-inducing banners! No more ads that assign themselves priority over loading the rest of the page! No more pop-ups covering up the content that you visited the web page
Now you see YouTube partners trying to paint AdBlock in the most negative light possible. No, using AdBlock is not stealing. Those who use it are using software that they legally downloaded and was licensed to them, using computers that belong to them. Again, advertisers are not entitled to a viewership. Nor are web content creators entitled to an audience exposed to advertisements.
Lately, I’ve been hearing things like “if everyone used AdBlock, there would have to be a massive change in how the internet does business.” Maybe that’s what needs to happen. I like when large, unethical companies such as advertisers don’t get what they want. Web pages have already been flooded with ads because either the content creators or advertisers were motivated with greed. The reason we have AdBlock today is because the advertisements have gotten so far out of control that the people themselves have put their foot down.
I know that some are predicting an internet doomsday because of AdBlock. Of course some are going to present only a worst-case scenario, but I think that things are going to happen differently. It’s likely that some websites will attempt to use measures to circumvent AdBlock. Some, such as Hulu.com, have already done this. I think that if advertisers want their ads to be seen badly enough, they will engage in a battle with AdBlock itself, which would probably resemble the battle between rogue programmers and antivirus programs. Advertisers would likely develop new and sophisticated techniques to push their obnoxious propaganda, while AdBlock and similar programs would develop counter-measures. At least at that point, advertisers would be earning their money (sort of).
I use AdBlock. I’m not likely to stop using AdBlock anytime soon. If advertisers want me to see more of their ads on web pages, they’ll have to start being more clever about how they ruin the internet.