Advertising – to block or not to block? (Poll)

Security & Privacy

I have become pretty immune to advertising on the net. The brain develops an algorithm to locate the relevant content and filter out the junk around it. Frankly speaking, ask me about what ads there were on the page I just visited, and I have no clue. And I believe that’s true for many of us. Except that our internal ad-blockers aren’t perfect. The advertising may still affect us unconsciously.

This issue has been in the headlines a lot since Apple introduced a simple way to implement ad-blocking on iPhones and iPads. Many took advantage of the opportunity and released new tools, among them the excellent F-Secure ADBLOCKER. And many media providers got upset as this development will no doubt increase the usage of ad blocking, and thus reduce advertising revenues. Some newspapers are already attempting to prevent users with ad-blockers from using their site at all. And some publishers admit that advertising has gone too far and they had it coming.

So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of advertising. First the pros.

  • Advertisers pay for your “free” stuff. It makes it possible to get a lot of excellent services and content without paying money. Instead you pay by exposing yourself to ads and letting companies profile you for targeted advertising.
  • Some may actually find ads, especially well targeted ads, useful. They may contain special offers and campaign codes that are of true value to you.
  • Advertising can be entertaining.

And then the longer list, the cons.

  • Advertising often disturbs your user experience. You have to locate the beef among glossy blinking ads. And you may even have to dodge pop-ups to actually see your content.
  • Advertising may lure you to make more, often unnecessary, purchases. That’s basically the objective of advertising.
  • Advertising often tries to trick you into opening the advertiser’s site. For example by mimicking a Next- or Download- button in the ad.
  • Advertising may show content that is unsuitable for the viewer.
  • Advertising can be a way to deliver malware. Ads are delivered from separate servers. A compromised ad server may show infected ads on sites with a good reputation. I.e. in places where you don’t expect to run into malware.
  • Advertising will consume bandwidth and make pages load more slowly. This can cost you real money depending on your data plan.
  • Advertising is the main reason to track you. Many companies attempt to profile you as accurately as possible to make targeted advertising more effective. Good targeted advertising may not be evil in itself, but misuse of the collected data is a real threat.

It seems likes the cons win hands-down. But there is one argument in favor of advertisement that deserves some more attention. The publishers who take an aggressive approach against ad-blocking typically say that blocking ads is like taking a free ride. You try to benefit from free content without paying the price. And this is an argument that can’t be dismissed just like that. Remember that advertising is the engine for a significant part of the net. Imagine that 100% of the users would use 100% effective ad-blockers. What would our virtual world look like in that case? I don’t know, but it would definitively be a different world. But on the other hand, it’s easy to find sites where advertising definitively has gone overboard. So it is understandable if the advertisers receive little sympathy for their fight against ad-blocking.

This is yet another question without any clear and simple answers. So let’s pass it to you, dear readers. What do you think about advertising on the web?

 

Pro ad article with ad
Article trying to defend advertising. The beef is there under the ad. 😉

 

Safe surfing,
Micke

 

Image: iPhone and http://www.streamingmedia.com screenshots

 

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