The Extra Dimension

The Extra Dimension features deep discussions on how technology intersects with other parts of our lives. Welcome to the heart of the technological convergence.

The Complex World of Ad Blocking

Episode #11The Fringe #377

Ian R Buck and Ryan Rampersad discuss the complex world of advertising and ad blocking.

Episode Summary

01:10 | Why do ads exist?

  • To keep content free
  • Free is especially important on the web, because sharing stuff on social media is where the majority of traffic comes from; if your site has a paywall, you are missing out on a ton of readers

04:08 | Problems with ads

  • Inverts the customer: The consumer is no longer the customer, and the content is no longer the product; the product is the consumer’s attention, and the advertisers are the customers
  • Ad networks have to gather as much information on a person as possible so they can create targeted ads
  • Resort to obtrusive methods to get the reader’s attention
    • Pop-ups
    • Pop-unders
    • Huge banners
  • Resort to deceitful methods to get clicks
    • “Download now!”
    • “Your computer is at risk!”
    • Ads that are meant to look like part of the page

13:46 | Adblocking

  • Filter out ads before they load
  • Usually a browser extension/app
  • Sometimes present themselves as reading apps (Readability, Pocket)

15:47 | Problems with ad blocking

  • Contributes to a cycle of advertisers trying to find ways to get around it, making more intrusive ads
    • Technological solutions to disguise ads from blockers
    • “Native advertising”
  • Morally ambiguous
    • “Implied contract”
    • Some ad blockers accept money from advertisers to let their ads through

26:26 | Alternatives

  • Readability
    • Users pay a subscription for a product that strips away everything but the content, including formatting
  • Brave
    • Removes ads and trackers, replaces them with ads that do not track the user
    • Revenue from the new ads is shared between Brave, the publisher, and the user
  • RSS
    • Most feeds do not include ads
    • Publishers choose what to put in the feeds, so this doesn’t have moral issues



The Extra Dimension is released under a Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International license. Feel free to use any or all of it as long as you link back to