The Extra Dimension

The Extra Dimension features deep discussions on exciting topics with your favorite hosts and guests.

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.


  • 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