The Extra Dimension

The Extra Dimension features deep discussions on how technology intersects with society. 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



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