Is Ad Blocking Evil? Why You Should Not Block Web Adverts

For some reason there seems to be a lot of advice these days on Ab Blocking. Most browsers allow users to install add-on functionality, and one such function is a piece of software that will stop adverts from showing on a website that you visit.

Why would you do this? That is a very good question, one that I still cannot see any logical answer for. So lets look at the stupid arguments put forward by the so called web security experts.

Lame Reasons To Block Adverts

1. To prevent pop-ups

OK, pop-ups are a little annoying, but you can switch this off in a browser without installing extra software. Firefox will ask you the first time a website wants to do a pop-up, and you can opt to always allow them, allow them today or block (or is it just block today?).

The problem is that many websites have pop-ups built in. Some forms will fail, sites that open additional pages to explain features will fail.

2. Ads Deposit Tracking Objects and Cookies the Compromise Your Security

This is the most common reason. To the average user this does sound bad. “You mean, a website will leave a cookie on my computer, it is installing evil code?”. Um, no. The tracking objects and cookies that are installed are to allow advert vendors (businesses promoting products) to know when an advert publisher has displayed an advert to a particular person.

For example, if you Google “what is the best fish soup recipe” you will no doubt come across a website. On that website you may see an advert for beautifully crafted stainless steel pots that are ideal for making soup. You click that advert and appear on a page. You think about buying, but need to wait until you get paid in 2 weeks before placing the order. 2 weeks later you go back and buy the pan.

So why the cookie / tracking code? Well, the owner of the website that has provided you with a free fish soup recipe (not any free soup recipe, the best one!) is partnered with the business that sells pans. They probably receive a commission on the pans sold, so if you buy the pan for £50.00 they may receive about £2.50 commission on that.

The little innocent, harmless cookie on your PC tells the pan seller that you originally found out about the pans on the recipe website, so they know to send a commission payment. This is how commission based affiliate advert often works. This is what powers a free Internet.

If everyone blocked adverts, the recipe website would not make any money, and have to close down. No more free recipes for you!

3. Some Advertisements are Hacked to Serve as Trojans!

OK, it is possible. But if a webmaster is displaying adverts on his site that can be hacked to download Trojans and other malware onto your PC, then it is likely that the whole website is pretty suspect. Blocking the adverts will not stop these Trojans getting through. And this probably only accounts for a tiny fraction of sites you will ever visit.

Why You Should Allow Adverts

Some people have a dream of a free Internet. But, like all things, someone has to pay for it. There may be a free health service in the UK, but you pay tax to get it.

Every website the provides a service needs to at minimum cover its running costs. Many websites are businesses which use advertising to generate revenue. If you buy a magazine or newspaper from a newsagents you will see A LOT of adverts. Probably far more than you see in any individual website.

If you think that these magazine survive by charging readers a few pounds to read them then you are very mistaken. Media businesses fail because they lose advertising clients.

Websites are really the same. If a business, or often a family run site, makes its living by selling advertising space and providing you with free information, news and opinion, then everyone starts blocking those adverts, what do you think happens to that family business?

Ad Blocking is Evil

In my opinion, which is matched by others, ad blocking is an evil practice. And person that runs ad blocking software on their PC is essentially trying to cheat their way to obtaining free information. It is like walking into a newsagents and asking the shopkeeper to tear out all the adverts before selling you the magazine. Or closing your eyes while driving along the motorway to avoid looking at billboards.

The Internet is a global media machine that largely relies on advertising to keep running. If you want it to stay free, don’t block ads.

PS. If there are any ad blocking adverts shown on this site it is because Google Adwords clients are targeting these keywords. Feel free to let me know in the comments and I will, um, block them…….

4 Comments on “Is Ad Blocking Evil? Why You Should Not Block Web Adverts”

  1. well…. yes and no. Why do some people use ad blockers (I dont but sometimes I wish I did)? because there is an ad in the corner of the website? because there are adverts at the top, or bottom, or right or left side of the page? NO, some people use advert blockers because advertisers ABUSE. Don’t forget that the final user needs as much protection as the business. I agree, advertising is good, it’s the driver of mass communication in our western society, but while other forms of mass communication (say television) are highly regulated in most countries by governmental agencies (including and even especially, advertising), there is a lack of international legislation for the internet. so, advertisers abuse. So what is the best remedy against ad blocking? RESPONSIBLE ADVERTISERS. Nobody wants pop ups, or flash animations or heavy videos that slow down their computers or animations that just happen to pop up when one is trying to click on something, or tracking cookies (SHOULD be made illegal, no doubt and there is no justification for them). There are lots of responsible advertisers that are justly angry at ad blockers, of course. The just are paying for the sinners. Regulate, establish clear rules and advert blockers will be a thing of the past. There won’t be necessary as they aren’t necessary for tv or magazines.
    Is it evil or immoral? well, not really. not more than changing the channel during the commercial break or fast forward the adverts if I recorded a show. It is (or it should be) a free country and while advertisers pay money HOPING that people will look at their adverts, they CANNOT force them to. It should be the rule of the game. If they use tricks to try to force you to look at their advert, then ad blocking is what they deserve.
    There has been a lot of talking about how ad blocking will kill this internet model. Then do something about it, don’t blame the user. THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE USER SHOULD BE AN INPUT BASED ON WHICH THE MODEL SHOULD BE BUILT, NOT SOMETHING THAT THE BUSINESSES HAVE THE RIGHT TO MODIFY. If the final users (the final destinatary of the internet or any model) are acting in a way, react by modifying YOUR own behaviour to best fit their behaviour and needs and therefore be best suited to make money out of it, DONT BLAME THEM. If we want users to go to the internet and use websites, we need to give them guarantees. The guarantee that some things will not happen. When we watch tv we know that we can only expect a certain amount of advertisment for every hour of programming and that no advert will block the whole screen making us lose part of the show or there will be no voice over while the star of the show is speaking. That is regulated by the government (in most occidental countries). Same should go for the internet. I should be able to go to Myspace with the guarantee that a heavy video (usually a trailer of the last idiotic movie) will NOT start to play automatically, which significantly slows down my computer.
    I will answer saying that what’s really “evil” is to try to make money using tactics that violate individual freedom and privacy.
    The internet is (so far) the greatest invention of the 21st century. Dont kill it. Use it responsibly and everybody will enjoy it (and make money from it). Abuse it, and nobody will. It has happened before with other things. It’s called being human, that’s why we need restrictions.
    By the way, free internet? I (HAPPILY!!!!) pay 90 quid a month. Why should internet be free?

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