Opinion

Fighting back against the ‘heavy hand of ad blockers’

The thing that powers just about everything bad about online advertising is tracking, get rid of tracking and online advertising would instantly become a lot less horrible – claims Bob Hoffman

There are now over 600 million connected devices in the world sporting ad blockers

We are uncomfortable with the idea of ad blockers. As unrepentant ad people, we don’t like the idea. And yet, we use ad blockers.

According to PageFair there are now over 600 million connected devices in the world sporting ad blockers. In the US, it is estimated that about 25 per cent of desktop computers are now using ad blockers.

And according to published reports, Google is thinking about adding an ad blocking option to its Chrome browser, which is the most used browser in the world.

For now, the most popular defence against obnoxious online advertising is ad blocking. But ad blocking is a blunt instrument that has the potential to do serious damage to aspects of the web that we all enjoy.

Like it or not, advertising funds just about everything on the web we like. Without advertising, no YouTube, no Facebook.

It would be nice to believe that people would be willing to pay for things they enjoy online but most experiments in ‘paywall’ web publishing have been a failure.

So the question becomes, how can we encourage an acceptable version of online advertising that will allow us to enjoy the things we like about the web without the insufferable annoyance of the current online ad model?

The answer is not that complicated. The invisible hand that powers just about everything we hate about online advertising is tracking. Get rid of tracking and online advertising would instantly become a lot less horrible.

There is no reason why online advertising can’t be bought and sold on a similar basis to offline advertising – instead of on the current tracking/adtech model.

Online advertisers would then not be able to stalk us every where we went on the web; fake news would be less likely to draw ‘programmatically’ delivered advertising money; quality publishers would have a better chance at survival; the economic incentive for click bait would diminish, and a great many other undesirable aspects of web world would be greatly minimised.

We could enjoy what we like about the web without having to resort to the heavy hand of ad blockers.

Bob Hoffman has been the CEO of two independent agencies and is the author of the Ad Contrarian blog

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