What to Make of AdBlock?

AdBlock

For this final blog post, concluding my reflections on social media for #IS6621 Social Media and Web 2.0 for Managers, I plan to write a short exposition on AdBlock and then discuss some very tangible takeaways from my time on Twitter, in-class discussions and reading some very incredible blogs from the semester.

As my small group can contest – and any people who force me to sit through a YouTube ad – I swear by AdBlock. When I asked my friend who introduced it to me why I should use it, he said: “why wouldn’t you?” I completely agree, and I’ll explain why.

But first, what is AdBlock? AdBlock filters content and advertising through a extension available on Google Chrome, Apple Safar, Mozilla Firefox and Opera internet browsers.AdBlock is one of several similar advertising filtering extensions (AdBlock Plus is a notable rival). The kicker? It’s free. The browser extension merely asks for a charitable donation of any amount you desire to pay. Anytime you visit a website, the extension works to hide any banners, pop-ups or otherwise intrusive ads. One of the most popular extensions across all available platforms, AdBlock has over 30 million users. These users can choose to allow ads to be displayed on a website.

Users can filter websites to show ads.

Users can filter websites to show ads.

Benefits

Clean

The biggest advantage from a user perspective is, in this user’s opinion, the clean webpage that is delivered free of ads. So why is this such a showstopper? It improves any user interface immensely, removing distracting or annoying ads. With no ads to process, the speed of the browser is enhanced, further improving the user experience. Lastly, a clean webpage allows the content of the page to come across seamlessly and without any sort of excuse for not delivering a message. Clearly, while this benefit is most evident from the user perspective, there are positive takeaways for websites as well. Removing obtrusive ads can help to build website equity.

Malware

A less obvious advantage of AdBlock is the increased security resulting from potentially harmful malware and adware sources being blocked. While this may not be the primary function of the extension, it certainly should be noted as a key benefit.

Advertiser Benefits

While I’ve mainly discussed the benefits from the perspective of a user or a website, there is one advantage of utilizing this tool to advertisers. If I see a popup ad for Best Buy or Samsung’s new smartphone, I – like many other consumers, I assume – would be a little annoyed. This could lead to a potential loss of brand equity, which is one of the most valuable resources a firm can leverage. If I do not see any ads deemed interfering, my image of that firm will remain unaffected.

Controversy

There is, no doubt, a vast controversy surrounding the use of the AdBlock tool. AdBlock and the like are a threat to the digital advertising industry. It prohibits YouTube users from profiting on ads on their channels. It makes Pandora completely ad free – essentially eliminating any added benefit from Pandora One. AdBlock does not distinguish between ads, everything is blocked – even ads that might be considered more acceptable from a user point of view. Such controversy has actually led to some publishers looking to sue AdBlock Plus as some websites could potentially lose their ability to sustain themselves. I personally use the device for functionality, not a moral stand. But with the full side-effects considered, what are your thoughts?

Business Value

So why am I talking about an extension that removes ads from a website? How does this relate to social media? My big managerial takeaway is that tools like this will force advertisers to become more creative in order to reach consumers. This will provide opportunities for native marketing, mobile advertising and methods of reaching the consumer through non-browser based advertising (see Spotify).

Snapchat provides an alternative avenue for advertisers to reach consumers.

Snapchat provides an alternative avenue for advertisers to reach consumers.

End of the Year Reflections

At the start of the year, I sought out to achieve a few simple goals. I wanted to explore my information systems concentration, and through the developed understanding of social media and its use within the corporate world, I can successfully say my passion for technology has been appeased. Speaking of appetites, I must say the snacks were a tasty addition to the course!  But in all seriousness, it was an incredible insightful few months for me. I felt like the excellence of all my classmates helped to kickstart my own. And I look forward to following the #IS6621 for a long time to come!

Additional sources:

https://getadblock.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdBlock

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_filtering

 

 

7 comments

  1. Great stuff per usual.. Interesting take on the positive side of AdBlock from the advertiser’s perspective. I guess I do subconsciously judge an established brand in a negative light when I see their logo in a “spammy” advertisement spot. I’ve recently seen BC Athletics ads popping up on random websites and I’m now realizing that I usually view them thinking, “They’re above that.” The same can definitely be said for a brand like Best Buy or Samsung.

    I knew of AdBlock but am now aware of some more benefits of it from a browsing perspective. Although I also see the controversy behind it and the negative effect on those who rely on Ad revenue, adapt or die i guess. I think I’m going to give it a shot and see how much I notice the difference.

  2. Very engaging idea here, Dan. I would consider myself pretty easy going and flexible, so I’ve come to just kind of accept that there are going to be ads on the page, and I’ve learned to tune them out. Call me crazy, but maybe some day, this will actually be an important skill to have when advertisers are flashing ads literally right in front of our eyes when everyone is wearing Google Glass or something.

    But in complete seriousness, I do agree with you that this kind of thing does push advertisers to their limits and keep them on their toes, which in itself is a double edged sword for the consumer. Sure, we’re seeing new and exciting ads as a result, but now an even GREATER chunk of our life’s real estate is being taken up by ads, which is exactly what we you are trying to avoid in the first place, right? Quite the paradox.

    In any case, great last post!

  3. I, too, am an avid AdBlock user and have been for years. Personally, I prefer the minimalist feel of reading articles rather than getting bombarded by the same Zappos shoes I just looked at 2 minutes ago. What fascinates me about ABP, though, is the fact that it is an extension that is available, for free, in the Chrome store. Think about that for a second. Google makes the lion’s share of it’s money on advertising. They own YouTube which does the same. They own the most widely used browser among young adults. But still they approve this extension to block all ads, including the ones on their sites, essentially taking money out of their own pocket.

    Surely, Google isn’t sweating the revenue lost from a few pop-ups. But then again, ABP still isn’t that widely used. Google can ignore it now, but if this becomes more and more prevalent, and advertisers start taking notice, I think it would be pretty easy for Google to shut down (in Chrome at least). We’ll see. But in the meantime, I’m comfortable saying that browsing YouTube without annoying pre-roll ads for the last few years has made my life markedly better. Long live innovation!

  4. Nice post. I’m also an Ad Block user, and I’ve become so used to seeing pages without ads that I’ve forgotten that these things do exist. I do feel somewhat guilty about using AdBlock on websites that are supporting themselves off of ad revenue, but unfortunately for them, I don’t feel bad enough to uninstall.
    I think a lot of good points have been brought up in the comments. Pat’s point about AdBlocker creating this double-edged sword dilemma. Do I want advertisers finding their way into other aspects of my life? In some respects, I find it all very interesting. For example – outside of the usual sponsored Snap Stories, the Dragon Age story immediately caught my attention. Although I didn’t watch the story, it still had me thinking about the subject, and it got people in our class talking about it too. Moreover, it was ultimately not very intrusive. You could choose whether or not you wanted to engage with it. (another benefit of Snapchat!)
    I thought Michael also brought up a good point that I hadn’t thought about regarding ABP as a Chrome Extension! I hadn’t thought about it before, but this seems almost criminal… Although, being able to control my browsing experience (to a certain extent) is rather important to me. Just some things to think about! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Good blog. I just downloaded Ad Blocker and am ready to try it out. I’m happy you arrived at a conclusion surrounding the need for brand creativity through native advertising. There have been some great blogs that last couple of weeks about the awesome work many companies are doing on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram by providing genuinely fun and engaging content. However, this seems to be an issue that specific services like YouTube and Pandora need to solve. It could certainly be argued that videos before YouTube ads and Pandora commercials are forms of native advertising.

  6. I’ve never realized the “advertiser benefit” of making their brand less of a nuisance because of Adblock. And it really does encourage more creativity in marketing campaigns would it? Even without Adblock, I would argue that browser ads are far inferior compared to those campaigns that are creatively executed. Adblock is really doing a service for the public and advertisers to reduce annoyance in the internet. However, there are websites out there who derives revenue solely from banner ads, and I’ve realized that they would have a built-in prompt for users to “turn adblock off” if we are to carry on.

    Among them are:
    http://kissanime.com/
    https://www.warlight.net/
    (Props to my little brother for pointing these out!)

    While advertisers can switch to social media campaigns, websites like these would be forced to change their revenue model. Unless such websites are valuable to its users, thus users would have to manually unblock elements on these sites. Perhaps Adblock could detect whether a website has an ad-based revenue model and prompt the user to make things simpler? Just my opinion.

    Anyways, this is a perfect tie-in to a great conclusion. Great post Dan!

  7. Great blog, Dan. I think you’re spot on that this sort of technology calls out the need for brands to focus more on native advertising strategies.. and as Michael commented, it’s so interesting that Google is willing to compromise on some of their ad profits by enabling ad blockers as a chrome extension. Denn made an interesting point on a twitter discussion that will we see such ad blockers coming into play with online tv as well? While writing the blog did you come across any research that suggests any drawbacks to ad block, or what sort of penetration does this tech have in the market?

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