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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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!