Ad Blocking

from Seth Godin

By most accounts, more and more people are automatically blocking the ads in their browser.

Of course, people have been blocking ads forever. By ignoring them.

Fifteen years ago, when I began writing about Permission Marketing, I pointed out that when ads are optional, it’s only anticipated, personal and relevant ones that will pay off.

And advertisers have had fifteen years to show self restraint. They’ve had the chance to not secretly track people, set cookies for their own benefit, insert popunders and popovers and poparounds, and mostly, deliver us ads we actually want to see.

Alas, it was probably too much to ask. And so, in the face of a relentless race to the bottom, users are taking control, using a sledgehammer to block them all. It’s not easy to develop a white list, not easy to create an ad blocker that is smart enough to merely block the selfish and annoying ads. And so, just as the default for some advertisers is, “if it’s not against the law and it’s cheap, do it,” the new generation of ad blockers is starting from the place of, “delete all.”

Ad blockers undermine a fundamental principle of media, one that goes back a hundred years: Free content in exchange for attention. The thing is, the FCC kept the ad part in check with TV, and paper costs did the same thing for magazines and newspapers. But on the web, more and more people have come to believe that the deal doesn’t work, and so they’re unilaterally abrogating it. They don’t miss the ads, and they don’t miss the snooping of their data.

More here.

Posted in Innovation, Web and tagged , , .


  1. As a generation brought up by the internet, I think we’ve become numb to online social advertisements, and that’s why many people turn to the use of Ad-blockers. I myself use AdBlock Plus on my home computer as well as my laptop, and I’m still counting down the days where AdBlock becomes available for mobile devices. I believe the AdBlock movement stemmed from users wanting to control their media intake, and I stand behind that. There have been countless studies on the affects of social media on our minds related to screen time per day, yet there aren’t as many studies on the affects of advertisements we see during that time. For example, most people today can go to Google, type in jump ropes, and not 15 mins later they’d start receiving ads on sperate aps/websites from Amazon. This type of advertisement seems like a great idea for marketers; they searched for jump ropes, so they must be the best person to market them to. In theory, they’d be correct, but it has come to a point where the users minds are being overstimulated by these ads, making them overall, less affective.
    Proper marketing is key for large corporations to stay in business, but what is the limit to the marketing? And example of bad overstimulation through marketing are the ads run on YouTube videos. Whenever people have any issues, their go-to fix is to look up a video on YouTube, yet when they find a video, they must sit through an ad before the video begins, as well as ads in the middle of the video. The internet has come to a point where in order to view information we search for, we must forcibly sit through marketing attempts by companies that might not even interest us. The resolution for users: AdBlock. This finally gives users a way to limit these advertisements, and this article does a fantastic job of explaining how to build the fundamental advertising techniques. Have a well-designed product, work hard to communicate with users by earning the privilege to contact them, and realizing when the spread of too much data can be harmful to the product/service.
    It’s sad to realize media companies and smartphone aps rely on advertisers in order to stay afloat, and I believe that is the biggest issue our community faces today. We would love to limit what we see, just like how we can limit what we eat or limit screen time in general, yet there are still hurdles to jump through. In order to have less ads, the web services we use must be able to support themselves (and make a profit) WITHOUT the use of so many advertisers. Whether your advertising is top-notch or the worst advertisement in history, have a good product will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether or not people buy the good/service. Obviously, the marketing and advertising world are what drive culture and cultivate ideas, but allowing users to take more control over what they see will most likely HELP in the fight against over-advertisement.

  2. There’s no denying that as we progress further into the technology era, marketing has become more complex than ever before. To my experience, telemarketers are falling off the wagon because people really get frustrated and just do not want to be bothered by people trying to sell them something. However, marketing for all types of companies are going to start to struggle because of this new concept of seeking ways to avoid and ‘delete’ ads altogether. I think that this new way of blocking ads for good is going to have a tremendous impact on the sales, and revenue for a vast majority of companies. I like how in the article it states “Making products for your customers is far more efficient than finding customers for your products.” If you think about many companies that try to find customers that will suit their product best, but this is not the most efficient way to go about this. A smarter approach to this would be setting up an emailing list for your customers and informing them of upcoming products that will be released ahead of time.
    This will not only create anticipation for the release but also allow you to target your audience better and increase the probability that the people that received your informative email will buy the product. By using the email list approach, you are finding your niche or specific audience that sees your previous products attractive. On the other note, I think everyone can relate to being bombarded by annoying ads that clutter your screen when trying to research something for an assignment, which may distract you and resulting in a reduction in productivity. I know I have been a victim of ads distracting me while trying to do something important. I also never really knew how to block or delete those ads from showing up on my screen ever again. After reading this article, we may now have a new way to once and for all block the annoying ads that we have always wanted to. This could mean absolute chaos for companies that refuse to adapt to this change.

  3. The traditional form of advertising has mostly been through mediums like newspapers and television advertisments, but with the creation of the world wide web a lot of advertisers were left wondering what this future would look like. Years later I’m sure they didn’t expect the industry to look the way it does now. Influencer marketing, cross sponsorship and SEO. At my initial use of the internet around 2007, I remember seeing splash ads saturated all over the page making it almost unusable. That was the early nature of the internet. The logic was simple, websites would get paid for ads by companies so naturally a website would try to get as much money as possible. But, with adblockers becoming popular all over the internet, it became increasingly harder for websites to generate money through those traditional ads. After all imagine reading a newspaper with that same product placement filling half the page making text unreadable. Advertisers are now looking for more effective ways of promotion. One of the most common now is SEO, where keywords are used to best connect consumers with products on search engines.
    Another is influencer marketing which is now very prevalent on social media sites like Instagram and Twitter. Companies will pay pages to promote a product through either a repost or original content. However, I would argue that these practices have always been used by advertising companies, but now there is a huge push for it. In the past celebrities have been paid to advertise by use of their likeness through sponsorships. Yet, the push towards influencer marketing is huge now. Agencies are being created for the sole purpose of connecting companies with online personalities. The use of this type of marketing solves the major issue that was discussed before with Ad blockers. The main concern with Ad Block is that the content creators and websites don’t make any revenue if their ads are unable to be shown and in addition the companies can’t get users to see the content they are paying to promote. Influencer marketing seeks to solve this issue very efficiently. With product promotion being embedded in the content, if the consumer wants to watch the video or view a person’s page they will ultimately see the placement. In a lot of ways these techniques have solved issues and allowed for content creators to grow utilizing their following. In addition, the placements are more likely to work because creators often have loyalty amongst followers and sponsorships allow for consumers to associate products with a likeness or lifestyle. Overall I am not surprised with the transition that has been made by companies because the numbers don’t lie. I stumbled across an article on Yahoo Finance the other day stating that influencer marketing could become a $10 billion industry and I am not at all surprised that this new form of marketing will prevail for the following year.

  4. Ad blocking is something that I always do whenever I go on the internet. There are always a couple of ad popups or side bars that are advertising something for me to buy. Almost always I block them because I do not need to be distracted when on the internet. It is not because I do not like what I see. I ad-block because I just do not have time to be distracted or delayed. Every time I watch YouTube, I always must watch 5 seconds of some random ad or answer a survey. Both of these are time-consuming and utter waste of my time. Ad blocking seems to stop these time wasteful ads from my screen.

    Another reason that Seth brings up in his blog that explains the use of ad blocking, is the data invasion. If I see an ad and click on it, then I just gave data to the company. Companies like Facebook make millions of dollars a year by saving people’s data and selling it to these advertising companies. I never see a penny of the millions of dollars made off of my data. Ad blocking prevents or at least slows down how effectively companies like Facebook can steal and sell my data to make a quick buck.

    In all, I see how ad blocking can hurt the economy. Companies pay websites to advertise their products and sometimes that costs companies a lot of money. When I ad block, I am telling those companies that they wasted their money because I am not even going to give them a chance for me to buy their product. There are still ads on TV and the newspaper, so why do viewers get to block ads on the internet. I spent more time watching commercials on television than I spent distracted by an ad on a website. Also, ad blocking prevents data collections, which creates millions of dollars in sales. It may not be ethical, but it makes the economy healthier. Overall, Ad blocking is making companies waste and lose their money and those companies need to wake up.

  5. Most of the time I see ads on the web, it makes me dislike the company for wasting my time. For as long as I can remember, ads have been everywhere on the internet. Advertising this way is just the worse way to market. Nobody likes them, and there’s not a lot we can do about it. I like what Seth said about people always have been blocking ads by just ignoring them. The key to ads is keeping them short and to the point. I don’t mind when I see an ad or two pop up that don’t get in my way too much. Especially when they get the point across as simple and easy as possible. Those are the type off ads I can live with it.
    I think YouTube screwed big time with what they’re doing now. Instead of showing a video, they give you some products, and let vote for your favorite. This is seriously bad, because people aren’t even going to bother and waste their time looking at the options. Their going to choose a random one without even reading which gives businesses false reviews. I mean that’s what I do at least. Ads are almost like game to people. The game is to show how avoidable you can be when they come up.
    Advertising, if done correctly, can really work. One of the best ways is hearing someone talk to you about their idea. Another tactic is knowing the audience. If you advertise walking canes, that cuts out so much of the population. The best entrepreneurs create products that can relate to everyone. They see a major problem among most people and find an idea to fix it that works for everyone. Ads in my opinion just need to go away, because chances are its not a new product, and it probably doesn’t relate to me in anyway. For example, say I see a soda ad, is that ad really going to change my opinion about buying a soda. If I want a soda, I know I’m able to physically get whenever I want. Ads like these are just a complete waste of time.

  6. In my opinion, ads on the internet violate so many privacy laws. I think ad blocking would be great to do however, not all websites allow this feature. One of the most common websites like YouTube purposely shows ads on videos of Youtubers who are “partnered” and gain money from the views. Personally, I find this sense of marketing quite annoying and ridiculous. Sometimes companies, like Spotify, play ads frequently so the user gets annoyed and eventually pays for the subscription! These companies purposely use ads to benefit themselves and annoy consumers.

    I find it creepy how ad’s literally can follow your recent purchases or likes based on previous searches on other websites. One time when I was on, an ad from Amazon came up for these shoes I purchased from that website. In a way I felt completely violated! However, it seems that this is normal and happens to everyone. My uncle once told me that companies track our purchases in order to use them for consumers to keep purchasing similar items on their websites! I don’t find that hard to believe!

    It seems as if ad blocking will provoke companies and it will cause marketing to decrease. Although it was mentioned in the article that ads are not the primary source of advertising, majority of the world uses the internet. Therefore, it seems that a huge loss would still occur regardless of it being the main source. However, I do think for the average consumer, ad blocking would be great. However, I believe certain ads like magazines are totally fine! In paper subscription magazines seem fine because consumers sign up for them. We shouldn’t be forced to see ads if we don’t want too. Our shopping history should be private! Companies should not have the right to go through our recent purchases.

  7. I personally am an avid adblock user. My days forced into watching television advertisements are over and controlling the content I see is far more important to me. In today’s age, advertising to users has become increasingly difficult with less people using cable, and more people streaming Netflix, where the only ads you see are sponsors integrated in the show or movie. The truth of digital media is advertisements are unwanted and forced into our attention, and for the most part, nobody really cares about a majority of the advertisements we come to watch. I believe all people have the right to use adblock, especially when so many scummy sites have manipulative advertisements saying your computer has a virus or you won a free iPad.
    I also find advertisements that use cookies to be creepy. I think seeing an advertisement on a site you’ve never been on for shoes you looked at a week ago actually turns the consumer off of buying the product. Advertisements rely on forced repetition to manipulate you into wanting a product, when the reality is, you would forget about the item in a week and never utilize it anyways.
    Ironically enough, I am a marketing major and I find it conflicting in how companies practically prey on consumers and follow their digital footsteps. I don’t think adblock should be an ethical dilemma, but perhaps online advertising needs to find new boundaries in stalking the consumer less. If there is a need for a product, google exists and allows the consumer to find it themselves.

  8. My mother is the co-founder of a small advertising agency, so I have grown up with a mother who would always watch commercials, and take pictures of billboards by the highway, so I understand why companies think they way they do when it comes to trying to push their product onto consumers. These companies have had to change the way the market their products along with the advancements in technology, younger generations are often glued to their phones for four or more hours each day, so what better place for a company to reach a young individual than through their phone.
    Even though, I still do have adblockers on my browser, when scrolling through YouTube or any social media, I despise being bugged by 15 to 30 second ads that take me away from what I was doing. They can be distracting and nowadays way overused, I will see a certain ad on YouTube 3 to 5 times in a week, and it will become repetitive, and honestly push me further away from purchasing that companies product. I also never allow cookies when I am viewing a website, because that gives these companies free will to have ads pop up on the sides of my browser for something I wanted to buy weeks ago. Younger generations get upset at the idea of advertisement, and they get turned away more from companies that are trying to push product down their throats rather than a brand that lets their consumers come to them because of the product they sell. People feel as if their privacy is being stripped from them by some of these creeping companies, after you like a picture on a companies social media account of their product, you can open a new browser, and they next ad you see will often times be for the same product you just like the picture of, and that scares a lot of consumers away from not just that single product but going online at all.
    A new way I think brands can begin advertising and marketing better is to have these younger generations begin following their social media accounts, and offer deals on Twitter and Instagram, rather than just randomly popping up on their screen, and pushing the consumer away. In the long run of things I think their needs to be more online regulations placed on companies and how they can advertise on the Internet, because most consumers will continue blocking them until there is a change.

  9. I have always been skeptical about the value of advertisements, particularly over the internet. I cannot think of an instance where an advertisement I found on the side of a web page, or at the beginning of a video, influenced me to purchase a product or become more loyal to a brand. Still, companies invest billions of dollars into researching for, and producing, advertisements every year, so clearly there is some benefit. However, many of the ads displayed online are extremely invasive. Some of these ads take up the entire screen when your first open a site, while others start automatically playing a video at the highest volume, and are hidden at the bottom of the screen so you have to scroll through the page to turn it off. These ads are a major nuisance, and I would imagine make people associate negative emotions with that product or brand. To counteract this, the article discusses the growing popularity of ad blockers.

    Ad blockers prevent these irritating ads from interfering with your web browsing, but as the article mentions, these ad blockers have limitations because they only offer blanket prevention, so ads that someone might actually like will also be blocked. Hopefully, this would serve as a wake up call for advertisers that their current practices are unacceptable to many internet users. I do agree with the author’s assessment that the best way to market a product is to create a quality product. When a product stands out against the competition, people will be more likely to purchase it, and if customers are satisfied with their purchase, they will recommend it to their friends and family. Focusing on quality allows consumers to see the value in the product without intrusive reminders every time they are trying to surf the web in their free time.

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