Do You Feel Guilty For Using Ad Blockers? You Shouldn't

They compare you to a pirate. They say you are a thief. That you are making the whole internet collapse. The fact that they have transformed their webpages into advertising collections filled with click-baiting titles seems not to be a problem for them. However, here there is a small list of points that should explain why people use ad blockers.

User Experience

I want to start with an aspect that people rarely consider. In a page full of non-relevant information, it is difficult to find what you are looking for. Even if the banner blindness exists, having bright color images and blinking texts all around (and sometimes inside) the content you are trying to read is surely distracting.

Placing banners everywhere makes me think that you are not interested whether I read your content or not. You just want to have the money my visit generates. So it's not important for you if the user experience is poor. The only things that matter are the impressions.

Traffic And Speed

Of course displaying ads means that you have download them, slowing down the loading of the page and consuming band. The balance between the content and the advertising varies from page to page but I've seen pages where it's close to fifty-fifty.

Speaking about mobile devices, having to load all the banners impacts on traffic plans and on memory consumption. On these devices, that usually have a smaller amount of RAM compared to desktop PCs, a webpage with tons of ads can make the browser crash, making it impossible for the user to read the content.

Security

Almost every Adobe Flash breach in the last months has been exploited through banners published also on legitimate websites. This is because ads are managed by third party companies that, if hacked, can spread malware through millions of respectable sites.

Privacy

Guess what? Banners are also used for tracking you. As said in the previous point, third party companies that manage the internet advertising serve a large amount of different sites, so they can record the pages you visited and the articles you read. Google, Facebook and the NSA are not the only big boys in town.

My Choices

Mozilla Firefox (on both desktop and mobile versions) provide a really useful feature that works well with many sites. It is called Reader View and it's represented by an open book on the address bar. By pressing it, the text is extracted from the page you are reading and it's presented without all the surrounding elements: menus, comments, and, of course, ads. This fixes the user experience part but the other points are still open.

While on smartphone and tabled I use uBlock Origin, for desktop browsers I've made a different choice. I've decided that after all, I can afford some ads in the sites I visit, provided that they are not tracking me. For this reason I've installed Privacy Badger, a plugin created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation based on the popular AdBlock Plus. According to the FAQs:

Privacy Badger is a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what pages you look at on the web. If an advertiser seems to be tracking you across multiple websites without your permission, Privacy Badger automatically blocks that advertiser from loading any more content in your browser.

As you can see, it does something more than blocking ads but this is material for another post.

Conclusions

Now it should be clear enough why ad blockers are widely used. I just want to close this post with a quote (taken from here) by M. Lawrence Light, former Chief Marketing Officer of McDonalds:

It no longer makes economic sense to send an advertising message to the many in hopes of persuading the few.


Cover image taken from Pixabay licensed under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license.

Luca Sommacal

Luca Sommacal

Italian developer (mainly in C for embedded platforms), Linux learner, addicted to rock music, history, science and few other things. Follow me on Twitter

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