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Friday, October 2, 2015

Apple's ad-blocking and obnoxious ads

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

The decision by Apple to allow ad-blocking in the new iOS has stirred a lot of debate and controversy, and it is going to be interesting as it plays out - especially since smartphones account for a huge and increasing percentage of web traffic.

Folks who design banner ads could have avoided this by being less intrusive. When the page becomes unusable because a video plays complete with booming sound, it is very frustrating. That is even worse when you have multiple tabs open and have no idea where the annoying sound is coming from. The Herald-Times, for example, is especially obnoxious with ads. I have clicked on an ad by accident a number of times as the banner ad at the top of the page explodes to fill the entire screen. This is one thing on a free website, but you cannot read the H-T website at all without having a paid subscription of nine dollars per month.

But for websites that rely on ad revenue to keep going, this is problematic. Newspapers get money from both their advertisers and subscribers, but "free" websites rely almost entirely on ads. Increasing ad-blocking may wind up making more sites go to a subscription service instead of a "free" model - if they can stay in business at all. But the fact that this is a popular and desired feature should say something to the advertisers. I am not sure why huge popovers are popular with advertisers. I cannot imagine people actually buy things when they are forcibly redirected to an advertiser's site.

It seems like there should be a good middle ground here. Ultimately, there probably will be as people who program the ads will find ways to defeat Apple's software.

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