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IAB Says Ad Blocking is a War on Diversity and Freedom of Expression

     
4:07 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The IAB's President and Chief Executive Officer, Randall Rothenberg, was pretty scathing in his remarks about Ad Blocking, and what he describes as ad-block profiteers in an opening keynote at the 2016 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting.

One of the ad block companies registered to attend the IAB conference, but, when discovred, the IAB cancelled their registration and returned their money. According to Rothernberg, "For the simple reason that they are stealing from publishers, subverting freedom of the press, operating a business model predicated on censorship of content, and ultimately forcing consumers to pay more money for less – and less diverse – information."

He went on to say, "This is what happens when your only motivation, your only metric, is money. For that is what AdBlock-Plus is: an old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in the flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism."

The ad-block profiteers are building for-profit companies whose business models are premised on impeding the movement of commercial, political, and public-service communication between and among producers and consumers. They offer to lift their toll gates for those wealthy enough to pay them off, or who submit to their demands that they constrict their freedom of speech to fit the shackles of their revenue schemes.


Read the full speech, it's worth it. [iab.com...]

On ad blokers, for those of us that are Publishers, we stand to lose, and us advertisers stand to lose, unless we pay to get through the ad blocking. It's a worrying trend, imho.

Earlier stories
Mobile giant Three to block online advertising [webmasterworld.com]
Google Boots Ad Blockers From Google Play [webmasterworld.com]
Ad blocker tracking script for Analytics + AdSense [webmasterworld.com]
IAB Initiative to Combat Ad Blocking: L.E.A.N [webmasterworld.com]
Report: Ad Blocking is Worth $22 Billion in Lost Revenue [webmasterworld.com]
IAB Closely Monitoring The Effects of Ad Blockers [webmasterworld.com]
5:11 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I am sure I lose money as well - that does not make it stealing.

The advertising industry are telling people off for being motivated by money? They all lead lives of monastic simplicity, no doubt.

He may have a point about Brave, but the Brave FAQ's seem to rebut it quite well:

[brave.com...]

In the meantime, I am using Firefox with Privacy Badger. The fact that a privacy protection blocker blocks most ads tells you what at least one of the problems is (and it is developed by a highly ethical non-profit that is no trying to extort money from anyone).
5:21 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think there's one more thing to add to the mix, and that is the over-the-top ads on some sites. These are created by ad people, and run by publishers. You know the ones i mean. You go to a site, you try to start reading, and an ad pushes the content off the screen, then, when the ad has run its course, the content then scrolls back. That is infuriating, and put me off sites like that. It's not helping the IAB or the publishers' case, imho.
5:38 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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That's a pretty bold statement by the IAB and being a publisher (and an advertiser), I understand and am sympathetic (and a little frustrated, yes). But I think ultimately the writing is on the wall for ad-financed content because the users are tired of overbearing ads and ad serving. The thing to do now is start thinking seriously of other ways we can make a living at this. We don't want to go the way of the newspaper / magazine industry, and wind up in the same situation, wondering where our piggy bank went.
6:26 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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You go to a site, you try to start reading, and an ad pushes the content off the screen, then, when the ad has run its course, the content then scrolls back.


I can only understand sites like that from a monetary perspective. They don't care about the user experience. They care about money. There is at least one MAJOR news site I will no longer visit for exactly this reason. Among other things, I'm fairly certain that this is a technique for allowing CPM ads to load in the background while the visitor is waiting for the obtrusive ad to load. Some site's do this several times while I'm trying to get to the article. This read-my-ads-first approach is not just greedy, it's also driving the ad-blocker industry so, once again greed is taking a chunk out of my pocket and the idiots who are cutting off everyone's nose will just keep doing until they've ruined Internet advertising for everyone.

Rant complete but not necessarily comprehensive!
7:07 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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All I hear is a shoe banging a tabletop.

LEAN stands for advertising and ad operations that are light, encrypted, AdChoices-supporting, and non-invasive. We believe LEAN will be as important to the future of the digital advertising industry...

...We firmly believe that a combination of LEAN advertising and media, and publisher implementation of detection-notice-choice-and-constraint, will limit the impact of ad-blocking.


So now that they are backed up against a wall they are proposing a double fist counter-attack consisting of less intrusive advertising and site-blocking scripts to foil adblockers. I doubt that will solve the ad blocking issue.

Ad Blockers will not allow their revenue stream to dry up, even if all publishers adopt LEAN. This isn't about good or bad advertising. It's about shaking down publishers and parasitic shakedowns never end. Which is why the IAB is absolutely wrong if they believe their LEAN scheme/Content-blocking approach alone is going to change anything. It's a naïve attempt at a solution.

It'll probably take legislation to criminalize ad blocking activities to slow the parasitic shakedown and the IAB did not mention that approach.
9:28 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Someone should remind IAB and their members of the expression "self inflicted wound".

Setting aside the AdBlocking software firms, and dealing entirely with the motivation of users?

Why do people install AdBlocking software? Some folks simply don't like advertisements - their AdBlocking loses no revenue except perhaps with CPM advertisements. Certainly they are never going to be buyers. No real loss there.

For mainstream people?

Like myself, they are thoroughly sick and tired of a plethora of advertisements across sites, many intrusive, some quite misleading. Publishers themselves are killing the Golden Goose by maxing out the number of Ads on their pages [so don't complain now], and advertising networks are culpable in allowing it to happen, along with the misleading, and the intrusive.

For the users? Wasn't the "User Experience" once paramount to Google? Not any more. As I said "self inflicted wound".
10:47 pm on Feb 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The vocabulary in this speech is thoroughly designed to incite "righteous anger", while completely avoiding any complicity in creating the antagonistic ad environment which created the ad blocking industry in the first place.
5:37 am on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Catching a few other reports here and there, some have taken the bait and run with it (censorship, killing diversity, rape, pillage and burn) and the absurdities grow. This kind of POLITICAL speak is what the mainstream media will pick up and never worry about the original WHY ad blockers came into being.

Meanwhile, ad blockers taking money to pass some ads came not from the blocker side, but the advertising side begging to be let through, so this is not, and never has been, extortion. It has always been a hammer on bad advertising practices and some malvertising (Trojan-like) intrusions, as well as the egregiously pervasive privacy issues. But if you can make the argument of "free speech" and "diversity" without a leg to stand on, then off to the races.

Can it be that far off these folks will claim that defeating js in the browser is unpatriotic or uncapitalistic, or unwhatever banner they want to wave?
9:37 am on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Two thoughts here

#1 - The IAB probably just got a lot more people to sign up to ad blockers which is what happens with gun sales every time Obama talks 'anti-gun'.

#2 - I keep telling myself that professionally offended people can't possibly raise the bar any further, but they seem to find a way.

When guys like Randall Rothenberg speak your options become more limited the more you listen. He's talking about removing and denying block/filter options from web visitors and forcing them to see things they clearly don't want to see. As a web publisher I get that ad blocking sucks, but adapt... don't get professionally offended about it.

As a web publisher I would benefit by taking up Randall Rothenberg's fight but I'm a human first and forcing people to see things they don't want to is not the answer. I don't mind 95% of the ads I see, as a webmaster I am so blind to them it's not funny, but the other 5% are the problem. I can also see an entirely different problem when a youngster goes on youtube to see his/her favorite minecraft personality and are bombarded with pictures of Girls for Chinese dating sites and political ads telling them who to vote for. When it comes to kids, as a parent, I would block 100% of ads if even 0.5% of them were problematic, no ad blocker would mean no internet, period.
1:10 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It is pretty close to extortion, especially that mobile startup Shine I think...which is nothing to do with user experience but more to do with mobile carriers wanting a cut of publisher ad revenue.

To me it is simple, you don't like the ads on my sites then don't visit. Not complicated.

The music industry's dabling with pay as much as you want has shown given a choice consumers will pay zero or very little for anything.

I'd block every person running adblockers if you could do so with no false positives.
2:37 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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^ What JS_Harris said:

..forcing people to see things they don't want to is not the answer..
2:56 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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You are not forcing people, look consumers would rather not watch TV ads or have ads in their magazines...but this is business not charity. You re not forcing them to visit your site, if they visit then the deal is they see the ads. Not a difficult concept.

As for kids, well don't let them have unsupervised access to things you are not sure of. Let's face it they won't see anything on a YouTube ad that is any worse than the stuff they will see on YouTube itself. The least of your worries should be the ads, I've caught my kids watching some way inappropriate stuff on YT.

I see Yahoo bought Pagefair's rival. As the % using blockers increases it will hit a point and then there will be a massive kickback, let's face it the ad companies and big publishers have deeper pockets than any adblocking company.

Publishers need to stand up and act or we will end up like he music business, happy to get a cents for 10,000 streams.
3:53 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think that publishers have brought on most of their own problems with ad blockers by being greedy, and by treating their users with disdain. (It isn't just big publishers, either--every pissant blogger these days seems to have a pop-up window inviting visitors to "Subscribe to my newsletter.")

But....When ad-blocking companies sell exemptions, that's either bribery or extortion, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in the courts.
5:23 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yeah look I think ads sometimes do get intrusive, especially in a downturn when agencies have more leverage with publishers to run those types of ad. But if these ads are so annoying people will vote with their feet, especially in a competitive market.

There are also plenty of public who just don't think they should pay for anything. Music, movies, etc - freetards people used to call them. Always find some reason to block or avoid paying. A quick look at Adblock Plus forum shows you people try to block the most non-intrusive ads even trying to block a message saying fancy turning off your adblocker. These are the people I'd prefer not to see my content.

They seem to have a delusional sense of entitlement.
6:05 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I had to install ad-block on all 14 computers in my family as I was getting tired of cleaning up spyware/adware, default search add-on etc. I also personally use ad-block as I never click on ads as they're distracting. Its not just me, all my friends have installed ad-block on their computers and I only see its usage increase in future as users become more aware.
This is a fight I believe publishers can not win, its only going to get worse.
6:57 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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"Subscribe to my newsletter" pop-up is NOT an ad - it is part of the page... unless you consider the whole website you visit to be an ad (then why would you want to visit it).

Regarding 'spyware/adware' - ad blockers are NOT supposed to protect users from these - there are several free anti-spyware/adware browser addons that are created for this purpose.

This misinformation that adblocks protect from viruses, spyware, adware could create, ironically, much more problems for end users than the 'annoying ads' ;)
7:23 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I agree ad blockers are indeed not supposed to protect from spyware/adware, but the #1 source of them are from ads. I've yet to see a single spyware/adware in 14 computer that I've installed adblock on 2 years ago. All of them are used by non-tech users, so clicking on flashy ads was a norm. Before ad-block I had to clean-up at-least one computer every month.
8:02 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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ad blockers are NOT supposed to protect users from these

Not directly but indirectly. All it takes is one human user clicking on a link in an ad, whether intentionally or otherwise. No ad = no link.

Does the IAB understand that ad blockers are installed voluntarily by human users who have intentionally sought out an ad blocker? Still looking for one for my iPad that won't stop short at "This won't work on your system", though in many cases the SmartCover is an acceptable alternative. It sure doesn't sound like it.
8:21 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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From The Article itself:
The result has been breathtaking innovation – but also suffocating chaos. Multitudes of could-be formats and wannabe standards crowd screens, interrupt consumers’ activities while impeding the delivery of desired content, create supply chain vulnerabilities, generate privacy concerns, and drive fears about data security.

We have McAfee founder running for President, swearing to use social engineering to unlock terrorist's IPhone(or eat his own shoes). For USERs sake, what else could be expected?....

@Lucy
Anybody that asks me to fix their computer that has a Virus on it or running slow automatically gets Fresh Copy of Hosts file(with instructions how to maintain it), NoScript and uBlock Origin. And if they don't learn how to use it, next time it will be 150 beans for the service. Family or not.
10:06 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Most people have no problem with first party (the intended site visit) content, including ads originating there, but do have problems with third party (content which does not reside on the intended site).... and if the "publisher" is honest with themselves, they have little control over third party content, ie. they can't vet it, they can't test it, they can't determine if bad actors are in the mix or not.

Advertising does grease the wheels, but some wheels are TOO greasy. Ad blockers have a reason to exists as long as greasy practices exist.

All this could have been dealt with long ago at the ad service level and full monitoring of the automated auction process.... but those companies felt (perhaps rightly) that such control and self-policing would kill the golden goose. Hence, we arrive at this time and place.

Like some above, installation of ad and script blockers has been done as self-preservation and customer satisfaction (computer clients, etc). I'm not adverse to advertising. Do it all the time: AS FIRST PARTY advertising which I seek and manage, and VET.
10:45 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Most people have no problem with first party ... content, including ads ...
I doubt that "most people" have a clue about where ads originate.

"Some people" may not like ads, but that doesn't mean they know where the ads actually come from, or even care where the ads come from.

.
11:06 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If theres money to be made in removng ads, then publishers may as well make it themselves -- thats what a lot of apps do. They do freebie versions, and make users pay to remove the ads. No ad blocker can stop that. If you can get enough traffic with an app, then maybe thats what ad blockers will eventually drive everyone to do
11:31 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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ad blockers are NOT supposed to protect users from these

Actually that's exactly why a lot of web users use ad blockers, because nothing else is protecting users from them. Ad blockers have become a tool visitors use because they have no other option.

The problem is the ad industry itself. As a webmaster it really irks me when all of my web pages suddenly show political ads during an election year even if I have explicitly instructed my ad serving company not to do that.
4:26 am on Feb 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Someone should remind IAB and their members of the expression "self inflicted wound".


Yes .. I'm of the opinion that many publishers have basically done this to themselves. There's a big difference between actually advertising and copying/pasting scripts. Adblockers are quite possibly the great equalizer when it comes to how irresponsible the majority of today's web publishers are.
4:44 am on Feb 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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"Some people" may not like ads, but that doesn't mean they know where the ads actually come from, or even care where the ads come from.

Oddly enough, that's why some people are discovering ad blockers. :)

The trend going forward, dear publishers, is clean up your act or get snuffed. That also includes the advertising companies, too. Despite what folks believe, the internet has a cost in infrastructure, bandwidth, power consumption, maintainence, and a whole slew of other costs.

If I am sitting on a 150gb cap per month and 40gb of that is advertising, don't you think I'll get rid of the fluff?

Few want to admit it, but advertising AS IT EXISTS RIGHT NOW, is tacked on overhead to the original purpose of the web. And someone has to eat those costs, OR provide the quid pro quo to keep using the infrastructure and riding coattails on USERS footing the access bill and GETTING LESS for their dollars because of the advertising tacked on.
8:33 am on Feb 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If I am sitting on a 150gb cap per month and 40gb of that is advertising, don't you think I'll get rid of the fluff?

I was thinking that as well. It's worse in Canada I think, most internet plans offer a high transfer speed with a low GB cap or a high GB cap with low transfer speeds. Both plans are designed to force the user to watch their activity or to upgrade, they do not have the option of only upgrading one or the other. Things like Youtube preloading the next video a person *might* want to watch is a pure waste on their plans, for example.

There are a lot of reasons a user might want an ad blocker and I don't think ANY of them include "I want to limit free speech" etc.
1:01 pm on Feb 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I don't run ads on my site.. the only ones limiting my freedom of speech is these big companies squeezing the internet dry.
4:48 pm on Feb 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If I am sitting on a 150gb cap per month and 40gb of that is advertising, don't you think I'll get rid of the fluff?


Nearly spot-on in my case.

After reading an article on data consumption via advertisements, I installed Ad-blocker in the hopes of reigning-in my data usage to avoid the overages I paid on a monthly basis. My data usage dropped roughly 20%.

Haven't exceeded my monthly data allotment since.
5:12 pm on Feb 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Haven't exceeded my monthly data allotment since.


In which country(ies) are all you people having data allowance issues?

I'm in the UK and hammer my phones all day long and never get to half of my monthly allowance HOWEVER I do not use YouTube.
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