Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.166.150.205

Forum Moderators: LifeinAsia

Featured Home Page Discussion

The Ad Blocking Arms Race May Now Be Over

     
12:00 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Administrator from GB 

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month

joined:May 9, 2000
posts:24078
votes: 499


The battle between ad blocking software and adversing industry may be over thanks to a researchers at Princeton and Stanford University. For the past few years all we've heard about is ad blockers, and how the ad industry is working to clean up its act so that people are less likely to use ad blocking software. I don't know how far that battle has gone with the vast majority of users, but it may be a long way down the line.

This one may be a game changer.

A team of Princeton and Stanford University researchers has fundamentally reinvented how ad-blocking works, in an attempt to put an end to the advertising versus ad-blocking arms race. The ad blocker they've created is lightweight, evaded anti ad-blocking scripts on 50 out of the 50 websites it was tested on, and can block Facebook ads that were previously unblockable. The Ad Blocking Arms Race May Now Be Over [motherboard.vice.com]


Earlier stories
IAB Lays Out Plans on L.E.A.N. Scoring to Stem the Tide of Ad Blocking [webmasterworld.com]
Report: Ad Blocking is Worth $22 Billion in Lost Revenue [webmasterworld.com]
3:11 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 25, 2002
posts:8464
votes: 220


I just did a test on a site I work on. We don't run ads, so we don't care about ad blockers, but I did make a stab at measuring how many people block Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. It was roughly 7% which is less than I would have expected based on all the time I spend in forums with paranoiac webmasters who run Privacy Badger... like me.
4:13 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Administrator from GB 

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month

joined:May 9, 2000
posts:24078
votes: 499


hehehe, well, we are the exceptions. You'd really have to know what Privacy Badger is, and I suspect that most people rely on their browser to do it all for them without installing further tracking and privacy tools.

I just asked someone I bumped into and they had little idea about add blockers. They'd heard about it somewhere, but forgotten about it. They would be a more typical Internet user than me.
7:03 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from NL 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 25, 2005
posts:1390
votes: 162


It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

This isn't ad blocking, it's ad hiding. What's the point of that? You waste a ton of bandwidth and it won't make pages load any faster.
7:45 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 25, 2002
posts:8464
votes: 220


>> waste a ton of bandwidth

Which is the main reason I added ad blockers. I had a similar thought, but figured most people are on much faster connections than I am and were less concerned with that.
7:55 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 15, 2013
posts: 336
votes: 29


It was roughly 7% which is less than I would have expected based on all the time I spend in forums with paranoiac webmasters who run Privacy Badger... like me.


It's a LOT higher for me, and very problematic.

My sites focus on a local demographic, and have a near 100% penetration locally. But the problem I've experienced is that the computer repair shops locally have no idea how to actually remove viruses or spyware; instead, they just install ad blockers by default on every computer that comes through the door.

I did a survey on my site awhile back, asking people with ad blockers WHY they use them. The wide majority of the replies were from people saying that they had no idea they were using one.

To me, that's the real problem. IMHO, the majority of people aren't using an ad blocker because they're combating slow-loading ads, or because speed is that big of an issue to them. No, they're using them because they picked up a virus or spyware somewhere, and instead of fixing it someone just applied a Band-aid that hurts all ad-dependent websites.
11:43 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member from US 

10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 11, 2006
posts:213
votes: 15


A team of Princeton and Stanford University researchers


These people are getting paid to come up with ad-blockers?

What a noble effort to help mankind.
12:04 am on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
posts:8042
votes: 286


I measured 11% Google Analytics blocked (or failed to load/timed-out) across 6 sites about a year ago.
12:07 am on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7323
votes: 477


The war will continue, of course. Escalating, of course. :)

I block third party, js, cookies, super cookies, etc, not because I have anything against ads, I don't. But I do have a great deal of concern about how I connect to the web and how that content is delivered for both security and privacy reasons. I suspect there are a few others out there who feel the same way.
2:08 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 12, 2006
posts:2595
votes: 67


one of my favourite news sites has just gone behind a pay wall. they let you read three articles a month, and that's it. then you're blocked. so i don't use it anymore. this is the future of the web thanks to ad blockers. i don't blame the website because they have to make money somehow.
4:55 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 25, 2002
posts:8464
votes: 220


But I do have a great deal of concern about how I connect to the web and how that content is delivered for both security and privacy reasons.


The watershed moment for me was when my wife and I appeared in an ad. My own image in the add shocked me out of ad blindness and I started seeing the ads and realizing how aggressively I was being tracked and retargeted and I installed blockers.

Sorry advertisers, you went to far and now you can't put the genie back in the bottle. You've lost a nice chunk of your audience forever.
5:01 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Oct 5, 2001
posts:5786
votes: 88


I wonder if it's possible to have several levels of ads,
non-tracking
tracking
aggressive tracking (remarketing)
etc.

I'd allow non-tracking ads
I really dislike remarketing
5:17 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Administrator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator not2easy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 27, 2006
posts:3176
votes: 131


Webmasters could have done much more to let people know how to opt out of those remarketing/personalized interests ads. Maybe there would be fewer people using AdBlockers. I put a text link at the bottom of sidebars as soon as I opted out myself. No need for invasive ads.
7:05 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7323
votes: 477


one of my favourite news sites has just gone behind a pay wall. they let you read three articles a month, and that's it. then you're blocked. so i don't use it anymore.


Going behind a paywall is not necessarily because of users and ad blockers. For some sites they do not monetize well with third party ad inserts OR the recent cartoon and farm yard algo filters has reduced income to a trickle. As for no longer supporting (as a user) a site that goes behind a paywall that's different than ad blocking .... it is an active decision the content isn't worth a personal expenditure.

Most folks who install ad blockers are

Worried about malware/malvertising
Worried about privacy/tracking
Worried about system security
and less so:
Had enough of all dancing intrusive advertising
Can't find the content for all the ads
Have bandwidth/monthly caps which get broken in days instead of lasting for a month

Serving ads direct generally avoids all the above, but that's a horse of a different color.
7:17 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 12, 2006
posts:2595
votes: 67


Ironically, the site I'm talking about did have rather intrusive ads (ads that expanded as you scrolled past), and I was happy to carry on using it. It's only now they've gone behind a pay wall that I've stopped. I wish they would bring back the annoying ads!
7:44 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 15, 2013
posts:336
votes: 29


Just a thought, londrum... maybe shoot them an email and let them know how you feel. If the problem is really with people blocking ads, I would suggest to them that they only deny access to people with ad blockers, and then make it optional for the rest.

It's entirely possible that they just don't make enough from ads (with a high percentage of my traffic being mobile now, I have the same problem), though. Which may be a trend we see more and more.

With the combination of low-paying mobile ads and the increase of ad blockers, we're possibly witnessing the death of the free internet. Unless something changes, within a few years the only free sites left may be those big enough to trade on the open market. And without relatively inexpensive PPC ads, the smaller e-commerce sites may be in the same boat.

Everyone seems to be working real hard to make sure the only thing on the internet is Facebook and Amazon.
9:19 pm on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
posts:8042
votes: 286


The rise of malvertising, invasive tracking and surveillance, and heavyweight scripts that can bog down browser performance mean that there is a strong case to be made for blocking ads (a recent study found that advertising and scripts slow down web pages by an average of 44 percent).
And because of this scenario, all sites loose much of their ad income to the adblockers. Sounds like a loose-loose situation.
1:48 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 15, 2013
posts: 336
votes: 29


Haha, people that complain about slow-loading pages never did web design on a 14.4k modem! lol I remember days of it taking 2-3 [u]minutes[/u] to upload a new script, then a minute or two to refresh and see what errors you had.

We're all very spoiled with high speed internet. We complain that a page takes a horribly inconvenient 8 seconds to load, when it could open in 5 seconds (assuming the aforementioned 44%). Then, somehow, we justify removing all forms of income from the provider of that site, I guess to punish them for wasting those 3 seconds of your life. And then, just to be safe, we go ahead and punish all other sites, too... even those that were faster loading in the first place, just in case they cost us those 3 seconds.

I've noticed more and more news sites that hide the page entirely unless you turn off your ad blocker. I'm thinking about going that route, too. I don't want to completely deny access, because they still provide some value to my sites, so I'm thinking of a grayed-out page with a great big "Please turn off your ad blocker" notification. IMO, all ad-driven sites need to stick together and do something like this; if we don't make ad blockers too inconvenient for the user then we're all going to lose.
2:14 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7323
votes: 477


As a mantra that's right up there with Fight for $15.... One of those kind of things where if you get what you ask for you still lose.

I'm not cheering for either side. I took a different route to avoid both---in all things there's more than one path to a desired outcome.

What the op has revealed (in the linked article) is a more finely crafted "blocker" against sites that are already blocking the blockers. From the article:

... is novel in two major ways: First, it looks at the struggle between advertising and ad blockers as fundamentally a security problem that can be fought in much the same way antivirus programs attempt to block malware, using techniques borrowed from rootkits and built-in web browser customizability to stealthily block ads without being detected. Second, the team notes that there are regulations and laws on the books that give a fundamental advantage to consumers that cannot be easily changed, opening the door to a long-term ad-blocking solution.


If the above becomes widespread, and likely it will, those other less traveled paths (serving your own ads, for example) becomes the obvious next step. Meanwhile, treating this as a combat "US or THEM" does have a serious collateral damage potential in alienating the audience sought.
2:21 am on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 15, 2013
posts:336
votes: 29


As far as I can tell, ad blockers block local ads, too. I have an "alternate" program written to show data from a remote XML file (which does work), and I tried to supplement it with affiliate banners. But those affiliate banners are blocked, presumably just because they are 300x250.

Maybe the one mentioned in the OP will be better.
5:59 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 25, 2002
posts:8464
votes: 220


We complain that a page takes a horribly inconvenient 8 seconds to load, when it could open in 5 seconds (assuming the aforementioned 44%)

If you are trying to read a modern ad-supported news site over satellite, it's misery. Even now that I have been able to upgrade to a massive 1.5Mbps, it's painful.

I subscribe to a fair bit of media and make donations (yes, not subscriptions, but much more than I would pay for a subscription) to some non-ad-supported content sites because I support their work.

What I would like to see is a sort of reverse "Adsense without just one middleman" (i.e. the broker, but not the advertiser) where I put money in a bank and if I go to your site, I see the ad-free version. The problem I have with the subscription/donation model is not with the sites that I visit all the time and want to support, but with the ones where I read one article per year, but they want a $20 subscription.

Most sites are earning less than $0.01/pageview. If I were willing to pay $0.02/pageview (and screw you if you turn your pages into slideshows), then publishers would make more money, I wouldn't have ads and if 200 sites that I get most of my media from participated, all would be good with the world.
6:41 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 21, 2002
posts:747
votes: 10


>> waste a ton of bandwidth
On both ends
8:02 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 15, 2013
posts:336
votes: 29


What I would like to see is a sort of reverse "Adsense without just one middleman" (i.e. the broker, but not the advertiser) where I put money in a bank and if I go to your site, I see the ad-free version. The problem I have with the subscription/donation model is not with the sites that I visit all the time and want to support, but with the ones where I read one article per year, but they want a $20 subscription.

Most sites are earning less than $0.01/pageview. If I were willing to pay $0.02/pageview (and screw you if you turn your pages into slideshows), then publishers would make more money, I wouldn't have ads and if 200 sites that I get most of my media from participated, all would be good with the world.


If ad blockers did this, I would have no more complaints. But as long as there's one out there doing it for free, we both know that 99.99% of the people aren't going to pay $0.01. Especially the ones that have no idea they even have an ad blocker installed.

But hey, if you think it would work, we ARE a bunch of coders (mostly), so let's make it happen! The user pays, say, $5 when they sign up, we give $0.01 to the website for each pageview, and we keep $0.01. With the right marketing, who knows, maybe there will be enough people out there that actually care that it might take off.
8:12 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 12, 2006
posts:2595
votes: 67


the problem with paywalls is that people can't tell if they want it. most people want to have a good look around before they sign up to a recurring fee. if i was a newspaper site i would offer them something cheap like 10 for lifetime access -- and still show the ads. if the customer then blocks the ads then so be it, at least you got a bit of money out of them first.
as a customer i would be happier doing that than paying 5 quid every single month
8:36 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 15, 2013
posts:336
votes: 29


I know we're getting away from the OP and now just talking about ad blockers in general... sorry about that!

A few years ago, you might remember an issue with Safari users that were seeing an Adsense banner that was automatically redirecting them. I had a lot of complaints about that (which no doubt led to a lot of people using ad blockers), and one person offered to pay me a monthly fee in exchange for no ads.

The problem was that she was a HEAVY user, easily viewing 500 pages a day (between message boards, classifieds, PMs, etc).

We agreed on a rate, which was still very high for her, but a ruinous rate of exchange for me. She did it for 2 months and stopped; I wouldn't be surprised at all to find that she installed an ad blocker.

Yesterday, I had 6,867 pages viewed with an ad blocker :-(

[edited by: LifeinAsia at 8:47 pm (utc) on Apr 19, 2017]
[edit reason] AdSense revenue specifics removed [/edit]

11:55 pm on Apr 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from AU 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 22, 2003
posts: 2139
votes: 121


I don't think many people are concerned by unobtrusive ads as such - they well realise advertising is essential to maintaining the site.

People do however object to all the tracking and plethora of associated scripts. To read one of my favourite news sites I have to allow scripts - just looking at their home page now it has 39 scripts, I've seen 55 on other pages at times. None of course have anything to do with the actual news story.

Personally I think it is the ad delivery networks who are to blame. An own goal.
4:11 am on Apr 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 9, 2011
posts:13615
votes: 417


What's the point of that?

Oh believe me, there exist ads that are so revolting, I would expend double the bandwidth just to avoid seeing them at all. One family of sites which shall remain nameless runs ads that look like nothing so much as a compilation from the Malady of the Month department of Morbid Fact du whatever-it-is. I can't begin to imagine what they are advertising, or how it can possibly appeal to their target audience.

Yesterday, I had 6,867 pages viewed with an ad blocker

As against how many page views without an ad blocker? And how many of those 6,867 people recommended your pages to friends, or posted links on social media, where they will be seen by people without ad blockers?
5:37 am on Apr 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 15, 2013
posts:336
votes: 29


As against how many page views without an ad blocker? And how many of those 6,867 people recommended your pages to friends, or posted links on social media, where they will be seen by people without ad blockers?


Admittedly, the percentage of people using ad blockers went down a LOT in the last year. I started a thread on my message board that only people with ad blockers could see, asking why they were doing it. The majority said that they didn't even know that they had one, and a lot of people whitelisted us after that. Then, I started giving a notification on every 5th pageview to people using ad blockers (sort of like nagware) asking them to whitelist us, and that helped, too.

But the remainder are virtually worthless, except for the posts they make that encourage other people to view more pages. So I'm not going to block them, but I also can't help but see how much money they cost me, every day.

As for social media... that's pretty much worthless, too. We have "Share on Facebook / Twitter" links on every page of the site, and I'm positive that we send more traffic to them than they do us.

In the last week, 0.04% of our "new users" (total = 5) came from Facebook, and none came from Twitter. But in exchange, we had 420 clicks on the "Share on Facebook" link, and 335 on the "Share on Twitter" link. So that's pretty much a 1-way street, going the wrong direction :-(
6:04 am on Apr 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
posts:8042
votes: 286


As for social media... I'm positive that we send more traffic to them than they do us.
I used to feel that way. I kept hearing about all the traffic SM had but I never saw much coming my way.

Then I decided I would go get it. I opened accouts at most of the SM sites, read all the developer pages, created the files and proceeded to get back the traffic they were stealing from me.

Make constant posts w/ images that link to articles at your site. Give them a reason to come. Engage your audience. "Like" their posts & comments. Establish trust and develop brand recognition.

Takes constant work, but it does yeild a lot of traffic... a lot.
7:36 am on Apr 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7323
votes: 477


Ad blockers in US and UK are about the same as last year ... 26%.

I question reports that users aren't aware they have ad blockers installed. Might chalk that up to answers given to pollsters for elections. :)

Here's another look (with interesting commentary) on this new breed of ad blocker: [theregister.co.uk...]

One item from article:
One factor may have tempered the confidence of the researchers' predictions if only they had taken it into account. Advertising may eventually become indistinguishable from the content around it, as in the case of native or branded advertising. The only way to avoid native advertising is by shunning the content the TV show or the website entirely .
This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31
 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members