Oh No AdBlock! What Have You Done?


I am in the camp that believes that Internet banner advertising is the worst thing there is about the Internet. While it may pay the bills for some, I firmly believe that if we put our minds to it, we can come up with better ways to monetize the Internet. However, the recent moves of AdBlock leave me conflicted…

In my opinion, advertising on the Internet in the form of banners and pop-up ads is by far the most jarring means of monetization on the Internet. My rationale is further supported by the fact that AdBlock appears in the top 5 downloaded extensions on Chrome and is the most downloaded extension on Firefox!

To that effect, I have used AdBlock for the last 5 years. It runs on all my browsers and I never see any web banners. However, a month ago, I decided I wanted to see if there were any innovations happening in the Display Advertising space and uninstalled AdBlock from all my browsers. The industry hasn’t moved forward, unfortunately. The banners are more or less the same and if anything, the ‘Expando’ banners, which open up to larger sizes when your cursor accidentally hovers over them, are even worse. The excuse that I should view ads to support the Internet advertising industry I work in does not fly with me.

In a month’s time, I felt my web browsing experience crippled. I would get annoyed of continuously seeing ads about buying flowers when I had already bought and sent them to my girlfriend a week ago. Surely, there is a way to determine this for the ad networks out there. By this time, I had had enough and promptly reinstalled AdBlock on all my browsers.

Speaking of AdBlock, they are doing things that are going against their very ideological ethos. It turns out that AdBlock accepts payments from big companies to whitelist the ads they serve to users and Google happens to be on that list. While I have not seen any ads while browsing recently, my reaction when I read that piece of news was that of being let down. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I did.

Then, they have this viral campaign running where they are running Google ads! Will you believe it? The company that is anti-ads is running ads. No matter what the cause, this just gives the Internet advertisers another reason to say, “Look, even AdBlock needs to run ads!” The position AdBlock has always taken is that Banner and Text Ads online are annoying and they just hamper the experience of surfing the Internet. However, with this recent guffaw what they are saying is that while we are blocking ads for you we don’t mind killing the experience for others as long as our end goal is met. In a way, this line of thinking is no different from the uneducated advertisers whose mindset they are actually trying to change.

As Simon Sinek has wisely said,

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Unfortunately, by advertising using Display Banners and Text Ads, AdBlock is going in the wrong direction right now in my opinion.

Time to look out for a new ad blocking extension?


  1. Well, this was discussed and rediscussed recently. What you fail to note is that AdBlock does still give you the option to turn off *all* ads but by default leaves on ‘unobtrusive’ ads.

    I am actually curious, how do you monetize the internet if not for ads. What solution is better than no ads at all?

  2. Interesting response- we like to hear the thoughts of those who use ad block and actually think about the implications. Now, to touch on a few points you made.

    “We can come up with better ways to monetize the internet”.
    – We just released a post analyzing the top 5 alternative options publishers have been using to replace ad revenue. They didn’t work- http://blog.pagefair.com/2013/dealing-with-adblock-5-options-that-dont-work/?cmp=32

    “The recent moves of Adblock leave me conflicted”.
    – Adblock has launched a crowd funding campaign to take down online ads. The irony is astounding and I understand why you’re confused. You can read more about it here- http://blog.pagefair.com/2013/adblock-new-campaign/ /?cmp=28

    Also, in reference to Google- they definitely paid off AdBlock Plus, most likely due to the $887 million they lost in 2012 due to adblocking- http://blog.pagefair.com/2013/acceptable-ads-soothe-google-pain/?cmp=36

    *Disclaimer- I work for PageFair, a company that studies adblocking and I wrote the above posts.

  3. Zulfi: You are correct in that AdBlock does allow you to turn off *all* ads. Maybe that is why I dont see any of the Display Banners myself. However, to start pondering over the scope of alternative monetisation options on the internet is frankly beyond the scope of this blog post. Maybe, I need to write another post on it? 🙂

  4. PageFair: You hit the nail on the head when you say that the problem with advertising online is actually bad advertisements. I guess I wouldn’t have a problem if the system was a tad more intelligent on which ads to display to me either.

    However, until that is solved, I will continue to be a naysayer of online advertising. I like the way Digg, Stackoverflow and Reditt solve their monetisation problems – by introducing sponsored content and *clearly* labeling it so. This may not translate too well for all monetisation scenarios online, but its a start.

  5. i didn’t install adblock for many years, because i felt text-based ads that google served me were bearable (even though i never clicked them myself). did advertisers get greedy, or did they get lazy? either way, internet ads have turned unbearable for me. if adblock sells out, i will be forced to find another option to get them blocked, until advertisers realize how much they suck.

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