Online advertisements have remained a primary, consistent source of revenue for content producers and media outlets like CNN, Fox News, NBC, MSNBC, The New York Time, Miami Herald, Bloomberg, BBC News, Skye News, and The Washington Post. They’ve hauled in billions of dollars annually as revenue from online advertisements only continues to grow. While this might be a good thing for many website owners, it’s become a thorn in the side for users and consumers, as an average individual views between 200 to 1,000 ads per day accross various devices. These ads can range from web banners, to video ads or even picture ads, showing a whole host of irrelevant goods and services. Additionally, the scourge of online activity trackers has made it so that advertisers can track a user’s perceived interests as they browse online stores like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and many others. This data is then used to “re-target” a user, showing them the very item they previously viewed days later when they least expect it. This can feel both annoying and unsettling. Premium ad blockers can aid in ensuring that a user’s activity is no longer tracked and that they can view news sites unadulterated, filtered – ad-free.
While ads are used to inform potential buyers of the latest products on the market, services available at a click, TV shows and concert events, and the latest local/state/national/international news, they can also be used to confuse and mislead people by spreading incomplete, anecdotal, or just plan false information. For instance, during the 2016 US Presidential Campaign, a lot of news sites used ads to boost their site traffic, but these ads were also used as a means of distributing lots of fake news about both presidential candidates (Trump and Clinton) during the US Presidential campaign. Numerous sources have estimated that over 100 million people saw those ads and polls have shown that users’ opinions and even behaviors (in the case of reports of individual showing up to protests organized by Russian trolls) changed dramatically. These ads were used to target states like Michigan and Wisconsin, thus causing electoral interference by swaying the minds of voters towards certain candidates. Although sources later found out that those acts were perpetrated by outside influencers in other nations in order to spread propaganda, by the time this was discovered even prestigious media outlets like the Washington Post and the Miami Herald had already fallen victims of such propaganda.
Ad blockers have numerous benefits for its users as they can help maintain privacy, this is because most ads platform provider uses profile tracking system to display ads content to site visitors thus infringing privacy of the device user. It also helps save cash, as ads are usually purchase targeted and helps provide incentives to purchase certain unnecessary items. It can also help conserve paid bandwidth utilization by preventing ad content from loading in the first place. These numerous benefits has helped propel the importance of ads blocking software, although most media outlet are not only looking for means to circumvent ad blocking but are fighting back users of ads blockers face on.
For instance, in March 2017, the New York Time showed a message to users of ad blocking software, which reads: “The Best things in life aren’t free”. It went on to explain how advertising helps fund journalism and further went on to provide ads block user with an ultimatum of how they should subscribe to read article contents or disable their ads blocker and read the articles for free. In June 2017, Oriel introduced an anti-ad blocker plugin for WordPress developers and users in order to circumvent ads blocking. What these media outlets and web content providers fail to realise is that they stand to lose a substantial percentage of their online reading audience with such infuriating ads placement, thus refusing to take into account the fact that these web users share the URL links of their web content or news articles to others.
Having seen what ad blockers are and why they are needed, let’s see how they impact user experiences with news sites online:
These days, the act of simply reading an article through online newspapers or magazines has become an act of having to sift through thousands of irrelevant pieces of information in the form of unmerited and unwanted ads. News or media outlets like CNN, Fox News, CBS or NBC, etc. do not design their content applications or website solely for its users or visitors pleasure but also for the purpose of generating income by monetizing your views.
Imagine trying to read a news article of 600 words that extract 14 megabytes of your bandwidth in order to load, meanwhile a normal 600 words Microsoft word document is 15 kilobyte. That means you have just downloaded an entire Novel or Ebook in order read a 600 words one paged article as a result of ads content on the website.
As earlier stated, ad blockers have numerous benefits for its users, among this is its ability to help make desktops, laptops, or handheld devices like your mobile phones and tablet load these news site faster, thus enabling site visitors to view the news articles in a better and less clustered manner by stripping the web user of any unnecessary distraction while viewing the news site. Ads blockers have not only protected user’s privacy from ads providers platform but it has also help in providing great web user experience by preventing malicious wares which have been embedded in the ads content codes to either steal information or spread virus to the web users devices.
While ads blockers may not solve all your online problems, it helps to further smoothen browsing users experience by preventing the display of fake news ads content and circumvent its spread as planned by propagandist. Although news or media outlets might not buy into the idea of site visitors and content applications users utilising ads blockers, it goes a long way in enhancing the positive impact of users experiences while browsing these news site online, that’s why big software conglomerates like Google have incorporated this features into their application like Chromes and other devices. For instance, the mobile Google Chrome apps uses a Beta feature called “Funding Choices” which allows news sites or publishers to ask their web visitors with ad blocker if they would disable their ad blockers in order to read the article content or enable it and pay for subscription or pay a pass fee that removes all ads on the website.