Ads Are Coming Back

Ad blockers are nothing new for people who spend a great deal of time online. These lovely tools enable us to save CPU cycles and battery life by preventing surreptitious code from running in the browser, collecting bits and pieces of information as it goes to send back to a server somewhere for later analysis. For the first few years of ad blockers, websites became readable again. Distracting popups appeared far less often and whole page ads all but vanished. The banners that cut through navigation panels and article content disappeared. Auto-playing videos didn't auto-play. It was a glorious time. I use the past tense here because, unfortunately, advertising companies have become much smarter about how and where they place their offers.

Google seems to have the upper hand in getting around most of the blockers, especially when visiting any of their sites. YouTube has become quite unbearable with the much larger video promotions above the videos and to the right, plus videos that play before the one you wanted to watch, plus banners that appear at the bottom of the video you wanted. It's all too much. Google needs to earn revenues to keep the lights on and pay their people, but I don't need Google to deliver most of the videos I generally watch1. I find myself wondering how much I would be willing to pay for Google to not show me any of their ads when I visit a website. Not just their websites, mind you, but any website that uses AdSense or DoubleClick or some other Google Advertising platform.

Is a cleaner web experience worth $50 a year? $100? More? Would Google or any other large vendor even feign to consider offering some sort of subscription service to show fewer advertisements as a person jumps from site to site to site? It seems like the ultimate cash grab opportunity: earn money from contracts with companies for putting as many ads on a page as a content provider might want, and earn money from subscriptions with the general public for not showing as many ads on a page.

Hopefully the next few iterations of ad blockers will restore some sanity to the commercial web.

  1. There are a few good producers on YouTube who make interesting and informative videos, but just about everything else I'm looking for can be seen elsewhere