• Ethan BondEthan Bond, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )


    It worked for me anyways (uBlock Origin), but we* really should be having a discussion about the direction of things re: ads, ad blockers, and the health of the web.

    To move forward on the "I really hope this isn't a trend that sticks..."

    It's an arms race whose first victims are end users. Users are getting better at blocking (or cognitively ignoring) ads, so the obvious solution is to make them more demanding of your attention. The problems with this are twofold:

    1) A product has some saturation point where the proportion of ads:content renders a product unusable. This will become a problem for designers first, but for many companies there's no foreseeable "we're not adding more ads." If you have to make more money then you have to make more money. Eventually that saturation and resulting quality degradation will become the CFO's problem. Before either of those people, of course, the user has to deal with previously awesome services devolving into digital coupon books (looking at you, Facebook).

    2) The burden placed on browsers, Internet infrastructure, and users' attention spans will do nothing but go up. The large ad networks are already highly optimized, but a basic ad blocker still results in a perceptible increase in performance. Serving banner ads is nothing when you're looking at a photo gallery, but now Google is having to serve 30 second video ads in front of 30 second videos. The absolute cost of that ad is negligible, but it doubled the costs of serving and consuming that content (save for server-side optimizations like CDNs).

    The ads arms race has already been happening on TV, but the consumers were always terribly ill equipped to mount a counterattack. More importantly, the conventional media companies never had to justify absurd valuations which outpaced their profitability at 100x factors. Google and Facebook are literally running out of people to show ads to – thus both having "charity projects" to bring underdeveloped nations online.

    We* really do need to figure out a way to pay for content and services that doesn't put users fundamentally at odds with the people providing it.

    * I'm not sure who "we" should be, but designers should be a part of the conversation early on, lest we find the web in a state that is so locked down/constrained by ads that we're stifled.

    10 points