back to article Ad-blocking super-weapon axed by maker for being TOO effective

The developer behind the wildly popular Peace ad blocker for Apple's iOS has pulled it from the App Store after claiming it was too effective. Indie dev Marco Arment said in a blog post that his creation had been blocking more ads than he had anticipated, to the point where he worried he was harming publishers. "Achieving …

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  1. Mike Bell

    He's not making any sense

    It's for the user to decide whether blocking ads is a good thing or not. Not him.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: He's not making any sense

      I agree that the user should be allowed to choose what to block: the problem is that this particular ad-blocker gives the user no choice other than using it or not using it. By contrast, all the ad-blockers I've used allow the user to choose which advert-sources they want to block, which is a much more nuanced approach.

      I started adblocking for two reasons: (1) I hate animated ads and (2) many advertisers are cheapskates whose slow servers make page loading a right royal pain.

      What I'd really like to see would be the additional ability to block any ads which are not static or contain links, i.e. plain HTML text, simple .JPG and .PNG images are OK, but GIF, flash, embedded Javascript or anything containing a link or using CSS gets blocked regardless of where it comes from.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: He's not making any sense

        the problem is that this particular ad-blocker gives the user no choice other than using it or not using it.

        Don't see that as a problem, it demonstrates the core product actually works. From reading the article it seems that the developer either couldn't be bothered to develop his product into a more nuanced tool or lacked the financial resources/backing to do so.

        What I'd really like to see would be the additional ability to block any ads which are not static or contain links

        I would agree with this sentiment, I find it irritating and inexplicable that the excellent unwanted content/ad blocker that was shipped with Outpost Firewall years back hasn't really been developed and hence I find it more useful to now run an adblocker.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's not making any sense

        +1 to this - and I'd also add anything that tries to do full-screen takeover, too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He's not making any sense

      He probably took a bribe. Get over it.

      1. Hollerith 1

        Re: He's not making any sense

        Yes, I am afraid this was also my first thought. Or someone said 'we know where your children go to school' or similar.

        1. Mostly Human

          Re: He's not making any sense

          It strikes me that the reason for pulling the app is because a total block would incur the wrath of and then litigation by the advertisers. This has recently happened on more than one occasion to Ad-block and they succeeded because their app can be configured to allow the passage of non-intrusive ads.

      2. Pseu Donyme

        Re: He's not making any sense

        >He probably took a bribe. Get over it.

        Having observed the morals* of admen over the years I can't help but to further suspect that this is a part of a prearranged meta-marketing campaign extolling the evils of ad-blocking ?

        *the total absence thereof, actually

    3. Grunchy
      Linux

      Re: He's not making any sense

      Be that as it may, it's also up to him whether or not to publish. And a guy can choose not to publish for any and all kooky and zany reasons, and nobody can argue against that person.

      For instance, my reason for not publishing is that I'm too lazy about it. Sorry..

  2. DougS Silver badge

    Well iOS 9 has only been out for two days

    I'm sure someone else will fill this need and reap the rewards.

    Alternative explanation: he's looking for publicity, so by claiming his app is "too effective" and pulling it, then bringing it back a few days later "by popular demand" everyone will want it.

    I was all excited to try out an adblocker since intrusive ads have become a real problem on my iPhone recently, but on second thought I decided to wait a month or so before I make the move so I can get more information on which one(s) are the most popular and get the best ratings.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Forget It
    Gimp

    Peace?

    He'll be back with the next app called Love

    and the one after that Understanding.

    (yuk)

    1. Peter Clarke 1
      Coat

      Re: Peace?

      He won't bother with Understanding because, to quote the Beatles, 'Loov is all you need'

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Peace?

      "He'll be back with the next app called Love

      and the one after that Understanding."

      And?

      What's so funny about Peace, Love and Understanding?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_u2OK_IKw0 (original)

      https://vimeo.com/43308455 (elvis)

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Peace?

        I thought it was peace, love and dope!

        1. Jess--

          Re: Peace?

          and there was me thinking it was Peace, Love and Unity

  4. keithpeter
    Windows

    nuance

    I'm reading this page on firefox on the FrankenslackTM laptop. Noscript on and cookies requesting permission. The Register is showing me a couple of ads, the banner and a static side ad, along with the jobs listing.

    The page is 'quiet'. Nothing is jumping, no garish backgrounds, no flashing animations or modal windows. No continuous bandwidth use. I have no problem with ads of that nature. Its the attention sapping nausea inducing blinkorama I can't cope with.

    So Armet may have a point in that 'all or nothing' is not as useful as 'detect horribleness but allow respectful' with the ability to define your particular horrible.

    The tramp: I have no money and I don't buy things except food and clothes. OK the odd book and a few CDs as well now and again. And, yes, we are working our way through a rather nice Rioja... but certainly no serious budget.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: nuance

      "The Register is showing me a couple of ads, the banner and a static side ad, along with the jobs listing.

      The page is 'quiet'."

      Lucky you.

      I normally read el Reg on the laptop with sound off & blocker on. Occasionally I read it on the MythTV box with no blocker & sound on. Earlier today I dropped one page and hastily abandoned it when instantly a loud voice started lecturing me about something or other. On the laptop I will continue to make no exceptions. The ad industry simply can't get itself in order to stop pissing off those on whom it seeks to impose its brain farts. It doesn't deserve to exist.

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        Re: nuance

        Does the El Reg team have any comment about that loud voice lecturing Doctor Syntax?

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: nuance

          If he's hearing voices he should probably see a doctor

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: nuance

          Does the El Reg team have any comment about that loud voice lecturing Doctor Syntax?

          I would suspect their answer would be something to the tune of "we don't have any control over the ads" as they more act as a conduit, but that also illustrates the exact problem with advertising - they don't know what ads will appear where which has already led to some embarrassing juxtapositions that would not have been possible with manual placement.

          It used to be that you choose the location for your ads, and then negotiated a fee. That fee depended on circulation, and the size of your ad, and it would be there in print, one, permanent ad for everyone to see (and, as a user, occasionally preserved the mag for as it served as a mini-catalogue of suppliers).

          I don't buy advertising now but it now appears to be broker based, middlemen who take a cut off the revenue and promise both parties that it's so much better now with statistics. When (yes, not if) I have to place advertising, I will be looking for a non-Google way. That is not because I think targeting is not important, but because I disagree with targeting that is based on violation of basic user rights (and neither do they have any business knowing what our feedback rate is), so the search would be for either direct placement (of which I already have a few), or a broker who doesn't engage in those practices (which I suspect to be a very difficult job to locate).

          I'm OK with basic demographics, thank you. I know that makes me old fashioned, but it seems to be a better way, leading away from ad blockers instead of towards it. Not that I think anyone will care or notice but some principles are IMHO too important to give up, just to serve Mammon.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: nuance

            Agree the ad model is broken - how many times have you noticed an ad clicked away and then found a need to go back and look? With print it is simple as you tend to remember the publication and article you were reading when you saw the ad; online there is no going back. You now have to rely on google, but then if the ad was for an offer (to take an ad on the page I'm currently viewing: IPExpo Europe - Register Free), google (or any search engine) is not really helpful.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Lilburne Silver badge

        Re: nuance

        I want all adverts gone. Especially those from Google. I'll make an exception here or there but I want them gone. Also if I have made an exception if I start getting crap then the site goes back into the blacklist.

        No exceptions.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: nuance

      Re: Frankenslack laptop

      I assume it is based on a Frankenpad (the T60/61 IBM could of and should of built but didn't) but runs slackware instead of Windows...

  5. reggiesmate

    Why ?

    If you are really worried, why are you not concerned that the "user" ie the person who pays for internet connection,directly should not be able to block this intrusive nonesense. Perhaps you should go back to your original idea and work out if said user is on her/his paid for connection(not easy I know) or if they are in free wifi and deserve all they get

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why ?

      Actually, BOTH sides pay for the Internet connection, and the other end is practically-always metered unlike most home users which are flat-rate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why ?

        "Actually, BOTH sides pay for the Internet connection, and the other end is practically-always metered unlike most home users which are flat-rate."

        Actually a lot are still on metered connections - ever read the small print on the supercheap headline price the tiny print with the asterisk on BT or Sky for example?

        In your keen defence of the advertards, you also neglect to reflect on the effect on those on really slow connections who are forced to sit there while a huge file of crud drips its way out of some choked serve delaying the page load as well as eating up paid for data.

        You need a reality realignment.

        AC - sauce for the goose.....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why ?

          Agree, and if you are on low speed copper, or highly expensive sat-internet then its painful.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Why ?

          "You need a reality realignment."

          No, mine's aligned just fine. It's their stuff; their rules, no exception.

          If you have to jump hoops to get to stuff, then you either jump or walk away. If this is the standard model of the Internet, then you can either suffer quietly or unplug. And if that means denying yourself access to the exclusive content found no other way...then your funeral.

          1. O RLY

            Re: Why ?

            I find that most of the "exclusive content" that providers describe as "exclusive content" tends to be shit. Either the content itself is inane or it's delivered in the most obnoxious means necessary (i.e. a fifty-slide clickthrough with ads occupying 75% of the page, or a video recorded by shrill, vapid people).

            Regarding mobile browsing, the experience has become much worse over the last year or two with ad services that redirect to App Store or Google Play, ads that cover the whole page with a four pixel close button, delayed-launch ads, and the sheer amount of noise (ads and related traffic) compared to signal (the stuff I actually wanted to see). It's enough to make me unplug. Especially as nearly everyone on mobile pays for data in terms of X currency for Y data quantity, adblocking is a great way to reclaim a useful mobile web. And get one's money's worth.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Why ?

        Actually, BOTH sides pay for the Internet connection, and the other end is practically-always metered unlike most home users which are flat-rate.

        No currently all sides pay for their own connection to the Internet and only their connection. With each connection sized according to individual needs, finances and service availability.

        In the current ad-supported web model there is a presumption that a website can consume as much end user bandwidth as it wants, with little or no real regard for the actual service the user is experiencing - hence why so many 4G connections get treated as a regular 'high-speed' fixed line connection, even if it is only giving the user sub-56kbps (yes that is the typical speed of 4G at my house, go a few miles down the road to MCDonald's and I can most of the time happily watch HD music videos). I suspect if websites/content originators were charged in a manner similar to telephone calls,namely charged for connection establishment, data uploaded and duration of call, much of the problem would rapidly disappear, as it would not be in originators interest to overflow a consumers connection.

        What we are seeing here is a major limitation of the existing web/internet protocols. IP (v4 and v6) has no real concept of network quality and so is unable to feedback to a source that it is trying to feed a 1mbps data stream into a 56kbps pipe. TCP, whilst it does have some rate control mechanisms, it uses these to ensure stuff isn't lost. UDP, doesn't care it just allow stuff to be dropped, but doesn't feedback as to why stuff might be being dropped. HTTP et al, likewise have no real QoS, leaving a content originator to effectively rely on the browser id string (User Agent String). Proprietary protocols such as RDP do have some concept of end user experience and do attempt to reduce the datastream in an attempt to maintain a 'usable' service. However, all these protocols are predicated on there being a single connection; with ad's we see that a single page may contain dozens of individual connections, with little real indication as to which connections really are important and which can simply be dropped, other than to compare the URL's and IP addresses with the user entered URL/IP address.

        So we can see that what adblockers and other web content filters are effectively doing is providing a simplistic tool to enable a user to have some control over their experience to enable them to access websites. What we need are a second generation of content blockers that interact with websites so that I get the content presentation appropriate to my connection. With the potential deployment of IPv6 and it's additional packet overheads, such an end-to-end dynamic service quality negotiation protocol is becoming more urgent.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Why ?

          "What we are seeing here is a major limitation of the existing web/internet protocols. IP (v4 and v6) has no real concept of network quality and so is unable to feedback to a source that it is trying to feed a 1mbps data stream into a 56kbps pipe."

          What you are seeing is a major limitation of a network where there's no overlord. Plain and simple, if someone insists on being sent, they'll impersonate a high-priority packet or just wrap the whole business in encryption so you can't tell what's what (and since at least some encrypted connections are high-priority like time-sensitive financial information, you can't de-priorititize encrypted traffic in bulk). About the only way you could defuse this is to create a completely-stateful internet where everything can be identified (but then that defeats the anonymity factor that makes the Internet so appealing at times).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why ?

      or if they are in free wifi and deserve all they get

      On what do you base your opinion that users on free connectivity "deserve all they get"?

  6. cd

    Who bought him out, I wonder? Will he be a Google or FB engineer shortly?

  7. James 100

    Seller's remorse?!

    It's hard to feel any sympathy for him: he produced a tool to block ads, now he's upset that it's being used to block ads!? What did he expect, only 3 people would use it so nobody would ever notice?

    Yes, it's an arms race, and so far on mobile the advertisers have had it virtually all their own way. I've seen ads which actually disable the page they're infecting on mobile devices - fake windows, with a close button which either fails to respond, or loads too far off the edge of the screen to be used. Probably the result of lazy design which assumes it will only ever be used on desktops, but irritating whatever the origins. Time to start blocking that junk!

  8. K Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Sorry el-reg

    I block ads absolutely everywhere these days, I'm shamed to admit, but I even do it here on my favourite site.

    When a page has 3 or 4 targeted and quiet ads on it, thats fine, when a page has 10-20 that takes the piss, then when I read a multi-page articles, which has 10-15 ads on each page, then also have the audacity to have a huge ad between pages, my browser could have downloaded 50-60 different ads. By the time you tie in all the pictures, cookies, JavaScript, tracking pixels, ajax callbacks.. actually ads now constitute 60-70% of the payload and page loading time.

    Its just to much.

    Rather than trying to squeeze revenue from your visitors, reduce the number of ads and hike your advertising fee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry el-reg

      Or offer an ad-free subscription option!! My wallet is in my hand ready to sign up.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Sorry el-reg

        I know a few sites I frequent have an annual donation drive to stay ad free. I'm always happy to chip in $20 on paypal a year to keep it that way.

        We had a bit of a barney on HowToGeek about this a few weeks ago.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry el-reg

          "I know a few sites I frequent have an annual donation drive to stay ad free. I'm always happy to chip in $20 on paypal a year to keep it that way."

          Trouble is, the demographics tend to be worth more by themselves than most people are willing to pay to make them go away. IOW, you lack the selling power of your data.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Sorry el-reg

        I'm happy to get the same as a print publication, hence I would consider an ad subsidised subscription, if you only place a few industry relevant static ad's on each page.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry el-reg

        Dont worry, its coming, the two tier internet for the haves and have nots.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Sorry el-reg

          It's already here. The truly powerful run their own private networks separate from the Internet (Google, for example).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry el-reg

      +1

      Advertisers need also to remember who pays the mobile data bill. It would be interesting to see just what portion of global internet traffic is advertising.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry el-reg

      "Rather than trying to squeeze revenue from your visitors, reduce the number of ads and hike your advertising fee."

      You think they hadn't thought of that already and found out no one would buy? That's why nickel-and-diming tends to be more effective.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right

    So he'll be refunding my money then from the down payment for finding "other work"?

    That's what I thought.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    must be first ever developer

    to abandon his software because it was doing much better than expected. It. Just. Doesn't. Happen. So he was, most probably, bought. Yes, it's easy to throw shit at him, but really, how many of us would turn down a check (and it must have been more than a couple of grand) for _not_ working?

    But it kind of proves how desperate the ad flingers are these days. Ground moving from under their feet? Even the beeb caught the wind and came up with a piece on the "pros and cons of ad-blocking". And nobody's trying to come up with more clever, more... sustainable way of making the internet work, than on the back of selling shitload of shit.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: must be first ever developer

      I think he's the second in recent memory. The first would have been the "Angry Birds" guy... who's now back at it again. He just needed a hiatus.

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