back to article Dry those eyes, ad blockers are unlikely to kill the internet

There's worry out there that the spread of ad blockers will kill off the internet. Or at least, the idea that people are paid to create stuff for it but that people aren't charged to look at it. You know, like, umm, El Reg. This has all come up as Apple has allowed the technology in iOS9, and people started to offer the …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Facepalm

    People who use adblockers...

    Don't use them because they don't want to see ads...

    They use them because they don't like to be annoyed by flashing, noisy and generally irritating crap on their screens while trying to read something...

    And they also use them to have at least a little privacy on the internet instead of being followed around from website to website by all those tracking cookies...

    1. Dave 62

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      As above.

      I'm perfectly happy to be advertised to, in fact sometimes I even like to be advertised to, provided it's succinct, contains actual product information, doesn't cause slow loading, doesn't cover stuff up, isn't overly showy, doesn't track me, isn't full of viruses, unfortunately none of any of that is ever true.

      But even perfectly innocuous not-porn sites can be vulnerable to malvertising, smart phones are still hugely vulnerable and harder to protect or clean, gigantic flash ads eat up your data allowance, take up your whole screen and any attempt to move around to get to the x ends up in clicking the ad, some people even still think ads with sound, at offensive volume, are a good idea.

      El Reg is one of the worst for intrusive flash ads, I tried disabling ABP for you once, it didn't last long.

      1. DaLo

        Re: People who use adblockers...

        Yes agree with this.

        A large proportion of web ads are poor (possibly as they are so cheap to produce compared to TV ads). There are many risks with malware as you have no way of trusting the source (even trusting the advertising agency). The ads are too intrusive and poorly placed.

        However a large number of people visit exhibitions and conferences each year specifically to be marketed and advertised to on all the stalls in the exhibition centre. They or their company actually pays (at least in expenses) to go there. Many of these people will also be using ad blockers.

    2. Stuart 22

      An advertiser confesses ..

      We serve ads on many of our websites. We do not attempt to block adblockers. I block ads myself.

      We assume that people who don't want to see ads won't click on them so its no great loss of revenue. These freetards are still good for business. They make are sites more popular getting better rankings and stuff and hence generate more business.

      Which brings me to my biggest bugbear - Channel 4 who insist that adblockers are disabled (in my case swop out my /etc/hosts file) before I can use their catch-up service. I can only be bothered unless it is a real 'must-see' programme and I take a mental note of the unskippable product/services I forced to watch and avoid using if possible.

      Their advertisers suffer, the channel's viewing figures suffer which must impact future revenue and viability and losing Channel 4 News would be a disaster.

      PS Anybody else having to complete a CAPTCHA to even edit their posts? Not seen it before and lost at least one crafted post as a result. Well perhaps that's a saving grace for you lot!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An advertiser confesses ..

        CH4 catchup wont work if your device is rooted either!!!!

        1. nijam

          Re: An advertiser confesses ..

          Are you saying that people actually watch Channel 4 by choice?

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        At the moment we hve digital TV

        That is: 7to 10 channels showing 5 minute slots of painful adverts between 15 minute slots of John Wayne and Robert Mitchum films and Time-Team extravaganzas. That is a choice of people who act like wood and stone teaching UStory or people who act at digging up wood and stone, teaching us their story between over-long commercials.

        The problem is that in the interval you get tempted to see if it is worth switching to another channel and, having forgotten where they are hidden, you tend to end up waiting for adverts to end. I can't understand how TV companies get money but if there was such a thing as NoScript for TV they might get a few viewers.

        If the Register needs morale petting, get the staff to imagine its web pages going out in the afternoons before the quizz shows, fake auctions, food/fashion magazines and Topgears every day of the week.

        I dare say the comments section might make it past Jeremy Kyle. Would that be difficult?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: At the moment we hve digital TV

          "That is: 7to 10 channels showing 5 minute slots of painful adverts between 15 minute slots of John Wayne and Robert Mitchum films and Time-Team extravaganzas"

          No problem. Everything goes onto the Myth box & the ads get FF at x60.

      3. MJI Silver badge

        Re: An advertiser confesses ..

        I gave up with shITV since they check for the installation of ABP, but I do understand, the first thing you see is an advert, then it tells you off for blocking ads.

        We actually stopped watching a couple of series as they made it too difficult. Comedy in a job centre was one, missed an episode, blocked us on PC so gave up.

        ITV are rubbish though, at least C4 have a console client.

        Easier to use TPB than ITV

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      Exactly.

      I'd be happy to see ads. I just object strongly to things that move on my screen without my asking for it.

      Sadly that applies just as much to a scrolling news ticker as to a tasteless animation advertising games or sex. So adblock is only a partial solution.

      Oh, and to ad-flinging sites like El Reg. If you got rid of the animations, I'd be happy to unblock your adverts. Indeed, not merely happy but keen, as your articles occasionally feature media I might choose to see! Now, bear in mind, that's coming from a geek: I expect I might be core target audience for some of your (currently blocked) advertisers.

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      Don't use them because they don't want to see ads...

      For some of us that's the main reason. Some of us have read The Space Merchants and taken the warning to heart.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: People who use adblockers...

        From the article: "Blockers are simply signalling that they're not the ones who would be interested in, or influenced by, advertising anyway."

        Actually, blockers signal that the end user is savvy enough to know about ad-blockers. Nothing else.

        Everyone in the entire universe says that they are unaffected by advertising, if you ask them...

        1. nijam

          Re: People who use adblockers...

          > Everyone in the entire universe says that they are unaffected by advertising, if you ask them...

          Well, I'm fairly sure that nothing I have ever bought has ever been advertised. At least, I've never seen an advert for anything I've bought in the last couple of years.

          Or maybe it's because I don't watch/read/hear adverts, who knows.

          For advertisers, ad-blockers bring the great benefit of not having their product blacklisted because the advert annoyed a prospective customer.

    5. Filippo

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      Well said. I'm fine with ads. I could even tolerate animated ads. What I don't tolerate is ads that cover content, ads that include audio, ads that slow down page loading (either by being larger than the page itself, or by using heavy scripts), ads that open more pages (bonus points if they attempt to prevent me from closing them), ads that track me, ads that expose me to vulns, and ads that outright lie to me (e.g. anything that contains the words "you won", "click here to claim", or "virus detected").

      When *that* got intolerable, I installed AdBlock. Frankly, I don't see any way for the ads industry to persuade me to uninstall it; if they cleaned up their act, I wouldn't see it. But if they do clean up their act, then one of the next time I have a new computer I may decide not to bother installing it. There's their path to regaining me as a product.

    6. Solanum

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      I use ad blockers because I don't want to see ads.

      In fact, I don't ever want to see ads in any shape or form on any media, they annoy the cr@p out of me. When I want to buy something (and I love buying new stuff as much as the next person), I go look for the information.

      Admittedly, that means I might the last to learn about some amazing new innovative device I haven't even thought might exist. What's that? You can buy an apple made from a watch? Eh?

      1. SineWave242

        Re: People who use adblockers...

        This: "When I want to buy something, I go look for the information." Amen.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: People who use adblockers...

        One forum I use had safe relevant adverts, I used them, I liked them, no problem at all, got to see what they were bringing out new for me to buy.

        This is for a particular hobby, and all advertisers were suppliers to that hobby.

        Now they have moved to "Unable to connect" "Firefox can't establish a connection to the server at adserver.adtech.de."

        Which will NOT be let out of HOSTS.

        Now I don't get to see them and I actually wanted to.

    7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      Bingo.

      The register is an example of one of the worst offenders. If you do not use at least flashblock you get loadavg of 1.5+ by opening any page on the reg. There is always at least one ad that is looping some crap at full CPU throttle.

      By the way - I do not mind seeing a few static ads here and then and I do not mind some level of tracking provided that it is strictly anonymized and restricted to a geography/legal domain which has appropriate legal safeguards on customer data.

      I do mind, however, if the ads are getting in the way. I also mind the admen who are refusing to obey the law and issue nastygrams that the world is coming to an end for nearly anything that is restraining them starting from AdBlock and finishing with actually obeying the data protection and privacy laws.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: People who use adblockers...

        The advertising is not just wasted, it's worse than that.

        People who don't want to see ads yet have to tolerate ads being forced on them will get annoyed. If it is your ad that has annoyed them, then you will lose goodwill with that person and probably a potential customer too, because your company / product is associated with irritation and annoyance.

        If your ad runs scripts that cause my web page to freeze, jump about while images load, or places a big panel over the top of what I want to look at with a difficult to find X to close it, then you can fuck right off and die and take your products/services with you because I will never want any business with you.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Thumb Up

          @werdsmith - Re: People who use adblockers...

          > If it is your ad that has annoyed them, then you will lose goodwill with that person and probably a potential customer too, because your company / product is associated with irritation and annoyance.

          Hear hear!

          A parallel example: I have a big sign on my front door that says "NO Flyers, Menus, Junk Mail", yet still some idiots shove their rubbish through my letter box.

          I take great delight in phoning up the companies involved and informing them that, because of this, there is no way I will ever use their services since their employees have so little respect for my wishes.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

            A parallel example: I have a big sign on my front door that says "NO Flyers, Menus, Junk Mail", yet still some idiots shove their rubbish through my letter box.

            I have a plastic engraved plaque on my letter box flap with the same message and also 'no cold callers'. Like yours it has only partial success. I have seen people hesitate then take their leaflets elsewhere but there's still plenty of them make it through (along with countless refuse sacks for discarded clothes).

            On the plus side the older I get the less inclined I am to worry about what people might think. If someone does knock or ring I'm quite comfortable in catching their eye and then just looking away with complete disinterest. If they appear to be Jehova's lot I'll even throw in a sarcastic head toss and eye roll.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

              I'd ask you to be kinder to leaflet delivery people. They are paid for the number of leaflets that they deliver and because of the time it takes to deliver that number of leaflets, they are effectively working below minimum wage. Each "no leaflets" message they see costs them more time and is one less drop they can make. To do this job you would be fairly desperately in need of some money, but still prepared to earn it with hard work and honest means. Your problem is not with these poor cold and wet guys on the street, it is with the advertisers. So be charitable, take the leaflet and drop it in your recycling, its barely any effort at all. The deliverer gets paid a tiny bit more for his mileage, and it costs the advertiser a tiny bit more. Even asking them to put it straight in your recycling helps them.

              There's a stat somewhere about the number of people in need of medical help that have been rescued, insecure houses that have been reported, crimes prevented and other good deeds that the leaflet droppers have done.

              Oh, and you know those chalk marks that hoaxers were rumouring were indicating houses to be burgled? They are just marks that leaflet droppers make so they know where to start again after running out of leaflets (before kids started making the marks for a laugh).

              *disclaimer: I have no direct connection to leaflet droppers.

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                Each "no leaflets" message they see costs them more time and is one less drop they can make.

                They have 1000 leaflets, and see 100 "no leaflets" signs. So they deliver 900, drop the other 100 in the recycling bin. Who will know, and who will care? They've covered the 1000 houses they were paid for.

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                  I guess they are generally honest people, and the distributors expect them to keep a record of non-delivered addresses and monitor them with a "secret shopper" type network.

                  I actually did this, for a friend who was sick, couldn't do the work and needed to keep going in case they stopped giving him work. Three of us helped him out for 2 weeks. Damn hard work.

                  Things you notice:

                  Those signs (lists) on doors that say "no leaflets, no charity, no canvassers etc are generally usually found in scummy neighbourhoods and on untidy unkempt properties. The residents are usually grumpy, miserable gits. Houses that have welcome mats and decorative flowers etc outside, generally don't have these lists but have happy residents who will take the leaflet with a smile and a thank you.

                  Just an observation.

                  1. big col

                    Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                    Those signs (lists) on doors that say "no leaflets, no charity, no canvassers etc are generally usually found in scummy neighbourhoods and on untidy unkempt properties. The residents are usually grumpy, miserable gits. Houses that have welcome mats and decorative flowers etc outside, generally don't have these lists but have happy residents who will take the leaflet with a smile and a thank you.

                    Just an observation....

                    Or maybe they are people who have other responsabilities such as caring, and are sick to death of people knocking or calling, desterbing the much needed 5 munutes of rest they get each day.

                  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                    "I guess they are generally honest people"

                    And the ones who stick leaflets under windscreen wipers as well?

              2. LDS Silver badge

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                Yes, the delivery people are not the culprits.

                Anyway, usually the ads left in my inbox, especially those from supermarkets, are very useful to clean the cat litter box (especially since newspaper are read on tablets), thereby I don't block them. Internet ads are far less useful... I still have to find really informative ones that brings to an informative website.

                Today even if you are looking for information about a product you usually end in a "branding website" that tries to make you believe your life will change and you feel better if you buy that product, usually using images totally unrelated to the product (often using a lot of young women) - as soon as you try to find specification and prices, you're soon lost in non working links, links bringing you to more images and videos, pages with three lines about specs, and so on...

                There's a real problem in marketing, informing a prospect customer is not their main business today, they're just trying to lure you into believing you have to buy their product just because of the "feel good factor", the less you know about the product the better.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                Nope. Sorry, not with you at all.

                My human sympathy for the leaflet-droppers is no greater than that I feel for the overworked, underpaid fools who cold-call me trying to sell me crap I don't want. In both cases, they're wasting my time and resources, and they have reason to expect me to dislike it. My sympathy for them as humans does not extend to tolerating or facilitating unwanted intrusion on my time and resources.

                I have equal sympathy, but a great deal more respect, for the elderly Asian man who methodically (and neatly!) combs through the bins near my office for returnables each week; HE is supporting himself by his own efforts without littering anyone's doorstep, harassing them at dinner time, or trying to sell them crap they are unlikely to want and have never asked for. Keeping the returnables out of the waste stream is socially useful, to boot.

              4. Graham Marsden

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                > Your problem is not with these poor cold and wet guys on the street, it is with the advertisers.

                FYI, in the past (long before the advent of MW) I have delivered leaflets, so I do know what is involved.

                But you're right that my problem is with the advertisers because if they paid more than the minimum wage, the guys on the street would not be working below it if people put "no flyers" signs on their doors. Of course the advertisers won't pay more, because they'll argue that "if we pay more than the minimum wage, it will mean we have to charge more for our services and that would mean we couldn't employ so many people, so it would be *your* fault they're out of a job" (which actually means "I wouldn't be able to pay myself so much...")

                However the point is that it's *my* front door and just because I have a letter box and a doorbell does *not* mean that everyone is free to shove their rubbish through it or disturb me when I'm working (I work from home), meaning I have to drop everything and find out it's some idiot wanting to sell me something I don't want and wouldn't buy at the front door even if I did or push their religious BS onto me.

                This is no different from my browsing a website and someone's advert being stuck over what I'm trying to read or jumping up and down and flashing in my peripheral vision or unexpectedly blasting out sound from my speakers and if you do that to me, I *WILL* be a grumpy, miserable git!

              5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                "So be charitable, take the leaflet and drop it in your recycling"

                Why should I have to dispose of other people's junk? Ultimately this must cost the local authorities - I doubt mine has the acumen to run recycling at a profit - so we're all expected to pay for crap we don't want.

              6. JimBob01

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                "I'd ask you to be kinder to leaflet delivery people. They are paid for the number of leaflets that they deliver and because of the time it takes to deliver that number of leaflets, they are effectively working below minimum wage. Each "no leaflets" message they see costs them more time and is one less drop they can make.”

                Are you suggesting that they are observed at every single door? How else would a “paid per drop” scheme work? I would assume they are paid to deliver to specific area and provided with a bundle (and reward) based on the approx number of letterboxs - actual delivery just being assumed.

                Many moons ago I had a job delivery free papers and that is how it worked then - used to end up with large piles of undelivered newsprint to dispose of as more and more people realised they could complain about unsolicited papers - and that was in the days before recyclng infrastructure was a thing.

              7. thomn8r

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                Those innocent leaflet droppers are also known to be a cover for casing houses, getting intel on who's not home, whose house has the nicest bits, etc

              8. Munzly The Hermit

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                So what about the climate? All that paper is adding to the world climate problems. Recycling it is not enough, that costs energy as well.

              9. eesiginfo

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers & Leaflet blockers

                While it may not be the case in all countries... certainly in the South of France. accepting leaflet drops is critical to gaining more disposable income OR eaking out a reasonable existence on limited funds.

                Meat is sold everywhere in small quantities at very high prices, for the wealthy... but for everybody else, it is released to the supermarkets in enormous bulk quantities (when herds/flocks are slaughtered).

                One doesn't buy a kilo of liver, one buys 3 or 4 entire livers (or a dozen hearts) @ €1 per Kg.

                Or Duck @ €1.30 per Kg, or pork @ €2.25 per Kg. etc.

                Each type of meat is released at a different time, and is available until it is sold - usually over a 3 day period.

                Therefore the only way you that you can buy meat without stupidly burning your money, is to check through the leaflets.

                It takes no more than 30 seconds to discover if meat has been released onto the market, because the 'meat sale info' is very prominent, and clear (always same format).

                One also, naturally, can choose to glance longer at other leaflets, during the rapid scan.

                When one prominent supermarket stopped having their leaflets in our drop... I just stopped going there... and others must have done the same, because some while afterwards their leaflets began to appear again.

                So the moral of the story is: make your advertising relevant, clear, and easy to identify, and therefore easily avoided.... perhaps an advertising section, effectively allowing you to opt in.

                This would provide the advertisers with a platform, that would be self-targeting; as compared to the current car crash system that forces one to run unthinkingly with adblocker enabled.

                BUT; that will not suit everyone... one woman I know doesn't use adblocker, cos the adverts are part of her lifestyle.

                Perhaps then... an opt in for page ads, otherwise put the ads in an advertising section.... Wow... that sounds a bit like old style newspapers..... oh well... sometimes we go backwards.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

              "If they appear to be Jehova's lot I'll even throw in a sarcastic head toss and eye roll."

              I had a novel experience with them recently. I noticed someone was approaching the front door so I opened it. The elderly gentleman said he was just about to push a leaflet through. He held it up so I could have a glance - then he said "I don't suppose you want this". I politely agreed - and he trotted off.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                "just about to push a leaflet through"

                Years and years ago Belfast was a haven for various denominations handing out religious tracts - it may be yet for all I know. One day someone managed to hand me one - I mustn't have been paying enough attention. Just round the corner another of these nuts came up to try to hand me another. So I held out the one I'd just been given. He blinked a bit but took it. It's nice to get one over on these types now & again.

              2. John Tserkezis

                Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

                "I had a novel experience with them recently."

                An aquaintance once mentioned how he (inadvertantly) dealt with JoHo's.

                He lives on a rural property, hears the doorbell ring, but was busy butchering chickens at the time round the back of the house. He didn't want to trample chook blood through the house, so he walked along the side of the house, wearing a plastic apron, covered in blood to the elbows holding a knife in one hand.

                He peeks around the front, says "yeees?".

                He said they ran pretty quick.

            3. DwarfPants

              Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

              What you don't like the free bin liner delivery service, I have not brought a bin bag for a few years now.

            4. Graham Marsden
              Unhappy

              AndrueC - Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

              > I have a plastic engraved plaque on my letter box flap with the same message and also 'no cold callers'

              For brevity I didn't include the full version which is printed in big letters on an A4 sheet and says:

              NO

              FLYERS

              MENUS

              JUNK MAIL

              SURVEYS

              COLD CALLERS

              RELIGIOUS PERSONS

              YES, THIS DOES MEAN YOU!

              There are still those stupid enough or arrogant enough to ignore it :-(

            5. MJI Silver badge

              Re: @werdsmith - People who use adblockers...

              charity bags

              We love them

              Free bin nags

        2. Fortycoats

          Re: People who use adblockers...

          Agree with you werdsmith. And not just internet ads, either.

          Some radio ads can be really annoying, and those companies end up on my "Do-not-buy-anything-from-these-gits" list. In fact, I don't even change the radio channel, I switch it off. Silence is better than that rubbish. So the ad-men have achieved the opposite of what they wanted.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: People who use adblockers...

            Radio ads - Admiral caused me to not listen to the radio for about a year, high pitched whistle nearly caused crashes. Now use BBC local radio since our ILR got Borged

            TV ads - entertaining ones get watched, and if it is for a game I like the look of watched multiple times. But otherwise skip skip skip

            Internet ads - only viewed on certain forums when ads are related, and are of things I am actually interested in, otherwise blocked

    8. big_D Silver badge

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      I don't have Flash installed and I run NoScript and only allow the main domain I'm visiting to run scripts. The advertising sites are blocked from running scripts. They can serve me static images and text if they want, but not nothing interactive.

      The biggest problem is the bandwidth. I think the advertising shouldn't add more than about 30% to the volume of traffic being loaded from a page. The problem is, it is often 300-400%... And then you have all those damned libraries that are linked to and add yet more MBs to the "bill", just for a couple of hundred bytes in one function!

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: People who use adblockers...

        "I think the advertising shouldn't add more than about 30% to the volume of traffic being loaded from a page."

        UK commercial teleivsion is restricted to 12 minutes of adverts per hour, so that's a limit of 20%.

        Ok, a better comparison is if you look at it as 48mins of content having 12mins of adverts added on, then that's a 25% increase in bandwidth use.

    9. Martin Kirk

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      Some of us don't want see ads at all. Period. End of story.

    10. Zane

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      Agree.

      I'm not only fine with ads, I will even click ones that are interesting. It's also ok if they're personalized, although that can be embarrassing in a lot of ways.

      Hate everything that disturbs me or gets in the way. Please - no overlays, no stuff that hides the content I was looking for, no autostart vids, no vids that delay access, even worse: vids with sound - especially if you have lots of tabs open. I wonder when the people using these adverts understand that this works backwards - if at all, it's an indication to avoid the company.

    11. Anonymous John

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      I don't mind them as such, but if I buy a newspaper, I don't have to wait while the newsagent goes next door for the fliers to put in it. And when reading it on the train, nobody has yet walked down the aisle and pasted an advert over the article I was reading.

      Yet some websites see both as acceptable.

      1. Fink-Nottle

        Re: People who use adblockers...

        ... sign up now to GoCompare's new ad blocker comparison site.

    12. This Side Up

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      "Some of [advertising], a great deal of it in fact, really is information about what's available out there."

      True, but the essential difference is that if I need information I'll go and look for it. Unwanted ads are those that are stuck in my face when I'm trying read something else, or distract me. Those ad-slingers aren't doing themselves any favours. At best I'll just close the pop-up window; at worst I'll make sure that I never consider buying the offending product or service.

      To be honest, EL Reg isn't a problem. I use a platform and browser that doesn't support much of the functionality they require (including Flash). I have ads, pop-up windows, animated gifs and javascript normally disabled. Static ads at the side of the page don't bother me.

    13. JDKelley

      Re: People who use adblockers...

      I would be less bothered by advertisements online IFF:

      - They would stop trying to make me spend money I don't have on things I neither need nor want.

      - They would stop being insulting to my intellect

      - They would stop being insulting to the meanest of intellects

      - They would be appealing to more than the basest of intellects

      - They would make much LESS use of flashing graphics

      - They would /not/ autoplay sound and/or video and interrupt whatever I was doing

      - They would /not/ pop over or pop under in the middle of my screen, in the way

      - They would /not/ pollute my system with tracking cookys, malways, Trojans, or other crap that causes firewall hits

      - They would /not/ have virii riding sidecar with them.

      Me? I use an adblocker? I don't need the adverts I don't want to see, "monetizing" every damned email account I have, clogging up my bandwidth. Perhaps if everything weren't so busy being "monetized" (another neologism that needn't exist,) the economy wouldn't be in the shambles it's in?

  2. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Half the advertising is wasted? Try 99% as a conservative estimate.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: 99%

      The figure was 90% when I first heard the story about 40 years ago and back then nearly everyone was watching the same few TV channels and reading the same few major papers.

      I'm sure the only question now is how many nines.

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Umm

    Equally uninformed I see a flaw in that argument.

    I don't/can't just block the ads that are shitty, intrusive,disgusting etc.

    I block 'em all.

    I have to.

    Or else the web pages I want to look at will be obscured by flashing banners telling me about dodgy gaming sites and brightly coloured objects sliding across the screen, and so on.

    I have no problem with sites carrying ads.

    I might even give them a sceptical glance.

    But the ads do not, on the whole, give useful information. They throw, at best, illusory marketing gush like the beer ad mentioned in the article. And mostly hard sell cr*p of no value whatsoever.

    I have a major problem with an internet that barely exists, because it's been buried by a deluge of unwanted rubbish.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Umm

      I think that's semantics. If provision of information about a product is not advertising, what is it?

      Case in point. My mum's ancient TV has expired. I'll be buying a new one for her and installing it next week-end. I spent last night searching for information on the sort of TVs that my mum wants, and now have a list of three likely-looking models.

      Tonight I'll be downloading the userguides. (Mum is ninety-plus and is confused by digital TV, let alone anything "smart".) If the spec sheet was crap you've already lost the sale. If the userguide is crap, you will do.

      No need to disable my ad-blocker. I got the impression Google had worked out what I was looking for and was returning helpfully biassed search results, but maybe I'm crediting it with too much AI and I'm just good at Googling.

      1. Whitter
        Boffin

        Re: New TV

        Is she a sky-box/virgin-box user or TV-via-freeview? If freeview (like myself), she'll be using the TV's native Electronic Program Guide and therein lie dragons. My Samsung has about the worst EPG I've ever seen. Cutting to the chase: try out the remote in the shop (and ask them to turn off "shop-mode" colour settings while you are about it).

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: New TV

          Freeview. Thanks for the warning about the Samsung native EPG (assuming it's not just your one model). One particular Samsung is top of the list at present, along with Panasonic and LG. Yes, was intending to try out the remotes in a shop before taking mum shopping (if she wants to go shopping at all). Userguides might tell me enough, though.

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: New TV

            If you go for the latest Panasonics, they have Freeview Play integrated, so backwards EPG for access to the catch up services and so on.

            I've not seen the EPG in those myself, but I think it's similar to the Play EPG in the Humax box, which I did see

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: New TV

          she'll be using the TV's native Electronic Program Guide

          At ninety-plus she's probably still using the Radio Times, and marking what she wants to watch with an X, just like mine... :)

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: New TV

            Yep, then going to sleep and missing it and having me download it onto a USB stick for her to forget 'can you do that blue plug thing again dear?' :)

    2. The Travelling Dangleberries

      Re: Umm

      As far as I am concerned, a web browser without full ad-blocking is just an electronic advertising billboard that I pay to look at.

  4. Tony Paulazzo

    So, people who don't even get served ads by blocking the very possibility are those upon which the ads would have been wasted anyway.

    Halle-fucking-lujah!

    Altho'... the more intrusive page blocking ads are also driving away people who might be interested in your ads, and the growing awareness that malware can come from those ads is also driving away potential customers who don't hate advertising. Time to clean up your house!

    My personal take on advertisers?

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy describes the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as:

    "A bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes."

    Curiously, an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica which conveniently fell through a rift in the time-space continuum from 1000 years in the future describes the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as:

    "A bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But here's the rub. People can get jaded pretty quickly. To paraphrase the late Terry Pratchett, things become "normal" and we start to ignore them. That's what happened with unobtrusive web ads. People started ignoring them more and more, no matter the content, so returns on them went down to the point they had to push back. And this is not a new phenomenon nor restricted to electronic media. Advertisers are fully aware that sometimes the only way to get attention (and to them, any attention is positive attention) is to shock and awe. Would you believe I read this in a book that went as far back as World War II? E.E. "Doc" Smith touched on it several times all the way back in First Lensman.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        First Lensman

        Indeed he did - and also pointed out that the first point of contact between two civilisations was that both ignored the advertisments...

        "Eat Teegmee's Food!"

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "But given that advertising does change sales numbers, that cannot actually be true."

    What metrics do advertisers have to gauge the effect of advertising?

    Say you advertise to 100 people and one of them comes along and buys whatever it is you're flogging. What do you know about the other 99?

    You may assume that they're not in the market for the product, that you found the one who was and therefore you were completely successful.

    This, however, assumes a lot. There might have been 10 people in the market for the product who'd have found their way to you but your ad pissed off the other 9 so that they've gone elsewhere.

    You may be a little less happy with this outcome but it could be worse, 5 of those 9 might have been regular customers who are now somebody else's customers instead.

    Does the advertising industry do any research on this? I suspect not - it might frighten off their clients. I remain convinced that the only products and people to whom the advertising industry successfully advertises are themselves to the clients.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      What metrics do advertisers have to gauge the effect of advertising?

      Obligatory Dilbert comment (plus as a bonus it's a bigger Sunday strip):

      1. captain veg

        Oddly enough...

        It was the Dilbert web site that prompted me to start adblocking in the first place. Once I discovered that the interminable wait for the pages to load was entirely down to the advertising, I never looked back.

        This is the problem with online advertising as currently constructed. The value is not neutral, not even close. It is unremittingly negative. And is likely to become a problem even to us blockers, because the alternatives which might tempt revenue-challenged site owners include the likes of undeclared product placement and advertorial.

        -A.

        1. BobRocket

          Re: Oddly enough...

          The only thing wrong with Dilbert is no mouseover, whereas this https://xkcd.com/870/ tells you all you need to know about online advertising and has a mouseover.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      "What metrics do advertisers have to gauge the effect of advertising?"

      Plenty, actually. Those cookies that track you from site to site allow advertisers to know, for each particular ad, how many people clicked on it, and from those, how many people purchased anything. Very often as an initial limited campaign there are multiple versions of the same basic ad being randomly served to determine which version gets the best click-through and conversion rates, to then use that version in a full-blown campaign. I'm guessing that by now ad-slingers would also have some good benchmarks as to click-through and conversion rates. In other words, they will have a VERY good idea as to how well one particular ad or campaign is working *compared to their benchmarks* (ie relatively)

      As to how do they know the ads are working in the absolute sense, I guess that the more tech-savvy clients have a good understanding of their normal sales patterns and compare that to the sales during and immediately after a particular campaign, adjusting for random variations, seasonal differences etc etc

      1. Steven Roper

        "Those cookies that track you from site to site allow advertisers to know..."

        What those tracking cookies also allow advertisers to know is what your interests are. The same advertising agency will place ads on multiple sites. Google, of course, has its tentacles into just about every site on the internet, but others turn up on a very regular basis, as a glance at NoScript's Options list will tell you whenever you visit a site.

        Every time you visit a site with an ad by that ad agency, its builds a list tied to a unique ID linked to you. They might not know your name and address, but they know every site you visited that has their stuff embedded in it - in effect, what they have is at least a partial duplicate of your browser history. In fact more than your browser history because if you're browsing in privacy mode your browser isn't storing your history but those ad trackers certainly are. Furthermore, those trackers not only store what pages you visit and when, but how long you spend on each one and some of them even track where your mouse goes and what parts of the page you scroll to. With Google Analytics being nearly universally deployed that means Google have your complete browser history whether you're using Chrome, or in privacy mode, or not.

        Ad agencies use this information to "tailor" ads to what they think you're most likely to click on. So if you've been browsing sites that review and/or sell things like RealDolls, sex toys, fetish gadgets and so on, you can expect ads for those things to start appearing even on sites that have nothing to do with them. Depending on your computer-sharing situation, this can lead to some really awkward questions.

        Not only that, but insurance companies also pay ad companies for this data. When they correlate it with other identifying information they most certainly can find out who you are. And if you've been browsing health sites looking for ways to stop smoking or asking questions about why you keep waking up at 3AM with a screaming gutsache, you'll suddenly find you're paying rather more for your premiums than most people.

        It is this sort of thing that concerns me the most with online ads. I don't want to be tracked and profiled and have a map of my likes and dislikes methodically built up by people I've never met and don't know. I find the very idea of being pried on and a dossier being worked up about me for the purpose of being milked and exploited in this fashion intolerably odious.

        And before anyone gives me that worn-out bullshit about "nobody cares about your likes and dislikes and shit," YES THEY FUCKING DO. They don't care on a personal level, no, but they still collect the information and use analytics software to draw conclusions about it. Some of those conclusions will be erroneous, but may potentially lead to problems for me down the track, say when I want to travel or buy insurance or apply for credit, for instance.

        That is my primary reason for using adblockers.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "Plenty, actually. Those cookies that track you from site to site [...]"

        Which takes us straight back to the article, because those cookies *don't* track the sort of people who install ad-blockers.

        "As to how do they know the ads are working in the absolute sense, I guess that the more tech-savvy clients have a good understanding of their normal sales patterns and compare that to the sales during and immediately after a particular campaign, adjusting for random variations, seasonal differences etc etc"

        Good luck adjusting for all that. If we assume that one of the motivations for launching a new campaign is a dip in sales, then reversion to the mean will give you a rise after the campaign. Similarly, a new product launch will have associated ads but ... you've got a new product, dammit! Of course you'll see renewed interest.

        So my guess is that *none* of the evidence of the effectiveness of advertising would pass peer review if submitted to a decent scientific journal.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        " Those cookies that track you from site to site allow advertisers to know, for each particular ad, how many people clicked on it, and from those, how many people purchased anything."

        You're missing the point (apart from the fact that I'll never even see the ad).

        The point is that such metrics only tell them how many positive responses they get. They don't know the effect on all those who didn't click - whether they just ignore the add or take note and decide NEVER TO BUY ANYTHING WHATSOEVER FROM THOSE WEASELS THIS SIDE OF THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE.

    3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Randolph Hearst

      In a publishing war Hearst discovered that increasing circulation brought better advertising revenues and he could afford to print an 8 cent newspaper for 1 cent, thus gaining even more advertising. Newspaper ads are almost unseen by regular readers.

      All this was well known half a century before WW2. I don't know what effect Adblockers will have but I wish to find out. As far as I can see it could either mean all journalism will take the form of experts taking the time to explain things properly or retired experts writing their memoirs. We quidpropanes being the beneficiaries.

      What could possibly go wrong with that unless HMG and The Americans get hold of the Assange and Snowden types. Could they catch them all?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ummm 2

    Well some of the adblockers offer the possibility to allow "non intrusive adverts" on the pages you browse so that you don't get inundated by blaring bling but still allow the web site to get some money from ads.

    The problem is of course to agree what "non intrusive" adverts are.....

    1. Tromos

      Re: Ummm 2

      The problem is of course to agree what "non intrusive" adverts are.....

      Obviously, they are the ones that pay the author of the ad-blocker the "I'm not intrusive" fee.

      1. The Commenter formally known as Matt

        Re: Ummm 2

        Well presumably they (the adblocker dev) will define non-intrusive. I'd start with does not expand/hide other content. Does not auto play sound , does not auto play video on mobiles. Does not have 3rd party tracking cookies etc etc

        1. BoldMan

          Re: Ummm 2

          The adblocker s/w itself doesn't define what is and isn't intrusive, its the people who develop the rules and those rules include "allow the ones who pay us to allow them to be seen".

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Ummm 2

          I'd give you three out of four there. I think dropping a 3rd party tracking cookie is pretty non-intrusive in the sense that 90% of the population probably don't realise that it ever happens.

          But the other three? Absolutely, and I'd be shocked to find anyone who reckoned that auto-playing audio was not intrusive. Makes me want to punch the advertiser in the face every time it happens and my usual response is to hit the back button in the browser and make a mental note not to visit the site hosting the ad.

          1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Goole i becoming unusable

            VIrtually every question I ak it has a shaped answer that should suit me except it has not ben designed to suit me but their adverts. The sites I get sent to take hell of a lot of combing through/past so that I no longer use Google directly but the alternatives have all been exploited by happyknownothings working in the G-cement mixer grinding everything down to zero-G usefulness.

            All the result of doing no evil's marketing strategy and anyway how do you suppose they are cute enough to rob the original site with sub-ads?

            I wish it was a fantasy. Or rather I wish someone would enter the fantacy wearing women's stocking either over their underpants or over their heads and do the decent thing.

  7. John Hawkins

    If adverts weren't so irritating I'd not block them

    While I realise that adverts are often designed to attract attention, I find any movement on a page unsettling and sometimes a little nauseating. A bit like with the infamous <blink> tag of yore.

    So I block ads even if, as Tim notes, some are probably interesting to me as a potential customer.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: If adverts weren't so irritating I'd not block them

      It would indeed be interesting to know the percentage of people who actually find advertising demotes rather than promotes the product that they are trying to push. As in makes people actively hostile towards it, and towards its purchase.

      There does seem to be a trend that way these days, in that they think getting it into ones brain is enough, regardless of whether it's a positive or negative association. Not just on the web, but think of adverts like (for example) all the new lottery ones with Piers Morgan, Katie Price and Laurence Llewellyn Bowen (or however you spell it). Specifically designed to associate the brand with people who the public ridicule and dislike (generally speaking) as a means of advertising.

      Maybe it's clever (after all it seems to have got the Lottery into my memory), but I do wonder if certain brands would have better sales if they just did nothing in terms of advertising.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: If adverts weren't so irritating I'd not block them

        Well, didn't someone once say, "There's no such thing as bad publicity?" That even disgust gets people to talk about the subject which helps spread things by word of mouth?

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: If adverts weren't so irritating I'd not block them

          "There's no such thing as bad publicity?"

          That only applies to a very special class, people who make their living based on being known - like pop-starts, actors or politicians - for who there really is nothing worse than being forgotten. Anybody else making their living with something else that the ads only promote actually stands to lose quite a lot by sufficiently negative publicity.

  8. msknight Silver badge

    If advertisers want to reach me...

    They are going to have to abandon the old model.

    What I want are transparent reviewers. YouTubers if it comes to it ... but not the people who sell out for a particular brand.

    Trust is, in my opinion, the currency on the internet.

    I'd like to see a transparent fund with a regulated fee.

    Each Tuber will have specific audiences that they speak to. I prefer some of the more straightforward reviewers that don't have fancy shmancy stuff, get down to the figures and do it in a compact manner. Some Tubers have a lot of editing, fancy titles and stuff (hey can keep it IMHO, but they'll have their own audience)

    So, these tubers set a rate of £x as entry to their channel. For that, a merchant gets to have their stuff reviewed. It's therefore a level playing field with everyone paying the same transparent rate. And as the reviewer is basically free from too much bias, the manufacturer had better make sure that their products are up to snuff ... 'cause the Tuber serves their audience, because if the audience detects a shill, they'll vacate faster than a room full of Microsoft techs when Tim Cook shows up on stage.

    (Jacln Glenn took a nearly 16% drop in her patreon after the plagiarism scandal hit - http://graphtreon.com/creator/Jaclyn )

    If a manufacturer continues to get lousy reviews and gets in a huff ... let 'em leave, 'cause their goods ain't no good.

    They need to move to a new model, 'cause the old one don't work no more.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: If advertisers want to reach me...

      But what would that fee bee? Unless it's incredibly small, you automatically bias these types of reviews towards the big companies with a large marketing budget, because small ones may have an innovative product, but they won't have the money to ensure widespread coverage.

      If it's too small, however, you're not going to get people doing a really thorough job as a reviewer, if that's their day job. You're only going to get people who can afford to do it for pocket money while they have a 'real' job that pays, or those who will rush through as many reviews as they can to make enough to pay the mortgage.

      Not to mention, I think a lot of people would be pretty distrustful of a situation in which the manufacturers were directly paying the reviewers. That's exactly the sort of thing that does open up people to accusations of bias, and it would take a big mindshift to change people's views.

      Five years ago, I did a series of blog posts about How reviews work and I don't think much has changed (except, of course, the rate for the job still hasn't kept up with inflation).

    2. dogged

      Re: If advertisers want to reach me...

      IGN on mobile has an ad that takes up the whole page. When you try to close it, it offers you choices about what to do, and why you're trying to close the ad. One of these choices is "ad covers whole page". If you press it, it doesn't do anything. Neither do any of the others. You're stuck with the ad and no content.

      Luckily I'm on WM10 preview so I can just press "reading mode" but otherwise, the ad has literally made the page absolutely worthless.

      This is the kind of shit that goes on.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: If advertisers want to reach me...

        I've seen plenty of that sort of rubbish; or a close button that doesn't actually close, and instead opens a new tab on the advertiser's web site, so I can never actually read the content. Or those pages where you've started reading and scrolled down, and suddenly an ad covers up what you're reading. Or the ones that mysteriously bounce you to an app's page in the Play store.

        So, while I am very much in favour of people like me being paid for the words that I write, I entirely understand why so many readers get frustrated with the experience of actually trying to read those words, and end up installing an ad blocker.

        Digital publishing is more or less a teenage industry these days. And like far too many teenagers, it's self-harming.

    3. chris 48

      Re: If advertisers want to reach me...

      I think you've just described "Which?". We already have that.

  9. Drefsab_UK

    Typically ad blocking used to be the domain of the more technically litterate user (after all you can't expect the average granny to mess about with hosts files etc).

    Then the apps like adblock plus came along making ad blocking more accessable. As adpotoin grew more people then were seeing the vast difference between an internet infected with ads and a clean fast internet without them. People like this and ad blocking adoption grows because of this.

    While its true I think a bulk of the more techie users who know how to block ads are those that ad's would be wasted upon, with this ever more accessable blocking methods that no longer really holds up.

    Joe public if given the choice will say no ads please, yet if deprived of the option may still be exactly the type of person ad's would work on. This is exactly what the ad slingers are worried about. They know that most people if given the easy choice would block ad's, and they know that there is going to be a large portion of those people that would actually positively impact sales if they saw the ad's. They know as blocking becomes easier more and more joe public will take it up and they will loose ad impression's on people who would impact sales.

    Tough luck to the ad slingers in my eyes.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      assumptions

      "They know that most people if given the easy choice would block ad's,"

      I doubt the know that, but being advertising people, they think a lot of stuff.

      "and they know that there is going to be a large portion of those people that would actually positively impact sales if they saw the ad's."

      They have no idea about that. In fact I'd go so far as to say that if they say that, they're lying.

  10. Mage Silver badge

    Surely ...

    The Ad blocking would really hurt folk like Google. Most of it makes very little income for advertisers compared with costs. Especially for anyone not "global megacorp" or at least large national company.

    Sites relying on Adverts would no doubt host the ads as part of their own content, and then you can't block them. From security and performance aspect, that is preferable.

    I don't believe I've ever clicked on an ad and can't remember buying anything from an advert since I stopped buying magazines, other than on Amazon or eBay. Even then, I would have had a requirement and search the adverts. Now I look at ebay, Amazon, specific suppliers, I search using Golden Pages / Google etc if I can't find what I want.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Surely ...

      The Ad blocking would really hurt folk like Google

      Really? How do you find a product when you want to buy one? I'm pretty sure that if scattergun intrusive malware-vectoring browser-crashing web-advertizing dies out, it will benefit Google, not hurt them.

    2. Samuel Penn

      Re: Surely ...

      I'd be interested to know how much I'm worth to Google. i.e., how much would and individual need to pay each month for Google's services in order to offset the amount Google get paid advertising to us?

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Surely ...

        Maybe take Google's annual sales and divide by the population of the West? Ho hum ... hit quote.yahoo.com ...

        Google market cap $448 Bn, price/sales ratio 6.37, so sales about $70 Bn. Population of the Western world must be about a billion. So $70 p.a.? Doesn't feel expensive. A dozen pints or four domain names or three months' broadband connection.

        What do we reckon for a Bing subscription?!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely ...

        Odds are, it's "Whatever it is, you can't afford it."

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Surely ...

      "Sites relying on Adverts would no doubt host the ads as part of their own content, and then you can't block them. From security and performance aspect, that is preferable."

      They'd also make damn sure they weren't blocking content.

    4. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Surely ...

      "Sites relying on Adverts would no doubt host the ads as part of their own content, and then you can't block them."

      Yes you could still block ads hosted by a site if there was something consistent to latch onto, e.g. if they were always in a particular set of image urls then you could not retrieve anything matching that pattern. Though obviously you would only be doing that if the ads were intrusive (or were on a low data allowance and images were large).

  11. TRT Silver badge

    There is software that blocks ads???!!!

    If only there were some way to reach out and tell people that a product like this exists...

    1. Thunderbird 2

      Re: There is software that blocks ads???!!!

      I take that [BEGIN SARCASM] & [END SARCASM] tags were implied

      or omg heaven forbid, removed by El Reg's moderators :¬)

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: There is software that blocks ads???!!!

        They tags would be there if I ever stopped being sarcastic.

        The question is, was I being sarcastic in the last sentence?

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: There is software that blocks ads???!!!

      If only there were some way to reach out and tell people that a product like this exists...

      Try advertizing. (The old-fashioned way, in a newspaper or magazine, where all ads are "good" ads due to the natural limitations of the medium).

      Is this irony? Not sure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is software that blocks ads???!!!

        "Try advertizing. (The old-fashioned way, in a newspaper or magazine, where all ads are "good" ads due to the natural limitations of the medium)."

        And if people are too jaded to notice? Advertisers have been trying to work on jaded audiences for decades.

  12. Bc1609

    Not entirely convinced by the postulate

    "...the people who will use [ad blocking] are the people upon whom the advertising was wasted in the first place".

    I don't think it's as clear cut as that. What we need is a Venn diagram, but I'll do what I can in text.

    There are some people who will never be affected by advertising, and use ad blockers. These people are, as you point out, no loss to the advertiser. In fact, it's probably a win for the advertiser that these people have removed themselves from the audience.

    There are other people who would be affected by some ads, though not all. I suspect this is the majority of people. A subset of these people will use an adblocker (and I suspect that this group forms the majority of adblocker users). This subset is using a blocker not because they have no interest in any advertising, but because they have no interest in some or even most advertising, and/or are aware of the risks posed by malware infected ads, and/or don't want irritating pop-ups and flashing lights, and/or find ads for impossibly-proportioned Russian brides quite unpleasant and don't want to see them. For these people, using a blocker removes the stuff they don't want to see (which is why they use it), but it also removes the stuff that they wouldn't mind seeing (or, in some weird cases, would want to see). So there is a loss to the advertiser, there. The question is whether or not it's a net loss.

    At this point it comes down to percentages. The majority of ads that my blocker removes are things that I would never click on, or would not affect my purchasing (Russian brides, Github for Lesbians, etc.). However, I'm human, and there are things I want, and there is at least a theoretical attack vector there - I'm sure there are ads that could affect my purchasing decisions if I saw them (though I can't think of an example off the top of my head). So I'm blocking both useful and useless ads (useful to the advertiser, that is).

    My blocking the useful ads hurts the advertiser because they're losing the opportunity to influence me, but my blocking the useless ads doesn't hurt the advertiser, and, depending on the payment scheme being used, could help them (if they don't have to pay to show me an ad that won't affect me). Does the benefit (to the advertiser) outweigh the harm? That's something you need a lot more data to determine.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Not entirely convinced by the postulate

      You've missed out a whole set. The people who are so pissed off by being pestered that they'll go out of their way to avoid the product being advertised, even products or services they're already using. In this case the money spend on advertising isn't just wasted, it's counter-productive.

      I doubt the advertising industry has any numbers on this. If they have I'd be surprised if they shared them with the clients.

      My blocking ads might actually benefit the ultimate advertiser (the business with the product to sell) as they don't get the opportunity to gain my undying aversion to whatever they're pushing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not entirely convinced by the postulate

        Probably because it's so small. I doubt there are really a whole lot of people who would abandon their habit at the drop of a hat just because they happened to notice some weird ad for their product (I mean, have you seen someone actually do," Ack! That Coke ad is terrible! I'm switching to Pepsi!"). People get jaded; they just start ignoring it unless it's something beyond the pale, and ad men are smart enough not to do that: particularly because that can also produce a legal angle.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Not entirely convinced by the postulate

          > have you seen someone actually do," Ack! That Coke ad is terrible! I'm switching to Pepsi!"

          Yes, as a matter of fact, and with those very same products too. There was a lot more swearing involved though.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not entirely convinced by the postulate

          "I doubt there are really a whole lot of people who would abandon their habit at the drop of a hat just because they happened to notice some weird ad for their product"

          IIRC it happened to a premium beer/lager/cider? brand in the 1980/90s. They changed their advertising to appeal to a younger audience. They failed to get them - and in the process they lost previously staunch customers who didn't want to be associated with that new image.

          The same thing happened with Faberge Brut in the 1970s. In an attempt to extend their market share they produced a down-market version of their Brut range. It was called Brut 33 and was heavily promoted on TV with adverts featuring sports stars like Henry Cooper, Kevin Keegan, and Barry Sheene. Previous users of the more expensive Brut didn't like the new image - and stopped buying it.

          A sample:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE41P5N6wuQ

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Not entirely convinced by the postulate

            I bought a new TV last month. I did a little research, found what was available that met my requirements (not many but I am a Luddite), and then decided after looking at them. With real pictures, in a shop.

            Throughout this whole process, the Ad-blocker remained firmly on. I am utterly at a loss as to how any advertising might have changed my selection - particularly as I wasn't looking for the latest and greatest glitziest toy.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not entirely convinced by the postulate

            The current EE advertising campaign appears to be marketed at, ahem... gay chavs. Is that going to tell their existing customer base that they aren't the market that EE wants?

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not entirely convinced by the postulate

          "Probably because it's so small."

          The whole advertising industry is based on this assumption. But I doubt they'll take the trouble to check on it. Much too dangerous.

  13. auburnman

    Interesting viewpoint...

    If we look at it it from this angle, then Google must secretly love AdBlock*. If marketing are saving some budget on not paying for ads that were unwanted anyway, that's more $ to sling into sponsored search results and Google shopper etc?

    *On desktops anyways, I presume Adblocking on Android slabs would eat into their cut?

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Interesting viewpoint...

      Hold on - are you saying there are supposed to be ads on my phone...? I must be very lucky, I can't remember ever seeing one. Well, that, or self-selection - if it needs "network" permission, it's either a browser or it doesn't get installed on my phone (or if I absolutely cannot avoid it, it faceplants straight into AFWall+).

  14. Known Hero

    well...

    If adverts really worked that well, Then google would be having a bit of trouble being the worlds most useful search tool. If I need something there is a bloody good tool to find it.

    Can't stand advertising myself, it ever so rarely applies to myself and even if I do see something that interests me, I am so Jaded by every other deceitful piece of advertisement I am immediately untrusting of the product, Therefore going out and having a look for something else or what is better anyway.

    I have no problem with a blanket ban on EVERY AD with an ad blocker, but allow micro payments as donations to websites, Non mandatory.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The question I want to know in relation to advertisements on websites is did anyone actually win that iPad?

    1. BobRocket

      More Importantly

      Did anyone win the DVLA Seat

  16. bencurthoys

    Before you assume that ads that aren't clicked on are wasted, have a bit of a read up on things like

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mere-exposure_effect

    If you constantly see ads for a brand, *even if* you think you're too clever to be swayed by advertising or you aren't in the market for a thing at that particular time, if and when you are, you will prefer that brand that you've seen loads of adverts for to the one you've never heard of.

    Car adverts are a good example: they aren't attempting to make you drop everything and go and buy a car now. Most of the people who see car adverts aren't in the market for a car right now, but if they might ever buy a car ever in the future, then that ad isn't a waste.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Before you assume that ads that aren't clicked on are wasted, have a bit of a read up on things like

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mere-exposure_effect"

      And before you assume that they aren't wasted consider the possibility that the effect might be negative.

      "Car adverts are a good example"

      Indeed. A very good example. I bought a new car a couple of years ago. Within a very few weeks I started getting texts and marketing calls from the dealer (or at least from the dealer's marketing agency). Did they think the brand new car they'd sold me was such crap that i was going to go out & replace it? And if it was did they think it wouldn't have been a claim under warranty backed up by solicitor's letters? Despite telling the callers to stop it continued. It only stopped when I got hold of the MD's email address and informed him in no uncertain terms that although they'd get the servicing for the remainder of the warranty they'd get no further business from me ever because of their pestering.

      Mere exposure certainly works but not as intended.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Mere-exposure_effect

      As explained by Hannibal Lecter:

      "We begin by coveting what we see every day"

    3. James Micallef Silver badge

      "...if and when you are, you will prefer that brand that you've seen loads of adverts for to the one you've never heard of.

      Car adverts are a good example"

      And yet, given that I am exposed to adverts for about 20 different brands of cars i.e. every single brand available in my locality, surely the net effect is to cancel each other out?

      It's basically a stupid arms race - if none of them advertised, everyone would still know what brands are available simply by seeing them in the streets, the net effect on sales would be basically zero and each of the car companies has saved a mint. But just because 1 of them is doing it, they all have to do it to keep up??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And yet, given that I am exposed to adverts for about 20 different brands of cars i.e. every single brand available in my locality, surely the net effect is to cancel each other out?"

        That's why the shock and awe. They're trying to get the most attention from you so that it sticks in your mind the most. So that out of all those 20-some car makes, theirs is the one that sticks out when you think, "I need a new car."

        "It's basically a stupid arms race - if none of them advertised, everyone would still know what brands are available simply by seeing them in the streets, the net effect on sales would be basically zero and each of the car companies has saved a mint. But just because 1 of them is doing it, they all have to do it to keep up??"

        Yup, because otherwise one may not know where to start looking. Sure, you say just look on the street. Only thing is, there are lots of streets. Sometimes, product searching becomes like trying to find a (nonferrous) needle in a haystack.

    4. Nigel 11

      Most of the people who see car adverts aren't in the market for a car right now, but if they might ever buy a car ever in the future, then that ad isn't a waste.

      Straying slightly off topic, this is why VW's defeat device was such an incredibly stupid idea. "It takes years to build a reputation, and seconds to destroy one". VW can't even start to try to rebuild its reputation until its legal woes finally drop out of the newspapers. Does VW have that long?

      Which is why I actually believe its top brass. It must have been a rogue techie doing for engineering, what rogue traders have done for banking on several occasions.

      And I still haven't forgiven Sony.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        wrong, wrong, wrong.

        What VW's done is to demonstrate to the masses that there are better ways to improve your MPG than buying a Prius or SMART.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        Straying slightly off topic, this is why VW's defeat device was such an incredibly stupid idea. "It takes years to build a reputation, and seconds to destroy one"

        Disclaimer: this may work somewhat differently on cynical bastards like me. As far as I'm concerned, VW destroyed or lost precisely nothing - I'm certainly not going to applaud them for what they did, but I'm absolutely convinced all major players either do something similar or do some entirely different but equally unsavory other stuff. So I'm convinced that righteously fainting in horror and going to someone else would gain me (or protect me from) a big fat nothing.

        On the other hand, I've seen their engineering - I happen to have a short PDF detailing the workings of my over-20-years-old dirty euro-2 class diesel engine on a technical level, and it left me rather amazed. Having some sort of fallback for the malfunction of two thirds of the few absolutely vital sensors the engine has is one thing - but this thing is prepared to keep trucking even if its dual-redundant throttle-by-wire sensors completely fail! It just blindly raises the idle and lets me limp slowly to a service the best I can! And that's an engine that doesn't even know OBD-II exists!

        That is the sort of attention to detail (and I see signs of more of the same all over the car) that commands my respect and loyalty - I'm fully aware it might be long misplaced, and they may or may not be making a lot crappier stuff these days; but I know what they're capable of when they're really trying, and that's a lot more than I know about their competition - so I'll let them sort this mess out the best they can, and if this car ever needs replacing I know what I'll buy again.

        1. I am not spartacus

          "That is the sort of attention to detail (and I see signs of more of the same all over the car) that commands my respect and loyalty....

          And it does that in the face of the evidence that VW's popular reputation for reliability is significantly overblown? That is, in spite of all the technical gallimaufry that VW does to make a reliable car, really, they don't.

          " ...but I'm absolutely convinced all major players either do something similar or do some entirely different but equally unsavory other stuff.

          I would say no: I would say that all manufacturers get close to the edge when approaching this kind of test and all do things that most of the general public would consider slightly beyond the pale when it comes to fuel economy numbers, but the VW thing is of quite a different order.

          Going over limits by 15 - 40x really is quite a thing, and then, on being caught, trying to get away with the 'You've measured it wrong' defence is a bit staggering, and then, when it was very apparent that they were bang to rights not preparing a fix, in the twelve - eighteen months that they had, is incomprehensible.

    5. JDKelley

      Your car example may not be so good - for those of us who are just SO damned tired of all the feature creep in cars (being saddled with "safety systems" that do little more than allow/encourage drivers to abdicate thought, diagnostic systems that catch errors sometime /after/ I repair them, "creature features" that I neither want nor need, &c, &c,) that there's a subset of us who are simply disinclined to purchase a vehicle made w/in the last 35-40 years anyhow.

      Expanding the universe: HDTV? I don't see that well, don't have cable, and don't watch sports anyhow (that always seems to be what is marketed in hi-def.) Blu-Ray? I didn't get interested in that until I could buy a burner for data discs - again, I don't see that well. $4,000 bed? I don't sleep that well or that much - doesn't matter what on (or with what prescription.)

      How about taking all that brainpower (since I'm sure /some/ gets used writing all of those noisome adverts, yes?) and turning it toward more productive, useful ends? Bring manufacturing jobs back from China. Get fuel, food, and property prices back under control. Find out why politicians are such imbeciles. Find out why our President is /not/ willing to fight those arsewits in the Middle East, but they've managed to piss off France - fucking FRANCE! - enough to start bombing.

      Stuff like that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "How about taking all that brainpower (since I'm sure /some/ gets used writing all of those noisome adverts, yes?) and turning it toward more productive, useful ends? Bring manufacturing jobs back from China."

        Why? Even with tariffs, shipping stuff from China is cheaper, and people are voting with their wallets.

        "Get fuel, food, and property prices back under control."

        They ARE under control. Only problem is, there are many buyers that raises demand, and economics dictates increased demand raises the equilibrium price. 12 people stuck on an island with only 1 coconut basically means things get ugly no matter what you do.

        "Find out why politicians are such imbeciles."

        They're not. It's just the skill set needed to be a politician is pretty exclusive and not much useful for anything else.

        "Find out why our President is /not/ willing to fight those arsewits in the Middle East"

        Because we don't want him to fight in the Middle East. It costs a lot of money we don't have and won't have productive results. Unless you know a way to permanently eradicate cockroaches without collateral damage that just results in more roaches being created?

        Basically, the world's screwed, and you're outvoted. All you can do is hunker down, bend over, and await the inevitable.

  17. Oor Nonny-Muss
    WTF?

    Advertising based on your habits is pointless though - my washing machine died, I browsed a lot for a new one. All my adverts *after* I'd bought one were for washing machines. Don't know about you folks, but I only need the one...

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Yeah

      It's been mentioned before, but there does seem to be a flaw in Amazon's ( in particular) marketing strategy. Buy something through them and they'll try to sell it to you again, immediately.

      Well, if we wanted two of them, we'd have bought two, likely as not. And if it's a one off purchase, then it remains a one off purchase however many emails pass briefly through my inbox on the way into my junk folder.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Yeah

        It's so stupid I doubt it's a human action. I suspect that Amazon is yet another organisation that can't invent artificial intelligence and has convinced itself that artificial stupidity is an adequate substitute.

  18. Captain Underpants

    Flaws I see in the argument:

    a) the assumption that all advertising is interchangeable in terms of what it's selling,

    b) the assumption that users who use adblockers are uninfluenced by advertising,

    c) the (incidental or deliberate) failure to consider the clickbait effect.

    On the first point - nay. I don't mind, say, relevant product ads on a site like El Reg. I'm clearly interested in tech, I don't object to informative ads that tell me about products in which I may or may not have an interest. Even if I don't want to buy them right now, I can see value in knowing the state of the market. That's not true of NSFW ads, nor is it true of ads sufficiently unrelated to the topic of the site on which they appear. (And don't give me the old "contextual advertising" canard, the state of the market for that still appears to be "Hey, you bought one of these things once, do you want to buy 500 similar items now?", and if Amazon can't get that right I figure no bugger's going to any time soon).

    On the second point - I'd love to think I'm uninfluenced by advertising, but as far as I know there's a great deal of research (not to mention advertising spending) that says otherwise. I can buy the "I don't want to waste bandwidth on ads" argument, but "I'm not affected by them so why bother?" is wishful thinking. Now, "I don't want to be affected by them" is another matter entirely, which takes us to the third point:

    On the third point - clickbait or obtrusive ads. Whether it's flash ads with autoplaying audio (die in a fire, whoever popularised that idea), expanding overlay ads (ditto) or the myriad ads using barely-clothed women to try and flog anything other than actual products featuring barely-clothed women. Most of the time these can't be considered "informative" - they're a ballache and a pimple on the flesh of the internet. And in no small part the reason people want to be able to block advertising. It's understandable, since a lot of blogs rely on the same clickbait effect, but it's still a bad thing.

    Basically, if blogs and advertising networks want to understand why people so often dislike ads, all they've got to do is look at their own willingness to flog utter crap at their audience. That disdain goes both ways.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "On the second point - I'd love to think I'm uninfluenced by advertising, but as far as I know there's a great deal of research (not to mention advertising spending) that says otherwise."

      Just how much of that research goes on working out how NEGATIVE that influence is? And if there are any numbers on that don't you think they'd be buried deep where nobody, least of all the clients, can find them?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      (And don't give me the old "contextual advertising" canard, the state of the market for that still appears to be "Hey, you bought one of these things once, do you want to buy 500 similar items now?", and if Amazon can't get that right I figure no bugger's going to any time soon).

      I can easily divide items I buy into three categories: one-offs and consumables, with the third being something like "occasionally". One-offs would be durable consumer goods stuff like a fridge, washing machine, JCB or guillotine, items you might expect to last at least a decade. Consumables are equally clear: stuff you buy at least once a week because you or your cat require them in nourishment, causing unhappiness when depleted. And occasionally? Clothing, for instance, or printer paper.

      For one-offs it would be downright silly if advertisers sling "related" ads at you after a purchase. Consumables? You probably have your favourite brands, or you go for whatever is cheapest and not downright disgusting; in which case you may want to know who's offering what on special. The "occasional" segment will probably be the richest fishing grounds for targeted ads. The next step would be for the ad slingers to categorise their wares according to these categories. Shouldn't be that difficult, but apparently this is beyond the average marketeer's grasp.

  19. Quortney Fortensplibe
    Facepalm

    Sadverts

    "...people are paid to create stuff for it but that people aren't charged to look at it. You know, like, umm, El Reg..."

    I presume by that you're talking about the people who write the original press releases that El Reg along with every other tech news site re-hashes? ...or were you referring to the unpaid 'community' of commentards who populate this section and give the site its unique "value-added"?

    "...A reasonable estimate is that at any one time in a big city these days there's some one billion items on offer. And someone, somewhere, needs to be telling us what they are.."

    If only that was where it stopped. If all advertising did was tell me 'Company A has released Product B' then I'd be fine with that and, if in the market for that type of product, I could do a bit of independent [note emphasis] research and compare Product B with Products C, D, E...etc from other manufacturers.

    The problem lies in the fact that Companies A, B, C, D... etc. all feel that if they shout louder in my face and make more outlandish claims for their product than their rivals, that will sway my decision. Why the hell would I believe anything beyond the basic spec that any manufacturer says about their product? When's the last time you read some advertising copy wherein a company pointed out the flaws, as well as the selling points in their latest offering? Therefore, for ad-blocking folks like me anything beyond 'announcement of existence + list of spec + RRP' is a complete waste of time.

    "...This has all come up as Apple has allowed the [ad-blocking] technology in iOS9, and people started to offer the software that performs the trick..."

    And isn't that ironic too? Those of us in the know have been blocking ads for years. But it's only when the mighty Apple announces it will allow ad-blocking that it suddenly becomes "an issue".

    Incidentally, has anyone noticed, since ad-blocking hit the headlines, a creeping trend for sites to block access until you turn off your ad-blocker? The latest high profile one was Bild.de

    What's the thinking behind that one? I don't like ads and don't want to see them. So you're going to force me to look at them at [metaphorical] gunpoint –and you think that's going to make me more, or less likely to click on one?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Sadverts

      'But it's only when the mighty Apple announces it will allow ad-blocking that it suddenly becomes "an issue".'

      That's not surprising. What sort of device do the advertising hipsters use? Suddenly adblockers have become visible to them or at least so much more visible that they can't ignore them any longer.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Sadverts

        I don't think the worry is really to do with which platform people in advertising use.

        It was only this year that Android overtook - by a small margin - the share of mobile ad revenue generated by iOS, a year after Android overtook iOS in terms of traffic.

        That still leaves, however, iOS with a pretty big share of the market, but until version 9, no easy way for relatively non-technical users to do much about adverts, short of not browsing the web. The new release makes it much simpler for people to do that.

        Of course, clever savvy Reg readers have long been willing to tinker and block ads. But now there's a whole load of people, still representing a big chunk of the market, who will find it much easier and simpler to do so than before. That could have quite a bit impact.

        Not only that, but perhaps some of those people, having found an easy way to do it on mobile, may be more incentivised to do so on their desktop.

        It's not that this has suddenly popped onto the radar of "advertising hipsters" - it's that they know it's much easier for a big chunk of their potential market to filter the ads out with just a couple of clicks from the app store.

    2. The Travelling Dangleberries

      Re: Sadverts

      Cough, mumble, post VW emissions scandal.

      "Why the hell would I believe anything beyond even the basic spec that any manufacturer says about their product? "

      FTFY

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Sadverts

        Actually, VW and other car manufacturers' advertising is truthful. They explicitly warn you that the fuel usage figures you obtain on the road will differ from the published ones from lab tests. And I doubt whether any car manufacturer has ever specified anything about emissions in any documentation aimed at an end user.

        What VW did was utterly stupid, because it was bound to be discovered, and it's trashed their once-valuable reputation. Other makes of car are now being tested in detail. We'll soon know whether they've all been cheating, or not. I expect not.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Sadverts

          "We'll soon know whether they've all been cheating, or not. I expect not."

          My understanding is that a special "test mode" is pretty much required for the odd conditions of the test, so I expect they all have one. If the engine management actually does *anything* useful with the sensory information coming in, it is surely *certain* that test mode will behave differently from road usage. (It might actually be unsafe if it didn't.) It's just a question of how much different and when you start to call that cheating.

          In the VW case, I heard claims that they had secret compartments of chemicals in the actual hardware. That would clearly be cheating, and not limited to rogue software engineers either. However, I haven't heard those claims repeated in more recent reports, so perhaps it isn't true, in which case I'd be surprised if VW were doing anything that isn't common to the rest of the industry.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sadverts

      "So you're going to force me to look at them at [metaphorical] gunpoint –and you think that's going to make me more, or less likely to click on one?"

      Any site that does that sort of thing to me never gets visited again. There are very few sites that have unique content. Annoy your users unnecessarily and they go elsewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sadverts

        "Any site that does that sort of thing to me never gets visited again. There are very few sites that have unique content. Annoy your users unnecessarily and they go elsewhere."

        And if it IS one of those unique sites AND they put up an ad-wall? Forcing you into a "bend over or go hungry" decision? I've seen plenty of that with obscure device drivers (which means money is involved since going without means being forced to junk the device and get another at cost).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    advertising... at least some of it is informative

    no, it's lies. It's projecting what people want their shiny-shiny to be and do, in contrast with harsh reality of what it really is - and the harsh reality is "disappeared" from the ads, leaving the rosy projection. But hey, we live in the harsh reality, not the projection world of ads.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: advertising... at least some of it is informative

      So why aren't they tagged for false advertising? And if they use half-truths, why not nail them as "twice the liars"?

  21. deadcow

    It's the content providers fault.

    I have no problem with advertising on the internet. I genuinely don't. I recognise that it's an important revenue stream for content generators, and I fully agree with them supporting themselves in this manner. However - there are a load of bad apples spoiling this pie. Sites that are 99% advertising to the point of actually being nearly unnavigable. Sites that throw up a full page advert directly over the stuff that I'm trying to read. Sites with adverts that forcefully redirect me out of a page and into somewhere else (this one REALLY grinds my gears). Sites that force me to watch adverts that are longer than the actual video that I want to watch. Serve adverts by all means, but be responsible about it, don't stop people from doing what they're doing and they won't need to install ad blockers. Simples.

  22. dave 93

    Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

    If El Reg, and others, were to sell their own advertising space to their own clients, and then 'hand-craft' the advertisements into their pages, in a remarkably similar way to traditional publishers, then the ads would be checked for quality by your editors, and ad blocking software wouldn't work, because you would be serving up your own ads.

    If you opt for a 'something for nothing' model where space on your pages is rented out to the highest bidder, all managed by a third party, serving up random stuff, why are you surprised that users will opt out?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

      Not being anything more than freelance, I can't comment on how exactly any particular site organises it, but even in print, ads were never checked for quality by editors, and that was in the good old days of the 90s when we had decent sized editorial teams, and only had to produce one thumping great magazine a month.

      Publishing now typically has much smaller teams of people, producing far more content because it's not enough to have a batch of material once a month. There must be things going live all day, every day to ensure the traffic never stops.

      (Whether or not that's a good thing is, at least in part, a separate discussion).

      But the downsizing of editorial teams means that the idea that a site could produce the amount of content people want, and vet every advert, without needing even more staff, is quite fanciful in my view - certainly if you want to pay the people who write enough to actually live on.

      Many sites do have their own ad team, as well as using ad networks - they're the people who will do things like the 'site takeovers' for big clients from time to time. But to get all that low hanging fruit, it almost certainly is more efficient, given staffing levels, to contract this out.

      Where the problem lies, really, is in the ad networks and the way in which, thanks to brokers, once you put a box on your site from a particular network, you have no real say in what might appear there, save for some category tweaks and the ability to block something after the fact, if it causes you a lot of aggro.

      Ideally, instead of these largely automated networks of ads, we'd have real people curating them, but that would probably require cooperation between various publishers to create their own 'trust ad' network with much stricter rules for what could be accepted.

      It might well be possible for a large publishing group - the Condé Nasts of this world - to do something like that, and only accept ads via their own in-house network. But I suspect the economics would be strongly against it for a smaller company with only a couple of online titles.

      (Caveat: as I say, I'm a freelance these days, and not privy to any information about the financials; I simply know that on the editorial side it's a case of fewer people producing a lot more work than in the past)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

        "even in print, ads were never checked for quality by editors"

        No, but in print when you sold a quarter page ad you sold a quarter page, not an ad that unfolded itself over the content on the rest of the page, not an ad that jumped up and down or shouted (audibly, not just metaphorically) and certainly not an ad that actually harmed the reader*. Stuff works differently on the web. Does a publisher have to get sued over malware before they realise that letting their adbrokers serve it up isn't a good idea?

        *Actually many years ago I came across an example that came close. Someone handling advertising for Microsoft decided it was a really good idea to put a blob of the glue that gets used to attach cover disks between a couple of pages along with the slogan "don't get stuck with Microsoft". Goodness knows what it cost to actually do it. Of course when using the glue to stick a disk envelope to a cover the adhesion of the glue to the substrate is usually weaker than either substrate but that doesn't apply to glue between ordinary pages. And whoever devised the slogan obviously hadn't thought about its ambiguity but the message has stayed with me all these years.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

          I'm sure lawyers will have a lot of fun over liability if someone sues for malware delivered via an ad network. And, yes, it may take something like that to make them realise they need to take more care.

          My many years' experience of publishers, however...

        2. Loud Speaker

          Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

          Does a publisher have to get sued over malware before they realise that letting their adbrokers serve it up isn't a good idea?

          Seeing that being battered over the head with a can of Spam did not stop spammers,

          I would not hold out much hope that a mere law suit would help.

          Nuke from high orbit: its the only way to be sure.

      2. earl grey Silver badge

        Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

        Ads in the 90s? You must have come in at the tail end of print advertising. Before that it was all cut and paste layout that had to be checked, and re-checked by editors to make sure the advertisers were getting the message what they wanted out to their audience. You didn't want to lose advertisers to competition (or at all), since most publications didn't make money on subscription but did make money on ads.

    2. Rimpel

      Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

      >'hand-craft' the advertisements into their pages ... and ad blocking software wouldn't work,"

      Depending on how integrated it actually was then element hiding might still work. There's quite a lot of El Reg that I don't see, such as the stupid nav bar, all images, social media buttons etc...

  23. jake Silver badge

    The cognizant user ...

    ... can choose not to see ads by not allowing advertisers to access their personal, private property.

    Why is it that marketards seem to think that they have an inherent right to use other people's property to display their bullshit? Isn't that "theft by conversion", and/or annoying graffiti? Can I paint my business name and telephone number on the inside wall of your house, or the dash of your van, without me compensating you for the trouble?

    Before anyone says it, I don't care that adverts supposedly pay for commercial TV, radio & the like ... I block 'em all just as aggressively as I do Web ads. They are all fucking useless, a waste of time, usually outright lies, and often insulting to anyone with half a dozen working brain cells.

    I *know* where to find cheese, tampons, razor blades and lightbulbs. I don't eat fast-"food". When I want a new car/bike or tow vehicle, I physically test-drive the competition. I don't lease anything (I'm not an idiot). I don't give a rat's ass what department store has bras or lawn mowers on sale ... when the Wife needs bras or a lawn mower, she purchases same. I make my own pizza, wine, bread and beer. No, I am NOT going to switch banks. I do my own plumbing. I bought a couple fan belts at the local autoparts store today ... because I needed them, not because I read their advertising (never replace one belt ... always replace all of'em ... trust me). When we need hay/straw/alfalfa/shavings for the horses, I call around to see who has the best deal at the moment ... likewise for dawg chow, no-climb fencing, etc.

    Advertising & marketing is, in the face of all evidence, fucking useless.

    Unless you're an un-educated idiot, that is ...

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: The cognizant user ...

      I *know* where to find cheese, tampons, razor blades and lightbulbs. I don't eat fast-"food".

      That's a fascinating diet, but don't you find the razor blades get stuck between your teeth?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The cognizant user ...

        No, only the filament from the lightbulbs and the string from the tampons cause me a little trouble.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The cognizant user ...

      " when the Wife needs ... a lawn mower, she purchases same"

      I see you've got her trained to mow the lawn. And here's your first upvote for an excellent post.

  24. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Another flaw

    When I actively search for something on the internet Google will, by and large, try to serve me adverts for the item. Whether or not I'm searching for a source for purchase Seldom are these ads informative. Advertisers do not seem to work to the concept that adverts provide information. Most of the ads served consist of persuasion to buy that say little about the product.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Another flaw

      I have found that DuckDuckGo works well for me for most of the time, and gives more reviews than advertisments. If Google is required !g SearchItems generally only gives two ads at the top of the page, and generally avoids tracking.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Another flaw

      Yes, well, ads don't ever sell products - they sell "the experience". That's why the point is not how the beer tastes or how much the car consumes, but the blissful smile of the ruggedly handsome bloke doing the drinking or driving (hey, I did say OR!) potentially besieged by attractive supermodels. That's why everything comes with a full-size photo of the idealized family (complete with 2.5 super-lovable children) grinning wider than the Atlantic. You're supposed to covet that "experience" - you're supposed to want to feel like that, damn the rest. If you ask what horsepower that cherry-red chainsaw has instead of gawking at the babes surrounding the Paul Bunyan holding it, the ads have already failed miserably...

  25. Wommit

    But... BUT!

    Don't you understand, this is BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: But... BUT!

      Indeed it's business. The advertising business are really good at selling their services to their clients. It's no skin off their nose if they drive us away from those clients.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And someone, somewhere, needs to be telling us what they are.

    But do they?

    As far as I'm concerned Ad Execs are up there alongised Lawyers, Estate Agents and Politicians as hate figures. IMHO, they are a waste of oxygen and thus should be starved of it forthwith.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I run a couple of small sites which include ads. They generate about enough income to cover the hosting costs and a pint of beer at Christmas. If everyone installed ad blockers and I ended up earning nothing from the sites I'd have to seriously consider taking the sites down. I'd like people to have access to the information but at the same time I don't want to subsidize that access. So I say a big thank you to all the people who view the ads on my sites because they are helping everyone who visits.

    As for the ads I run, they are the usual Google offering. I tried initially running just text ads but the earnings were terrible so I switched over to the recommend graphical ads. I would quite like to include only static images but I don't remember seeing an option for that. The problem from my point of view though is that it doesn't pay to do the right thing. People with ad blockers installed will block the ads on my sites whether I use ads that are text, static image or full on flash with loud music.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "If everyone installed ad blockers and I ended up earning nothing from the sites I'd have to seriously consider taking the sites down"

      What would you have to do if someone sued you because one of those adverts was serving up malware? Do you have enough control to be sure that can't happen?

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Angel

      I run a small web site that I want to be ad free, not tracking, and not screwing with my visitors' computers. I am very willing to pay the (small) amount of money it costs me. The work invested in that site, even if I'd ask for only 50 cents per hour, is worth several orders more.

      Icon depicts a Kraut trying to be nice.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        You are not alone; I too run a small website almost entirely to hold some very specific information; as a result I appear to be the final reference for pretty much every search on that subject. That site has no adverts and no scripts; I'm quite happy to spend a few quit a year to support that website - indeed, it's effectively a freebie that comes with my personal email.

  28. Stern Fenster

    < ads themselves aren't just means of persuasion. They're information too. >

    Really?

    JK Galbraith [from "Money: Whence it came, where it went" 1968]:

    "Only gravely retarded persons need to be told that the Imperial Tobacco Company has cigarettes for sale".

    When I need information, I look for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Only gravely retarded persons"

      That sums up the average consumer, you'll note. Yes, they DO need to be told the Imperial Tobacco Company sells cigarettes. Every single day.

  29. silent_count

    The next sorta-killer app

    I suspect there's market out there for a way of allowing people to avoid advertising by making micro-payments to outbid the advertisers.

    For example, upon visiting El Reg, this killer app would find out how much advertisers are paying for a page worth of adds on El Reg and then allow the visitor to pay a teensy bit more than that directly to El Reg to get the page without any adds.

    The site visitor is happy because they avoid adds while keeping the website in business. The site is happy because they're a little richer than they'd otherwise be. And the spurned advertiser can go burn in the hell from whence they were spawned.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The next sorta-killer app

      " And the spurned advertiser can go burn in the hell from whence they were spawned."

      No, the spurned ad-flinger can go burn in hell. The spurned advertiser gains by not having pissed off a potential customer.

  30. Indolent Wretch

    >> So, people who don't even get served ads by blocking the very possibility are those upon which the ads would have been wasted anyway.

    Your logic is based on this and it's nonsense. Just because your a person who's installed an ad blocker doesn't mean you would never have made a purchase because of an ad you found relevant/interesting. I have upon occasion installed ad-blockers, I have also on occasion bought things because of ads.

    It may be true for some but by no means all.

    And as for "won't kill the internet" I don't think anybody sane thought it would. But it will kill off chunks of it and some of those chunks are worth keeping. People who maintain a website supported by advertising that serves the tech-savvy community will probably be the first to die.

  31. Derichleau

    I find add blockers essential

    I to hate all adverts which is quite strange because as a kid I used to love them, especially near to Christmas. I guess for me adverts are no longer relevant because I'm not that materialistic anyway but also because I tend to do my own research about any products that I'm looking to buy and no amount of advertising will change that. Why on earth would I accept at face value what I'm being told in an advert when I can get other people's opinions. I often rely on the feedback on Amazon's website for example and in my experience, it tends to be fairly accurate.

    Under UK law (section 11 of the DPA), one has the legal right to write to a data controller to ask them to stop promoting their products or services to you BY ANY MEANS. According to the ICO this would include generic adverts delivered while an identifiable individual is logged in to an account. Why do you think Amazon is an EU data controller and not a UK data controller? It's so that they can plaster their adverts all over their pages and on their Kindle Fire and you can't ask them to remove it. If Amazon were a UK data controller then you wouldn't have to pay the £10 to get the adverts removed from a Kindle Fire because it's a statutory right. This is why I want to see all .co.uk websites operated by a UK-based data controller because these sites are aimed at a UK audience.

    I use an ad blocker regularly and my version of Amazon's website is very strange because I've blocked every possible advert. I read the Reg at work however and we don't have add blockers.

    To be fair, I don't mind companies making money out of advertising providing that it's their main source of income. What irks me is when companies like National Rail have advertising banners on their website; they should be providing a service but want to make money from it too! My National Rail website at home is so heavily blocked that it's just a couple of boxes in the middle of the screen so that I can check what time my train is running each day. I love the fact that I don't have to view their advertising - it actually makes me happy.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I find add blockers essential

      "This is why I want to see all .co.uk websites operated by a UK-based data controller because these sites are aimed at a UK audience."

      Aligning DNS with legal boundaries would solve nearly every problem that politicians have with the internet. I'm amazed that they don't push it more aggressively. (I'm less amazed that geeks don't push the idea, since it is not particularly easy, but it is clearly possible within the inflated address space of IPv6 and the IPv4 internet could then be left to wither on the vine.)

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: I find add blockers essential

      "I to hate all adverts which is quite strange because as a kid I used to love them, especially near to Christmas. I guess for me adverts are no longer relevant because I'm not that materialistic anyway but also because I tend to do my own research about any products that I'm looking to buy and no amount of advertising will change that. "

      ...or, just maybe possibly, now you're paying for stuff with your own money. </cynical> No offense whatsoever intended. I know no ad can talk louder than money can, as it says "good bye" walking out of your wallet...

  32. Palpy

    No, Tim: Ads are not designed to carry information.

    They are designed to persuade. Advertisements are replete with weasel-words, meaningless terms, and nonsense. What do the words "better than ever!" or "Outshines the competition!" actually mean, when applied to soap or a refrigerator?

    When buying a car, the one opinion you should disregard is that of the used-car salesman. When buying anything, the last thing you want to pay attention to is an advertisement. Advertisements are not meant to convey honest information, and they are not meant to provide meaningful decision-making criteria. They are meant to persuade you to buy something, regardless of the actual quality or value of the product.

    Never trust a liar; never pay attention to an advertisement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No, Tim: Ads are not designed to carry information.

      So what happens when you MUST buy something (like a car when your last one just gave up the ghost) AND they're your only pertinent source of information (because where you are, the Internet or anything else handy is unavailable)?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd have no problem with ads which appeared in the same way the spotlight and most read article links appear... down the side and static. Make it move, or worse, make a noise, and it can take a long, long walk off a very short pier. This is without dipping into the morass which is new window popping, tracking, malware which characterizes most ads.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Working from home a few years ago I felt sorry for the market researcher who needed more of my age group for her survey about the effectiveness of some TV adverts.

    She found that I remembered several of her specific' adverts for their annoying qualities and/or annoying celebrities. I could remember the type of product too - but hadn't a clue about the brand. One particular one used a retired policeman - whose name I could not recall - pushing something to do with cars - tyres? insurance? AA? She indicated that my reaction to those particular adverts was not unusual.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Like the classic TV ads where Leonard Rossiter tipped a vermouth down Joan Collins's cleavage. Surveys showed that most people remembered it as an ad for Martini, the best-known vermouth. It was actually for Cinzano, Martini's main rival, but it was the humour+vermouth that stuck, not the brand name. Negative advertising?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Web/mobile/social advertisers are bottom feeders selling crap to morons. No doubt it works for some... but it's becoming useless for anyone genuinely trying to sell a good product.

    I never buy based on ads of any kind. If a product is inferior or overpriced due to excessive marketing costs, I'll buy a competing product, do without, or DIY it. Hear that, marketing execs!

  36. src

    Advertisers

    Advertising companies are all scum. Lies, deception, psychological manipulation, guilt trips, brainwashing, whatever-it-takes are all acceptable as long as people are conned into buying the shitty products. Of course the people conned into buying the shitty products are the ones really paying for the adverts in the first place.

    Don't feel any guilt for blocking this shit. Don't lose any sleep if advertisement funded services go out of business. The world is not a worse place for this.

  37. DaveDaveDave

    The problem with adblockers...

    ...isn't that users aren't paying for sites, but that they're not showing advertisers what decent ads look like. If we refuse to see ads because we weren't ever seeing any that are relevant to us, then all we've done is give the advertisers even more incentive to put that kind of ad up to target the remainder of the population.

  38. Gene Cash Silver badge

    How about decent product information that's easily available???

    For example, I recently wanted a large Android tablet, that was cell-capable and NOT LOCKED, so I could use it as a large-format GPS among other tasks.

    This was like trying to hunt a unicorn. Apparently detailing that a tablet can take a sim is like admitting the president does heroin or something, that shit's deeply buried. Then discovering who sells said tablet and trying to figure out vendors where it might be unlocked is like trying to get the NSA to come clean on Snowden.

    It didn't even have to be a full tablet, a phablet would do. Samsung and co were out, because I didn't want Android that'd been pissed in and stirred with a stick.

    Eventually, I went to apple.com where the different iPads are displayed on one goddamn page, with the ability to compare them.

    I've never owned an Apple product.

    I bought an iPad and I've been deeply disappointed. It was a waste of money, but in the end, Apple has my money and they're happy, at least.

    Ads are a necessary evil, even though I block most of them.

  39. Old Used Programmer

    Advertising is another example of the "tragedy of the commons". Each person that makes an ad is trying to make his ad stand out among the crowd of other ads. As a result, through both sheer quantity of ads and the effort to force the users attention to a particular ad (often by blocking the view of the actual content) the overall effect is to driver users away from being willing to look at *any* ads, even those they might otherwise be interested in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I always liked the apocryphal story of the two high street shops which were opposite each other.

      One put up a big sign advertising the bargain price of their bacon. The other shop put up a big sign undercutting it. The first shop then reduced their price further - as did the other.

      Finally in desperation the first shopkeeper went into the second shop. He wanted to know where they were sourcing their bacon as he was now selling his below cost. In reply the second shopkeeper said "We don't sell bacon".

      I get the impression that some internet sellers use those two models.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And they're pretty much forced into it because, as I've noted, the unobtrusive banner ads aren't doing the job anymore; people get jaded, so you need a better way to get their attention. They don't care if you hate them; only that you notice them, and they'll do anything to get your attention: even hide exclusive content behind ad-click-walls. After all, are you willing to go without the content you can't find anywhere else and, to paraphrase a song, walk on the sun?

        I mean, they don't care if you walk away because you hate them. They figure someday you'll walk back for lack of alternatives (as everyone else starts doing the same thing). About the only way online ad men will stop if people take the nuke option and get off the Internet altogether... And even after that, there's still the junk mail and spam callers, both coming from sources the law soon finds impossible to trace (any addresses and numbers they trace will likely return empty).

  40. Dan Paul

    Who is going to be the brave soul who...

    fires their entire marketing department and spends their advertising budget on a big party for customers? Honestly, that might be more productive than some ad campaign that no one pays any attention to. I'm interested to find out the results.

    Notice I did not say sales department, only marketing. Somebody has to take responsibility for the party invites. The sales department should at least know who the customers are as the marketing department doesn't have a freaking clue.

    1. captain veg

      Re: Who is going to be the brave soul who...

      There is a difference between marketing and advertising, but leaving that aside (and the big party), it does happen. The clothes retailer Zara, for example, does not advertise. Heard of it?

      -A.

  41. russell 6

    Newspaper ads

    If and when I buy a printed newspaper or magazine I do take the time to look at certain ads which catch my eye. Printed media is a totally different experience to the online experience and I honestly can't remember the last time I looked at an online ad, the online ad experience is annoying and intrusive. If I'm interested in buying a product or service I do my own search using either Ixquick or DuckDuckGO in a private browser session.

  42. earl grey Silver badge
    Flame

    So, is there an adblock for win10?

    Since it appears to be one big advertising platform designed to run on multiple device types and they don't want to give users the ability to opt out....

    You want this APP? - no thanks

    How about THIS app? - erm, no thanks

    Then how about this app? - maybe...

    Well, we see you've been looking at nekkid (wo)men. Would you like more of them?

    Please DIAF.

  43. sYncRo

    They are inextricably linked with each other. Its all about a better relationship for the end user

  44. JLV Silver badge

    Ummm

    My understanding is that a lot of ads are less about immediate sales than brand/product awareness. So, you don't go off buying Colgate toothpaste because you saw an ad. But, when you are in the store, if you don't know your toothpastes well, you may buy Colgate rather than a brand you've never heard of. Not because you think the luscious blonde in the ad is going to sit on your lap either. She's there so you pay attention. But perhaps a signalling mechansim as well "they can pay for ads so they must be good at what they sell".

    If that no-direct-sales-anyway is the case it's not obvious that turning on an ad blocker means you wouldn't have bought toothpaste and are therefore automatically not a loss as an advertising target. Face it, many of us, me amongst them, are sure we never are swayed by ads. Any chance we are flattering ourselves, like the 80% of drivers who think they are above average in driving skill? Are all ad men really wasting money?

    The only real metric of this article's hypothesis is if click through conversion rates go up proportionally to the loss of eyeballs if ad blocking goes mainstream. I wouldn't want to bet on it.

    P.S. FWIW, ad blocking on iOS 9 is only wwith Safari, even though Chrome uses webkit here. And only from fairly recent iPads (air 1+). My iPad 4+, 3 yrs old, doesn't make cut off. Rather transparent way to flog new kit and their crappy browser because I doubt there's much technical/hw reason for this.

    Not bitter, but cynical, yes.

  45. Medixstiff

    Simply put...

    Most ads these days are just annoying SPAM, if we got rid of SPAM, annoying ads, dodgy Java scripts and Flash, the internet would be a much more enjoyable and safer place security wise.

    However like the movie studios and distributors, most advertisers are still using antiquated thinking instead, of thinking outside the box a little and actually putting some effort into ads, that actually give good factual information about the product or service they are trying to sell and don't do stupid annoying things like pop up over the entire screen or redirect you automatically to another site, because that's a sure fire way to make more people decide to install an ad blocker.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Simply put...

      "However like the movie studios and distributors, most advertisers are still using antiquated thinking instead, of thinking outside the box a little and actually putting some effort into ads, that actually give good factual information about the product or service they are trying to sell and don't do stupid annoying things like pop up over the entire screen or redirect you automatically to another site, because that's a sure fire way to make more people decide to install an ad blocker."

      They probably have experience on their side. Thinking outside the box doesn't fit well against the human psyche. We only have a limited scope of what gets our attention. And ad campaigns are very much like election campaigns. Historically, what works appeals to the gut, not the brain.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Simply put...

      "because that's a sure fire way to make more people decide to install an ad blocker."

      And more ad-blockers are a sure-fire way for sellers to start raising ad-blocker-blockers, and they have the advantage from the technical point of view because they can detect when the ad is pulled and have ways to tell if it's being pulled by a human or a robot (by using the side channels that are requied to make the ad appear, which they'll force you to open as part of the ad-blocker-blocker). Because of the cutthroat nature of Internet sales, soon ALL of them will be doing that, so your only way to avoid them is to abandon the Internet.

  46. MrShade

    So let me get this straight...

    Advertisers are telling their customers that adblock is killing their sales? Isn't that a bit like oil companies telling the government that burning fossil fuels isn't causing global climate change?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A key reason why I started using Google search was that it was a simple page and returned text results. Not much has changed.

    They might be onto something.

  48. Luiz Abdala

    Newsflash!

    If I am looking for something that is known to be advertised, I turn the adblockers off and go into "Amaze me in the next 30 seconds" mode.

  49. Number6

    Security

    Given that malware can be distributed by dodgy ad server scripts, the reputable side of things could clean up their act and come up with a solution that did not use scripts. It can't be that hard to do it all server side, it would just put all the processor load on the ad server but would mean that NoScript and its ilk wouldn't filter things out. At the moment I have full-on ad and script blocking by default because otherwise my system has a security hole. Make your product safe and I might consider using it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Security

      About the only you could do that in a way that can't be blocked is to use an inline proxy and use names that are indistinguishable from the articles themselves, like with newspapers (they're on the same paper). But as I've said before, people quickly become jaded to ads over time. This phenomenon was noted all the way back in World War II, so the ad people know this. This means ads need to constantly evolve so as to keep getting people's attention. IOW, being obnoxious is a design feature, not a flaw, because it creates a "take it or leave it" scenario, and they figure more people will "take it" and keep reading than "leave it" and abandon the whole medium like people might do with TV and radio (I'm an example of the latter) if they're irked enough.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019