back to article Ad men hope blocking has stalled as sites guilt users into switching off

The adoption of prophylactics to protect users against advertising failed to rise in 2016, according to pollsters YouGov. The hopeful conclusion that the Internet Advertising Bureau trade group draws from this is that ad-blocking has hit a plateau as users mull the moral implications of blitzing ads from their PCs and phones …

  1. Andy Non
    FAIL

    You can remove my adblocker

    from my dead cold hands; because I'm sure as hell not willingly turning it off.

    1. Oh Homer
      Pirate

      It's not so much the ads

      What annoys me most is not really the ads themselves, but the mentality that we are somehow morally obligated to look at them in exchange for the dubious privilege of visiting the site, and that failing to do so amounts to "theft".

      Well sorry, but no. If you want to charge for access then use a paywall. If not then your "business" model is purely opportunistic, with no more obligation than a window shopper has to come into your shop and buy something. Unfortunately you'd then have to be selling something good enough for people to want to actually pay for it, which for 99% of the "content" out there simply isn't the case.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: It's not so much the ads

        "Unfortunately you'd then have to be selling something good enough for people to want to actually pay for it, which for 99% of the "content" out there simply isn't the case."

        Exactly. Ad proponents seem to think that the fact someone is willing to visit a site is proof that they must therefore be willing to pay in order to do so. But most people consider most sites worth no more than the time it takes to read them. For the most part, adverts are simply an attempt to create income from something that no-one is actually willing to pay for. That doesn't mean we're obligated to watch the adverts; from the perspective of a consumer such a site is still worth nothing and costs nothing. If you try to force us to pay, whether through an actual paywall or any other means, we will simply stop visiting those sites. You can take a horse to the trough, but you can't force it to pay for the privilege of having water jammed down its throat.

        1. Loud Speaker

          Re: It's not so much the ads

          Thanks to recent enhancements, unless you go the the effort of setting "Verbatim" for each and every search, most visits are to sites that are totally irrelevant to your search terms anyway. There is no way I want to even see the content, never mind the ads.

          Google needs a setting that says: "I'm not bloody shopping, and I have no intention of buying anything" that prevents sites that suggest removing an adblock from even being listed. Or any site with any kind of advertising, or attempting to sell anything.

          If I am searching for academic information, then the answer is most definitely not "Barnes and Noble" or "Alamo Car Rentals".

          Someone, somewhere, needs to get a grip.

          OR

          We need an alternative Internet, like the original one, where people attempting to get money for anything get disconnected immediately. Like how on Fidonet you would be blocked for "Annoying Behaviour" - that gets rid off trolls PDQ.

          Maybe we need Fidonet back again? (maybe not by using 1200 baud modems).

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: It's not so much the ads

            If I am searching for academic information, then the answer is most definitely not "Barnes and Noble" or "Alamo Car Rentals"

            You can add estate agents to that list. Every last one who never met their father.

          2. Oh Homer

            Re: 'a setting that says: "I'm not bloody shopping"'

            You assume that marketeers care what you want. They don't. In fact they literally consider it their job to tell you what to want, then manipulate you into paying for it. That's sort of the whole point of marketing. The idea that you, the mark "consumer" should get the freedom to decide not to play this little game, is something that marketeers find both amusing and horrifying.

            This might be a good time to remind everyone that Google's sole business is advertising. Nearly all of Mozilla's funding also comes from advertising. Microsoft is also only after your money, and is increasingly depending on Google's data-harvesting model for revenue (just look at Win10, the most pervasive, intrusive spyware ever created). That's nearly 100% of the browser market. Expecting these companies, or frankly any commercial entity, to genuinely care about your privacy, is more than a little naive.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Black Helicopters

              Re: 'a setting that says: "I'm not bloody shopping"'

              That's sort of the whole point of marketing. The idea that you, the mark "consumer" should ...

              Wow. Never actually noticed that before! Thanks for helping me to see it!

              [Er, better go.. Could be some racketmarkteteers hovering nearby, by the sounds of it at least a couple of military-grade corporate helicopters...]

          3. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: It's not so much the ads

            Maybe we need Fidonet back again? (maybe not by using 1200 baud modems).

            Good ol' Fight'o'net.. Some have a romanticised view of how great it was, some have much the opposite. I do remember some pretty nasty flame wars on there. I have some enduring friendships from my time there.

            There's still remnants of it around, and still BBS's you can visit over Telnet I believe. I keep meaning to resurrect mine. Was great, massive amounts of space.. a 50Mb (yes, M not G) system HDD (OS and BBS), another 100-odd Mb for the message areas, 6x320Mb SCSI hdd's for the downloadable files, was even rich enough to belong to several of the file networks. Nowadays that storage space is a mere blip in a MicroSD card!

            El Reg we need a misty-eyed reminiscence icon! Have a cold one instead...

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: It's not so much the ads

          All this makes me wonder if the next ad model will be like a captcha. Watch these X-number of ads, answer some questions about the ads and you can enter the site.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: You can remove my adblocker

      I have no problem with adverts per-se. But until the ad-slingers guarantee me, that they will not serve me malware - and that if they do, they will take responsibility for the clean-up, then I will not allow them to execute ads on my machine.

      In Firefox I use NoScript - they can serve me static ads, but no animations or scripts. Unfortunately Chrome doesn't seem to allow this level of filtering, so I am stuck with using uBlock Origin.

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: You can remove my adblocker

      TBH I don' care much about ads, but I most often don't see them anyway. Just because they are usually reliant on javascript, and I sure as hell remove _THAT_ from most of my browsing. I work on limited resource most of the time, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I don' fancy the idea of a few webpages sucking up most of my hardware capabilities for what is barely more than displaying some text. In fact if it wasn't for silly websites insisting that you must install all the latest, fashionable, untested security holes known as "browser plugins", I would do most of my browsing in w3m, links or the like.

  2. RyokuMas Silver badge
    FAIL

    As I said before...

    ... until ads are merely text or fixed images to the right or underneath the footer of any content, my adblockers stay switched on.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: As I said before...

      But how will you (or I, since I feel the same) know when that is ?

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: As I said before...

        The publisher outputs two ad streams: one for silent, static ads and no popups and the other is anything goes. Your ad blocker could be set to 'block', 'static ads only' or 'full-fat' for those who think ads are the best part of a website. The silent ad stream would be only for plain text, limited HTML, and PNG/JPG images that get a pass from a scanning program[1] *before* the ad publisher distributes them. Its up to the publisher to do that right: if they don't then switching the adblocker mode to 'block' will fix things.

        [1] to filter out malware and URLs linked to malware - obviously - as well as ensuring that no disallowed file type or content gets into the silent, static stream ad stream.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: As I said before...

          The silent ad stream would be only for plain text, limited HTML, and PNG/JPG images that get a pass from a scanning program[1] *before* the ad publisher distributes them.

          FTFY

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But how will you (or I, since I feel the same) know when that is ?

        Maybe an ElReg article will tell us? Until then, my adblocker stays on.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: As I said before...

        "But how will you (or I, since I feel the same) know when that is ?"

        Their problem. It was they who created it.

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: As I said before...

      My ad-blockers stay on until the advertisment publishers are prepared to guarantee that they've filtered out malware from their ad streams AND carry liability for the malware they miss, but I'm not holding my breath for this to happen.

      An additional nice-to-have would be an adblocker option to suppress any ads that aren't silent plain text or still images. I don't mind static ads, so would probably let those through provided they don't contain malware or URLs leading to malware: after all the content providers have to eat too, but ads that jiggle, flash or squark are never acceptable here.

      I'd even subscribe to an ad-free version of the websites I visit regularly - and already do for sites like Avbrief.

    3. John Lilburne

      Re: As I said before...

      It ain't the ads. It is tracking that comes with them.

  3. Alister Silver badge

    How many swallows do you need for a summer?

    African or European?

    1. Mark Exclamation

      Re: How many swallows do you need for a summer?

      Is that an African or European summer....?

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: How many swallows do you need for a summer?

      Yes.

  4. Gordan

    One word:

    AdNauseam

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One word:

      Strictly speaking, that's two words. Omitting a space does not change this.

    2. Chemical Bob
      Devil

      Re: One word:

      I think you mean "Ad Nausea"...

      1. RegGuy1

        Re: One word:

        Nope, ad nauseam.

        This is a use of the accusative that means motion towards. The ad and the final -m must go together.

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: One word:

          @RegGuy1, I think the @Ad Nauseau' was a little joke about what Adverts induce, rather than faulty Latin (which of course it would be, were that the intention).

  5. frank ly Silver badge

    percentages

    "Some 24 per cent of users polled said they rejected ad-blockers because ..."

    ... they didn't know how to turn them off and on again.

    "The proportion of UK adults using blockers remained at 22.1 per cent ..."

    This might mean that 22% of UK users know about them and know how to use them and that group is now saturated.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: percentages

      This might mean that 22% of UK users know about them and know how to use them and that group is now saturated.

      Yep. That is pretty much the gist of it.

      I would rather not browse a site and find its content elsewhere (way too many #retwatters nowdays).

      1. Sanctimonious Prick
        Facepalm

        Re: percentages

        Ditto.

        I select the headline/subject, right-click, then search for another site with the same or similar content.

        The reasons used to block ads are numerous; it's the advertisers that need to understand those reasons, change, and adapt.

        Simples :)

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: percentages

          and that's pointed out the whole issue: far too many websites are merely clickbait concentrators: they're not there to provide anything, they're there because advertising is a revenue stream in and of itself.

          That is: they provide such material as they do purely as a vehicle to carry adverts. The actual material is, um, immaterial to them; if printing adverts on the side of codfish produced a better return then that's what they'd do.

  6. MisterD

    Any site blocks me for using an ad blocker gets its own line in my hosts file, far better to block the whole site outright than to keep accidentally wasting bandwidth on "bait and switch".

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Any site blocks me for using an ad blocker gets its own line in my hosts file

      No need to go all hosts-file on their a$$.

      The ad-blocker-blocker is usually just a script that runs on the client side after the page has loaded. There are several filter lists you can subscribe to which disable them.

      For sites not covered by those list subs, I've usually been able to identify the guilt script and add it to my ad blocker's personal filter list. In most cases, that fixes the problem for the entire site.

      In fairness, this requires a higher tech level than the casual web surfer will have; but any Reg reader should be able to suss it out.

      1. John 104

        FTFY

        @fidodogbreath

        In fairness, this requires a higher tech level than the casual web surfer will have; but any tech savvy Reg reader should be able to suss it out.

  7. lnLog

    As others have noted. Fine, show me ads, I have no issues with that, but trackers can G.T.F.

    1. Busby

      My main reason for blocking everything as well. Don't mind reasonable ads ie static and none intrusive but the stalking that goes along with them is down right scary in my opinion. If there was an easy & fully effective way of stopping all tracking dead without blocking ads then people may not take the nuclear option.

      1. Maryland, USA

        You CAN show the ads but block the trackers

        Use the Ghostery add-on.

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: You CAN show the ads but block the trackers

          Was about to plug Ghostery. You have to block adds and also trackers and all the attendant evils, as these don't just come with ads, as any fule kno.

    2. IvyKing
      Flame

      I'm not running an adblocker, but have Firefox set up to block auto play, third party cookies and tracking ads. Funny thing is that many websites claim that I'm running an adblocker and ask me to turn it off. I don't mind ads, but do mind the intrusive crap that comes with these ads.

  8. Grade%
    Angel

    I bought your tshirt.

    Very nice it was too. "The Register" Lovely. It does mean I have no compunctions regarding the use of the topic in question. Thank you for not blocking me. :)

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: I bought your tshirt.

      Good call. Buying one as well today. In this day and age its especially important to support an independent media in what ever way possible with actual cash. One can argue the merits of various outlets but for goodness sake if you keep free riding (but sorry ads are a security risk so for me that is no go and they pay shit anyway) them all pretty soon they will all be complete garbage anyway.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: I bought your tshirt.

      Where did "Cash'n'Carrion" go?

      Used to have some nice mugs, radioisotope powered glow-in-the-dark keyring, etc.

      1. Andy Non

        Re: I bought your tshirt.

        Good question. I can't see any links to buy an El Reg T shirt or anything else. Wouldn't mind one of those glow in the dark keyrings, especially if it helps the site.

  9. Alien Doctor 1.1

    personal system

    I am running a pi array of 6 boxes between my vm tivo box and the telly training it to recognise ad breaks on a single itv channel atm. The sw I have written warns me when it thinks a commercial break is starting so I can either switch to a news channel or mute the sound on my telly.

    I am ages away from even posting the neural or claiming any success, but my ultimate aim is to create something that will switch to a second channel or mute ads once the ad break is recognised. At present , given the various volume changes, on-screen notifiers and other indicators we are succesful around 1.3 to 1.5 percent of ad breaks.

    I am hopeful of major identification improvements and, with the right hw engineers, of developing a system that will mute the tv automatically.

    Yes, probably vapourware, but it is a project I am conducting at home, in my own time with my own needs and agenda and with no plan to release unless I can get that recognition way higher.

    1. HarryBl

      Re: personal system

      Panasonic DVRs used to have a button that fast forwarded to the next change of scene. Couple of presses and the ads were left in the dust.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: personal system

        Humax PVR's have a skip forward 2 mins. This covers most Ad break.

        So I never watch anything live on ITV apart from the 6 Nations.

        Mind you there really is very little worth watching on any ITV Channel these days.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: personal system

          Mine is simple, watch BBC and subscription streaming sites

        2. BoldMan

          Re: personal system

          2 minutes? how quaint! Ad breaks nowadays seem to go on for about 10 minutes, then you get 5 minutes of programme and then another 10 minute break!

          ...and don't bother switching to another commercial channel because pretty much all of the show ads at the same time now! I never watch live commercial channels anymore if I can help it, always record and watch later, makes Agents of SHIELD much more palatable :)

          1. Roj Blake Silver badge

            Re: personal system

            And of those five minutes, the first two are a recap of what happened before the break and the last two are a teaser for what's coming after the next one.

            1. barbara.hudson

              Re: personal system

              And for the news, spending 15 minutes in one-minute chunks throughout the first 45 telling us that they're going to be bringing us the weather sometime soon ... and then taking 5 minutes to tell us something that they could have done in 30 seconds.

              Between that and padding out their "reporting" with what so-and-so said on Facebook/Twitter/whatever, I end up watching the French news instead. At least it's not 90% filler.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: personal system

                And for the news,

                If you want to see that crap extended to extremes, watch TVNZ' s news.

                If you want to retain your sanity or at least a grasp on reality, don't watch TVNZ news.

                (And if you want to know what toddlers are into, watch "Seven Sharp" on TVNZ1 at 7PM (NZ time))

    2. Number6

      Re: personal system

      Unless it's changed, the quick way to do it is to look at the average volume level, and when it suddenly increases, you've hit the ad break. I remember people would complain about the sound level during ads being way higher than during content.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: personal system

      Wouldn't it just be simpler to download an ad-free version of the episode (or entire season/series) and watch that?

      1. MJI Silver badge

        We do already

        This year I have watched a few series in HD, no adverts, no logos. A couple of examples

        Death in Paradise (funny)

        Taboo (very weird)

        Portillos various railway journeys

        Found them on my Humax hard drive where it nicely collected them from my satellite dish.

        Well I knew they were recording and I was watching a few minutes behind live.

        By careful avoidance of ITV and C5 I can also avoid onscreen logos.

  10. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Pint

    Vuture Central - pay heed

    When will El Reg create "A better, lighter and more considerate online advertising experience" for its readers?

    1. Chemical Bob

      Re: Vuture Central - pay heed

      Thursday.

      Not sure *which* Thursday, though...

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Vuture Central - pay heed

      I mostly read El Reg at work, and I don't block ads, because it's a work laptop and E.R. needs to justify its revenue with eyeballs. At home I have every blocking device I can have and still have something to read, so E.R. gets hit, but as it's mostly a work-read, I have squared this with my conscience.

      And actually, sometimes the ads on El Reg are pertinent and interesting.

  11. Ogi

    Can they detect when ad blocker blockers are disabled?

    I ask, because I noticed that some sites will block you when they detect an ad blocker, but if you block javascript as well, they have no way of knowing, and show you the data.

    I actually found this out accidentally because I routinely block ads and js on a particular site, and only when I enabled js for said site, did I find myself suddently locked out of the content with one of those full screen pop ups. Before that I didn't even know they had ad-blocker-blockers.

    Therefore, in those situations I would not show up as using an ad-blocker on their site, would I? Presumably their metrics for ad-blocker detection are based on javascript (i.e. run js code to check if certain elements have loaded, and if not, show annoying pop up that takes up page).

    So maybe they are seeing a flat-lining of ad-blocker usage because people (or ad blocker programmers) have cottoned on to how to disable their detection of ad-blockers (an ad-blocker blocker blocker?), rather than people actually disabling said ad-blockers.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Can they detect when ad blocker blockers are disabled?

      The relation between ads and Javascript is not quite that simple.

      Sometimes the ads themselves rely on JS to download and/or render them.

      Sometimes the site itself depends on JS to download and/or render its content, so if you have JS disabled you won't see anything, or at least anything you wanted to.

      And sometimes JS is sneakily used to arrange the content around the ad - such that if you have JS disabled, the ad will block the content. Or it shows you an ad, and uses JS to replace that with content after 5 seconds or so. Basically, there are lots of ways to use JS, some of them more evil than others.

      (But even at its worst, JS still beats heck out of Flash...)

  12. Dwarf Silver badge

    If I hit an anti-adblocker site, I just close the site and go elsewhere, there is plenty of content out there and as the consumer I can decide where I go to consume the content I want.

    Those sites that give the sob story - well look more closely at how you treat your customers and if you change, then I might too. However until that time, the ad-blocker stays firmly on on every machine I touch.

    Its funny how happy people are when you show them what an adblocker does. I think that the current market penetration of ad blockers is only limited by people not knowing enough about them. Perhaps we need better education of ordinary users so that they can make their own choice - a bit like the browser choices from years gone by.

    We could even do this with some adverts as only those who don't have ad blockers will see them - a win for everyone !!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Those sites that give the sob story - well look more closely at how you treat your customers and if you change, then I might too."

      Agreed. When the Grauniad gets rid of its very arbitrary moderating practices on CiF - then I will consider buying an online subscription to support them. I want a full picture from my news sources - palatable or not.

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      You're assuming that you're the customer.

      You're not.

      It's the ad men who are the customers.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "It's the ad men who are the customers."

        No. It's the advertisers who are the customers. The only thing admen sell is advertising space to advertisers.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I am asked nicely to turn off AdBlock, I often do.

    If the site then expresses its undying thanks by serving irritating ads, animated ads, Flash ads, fuckwit PC cleaner ads, offers for toolbars or "personalised" and "Behavioural" Ads for stuff I have already bought, or its loading then slows to a crawl, AdBlock goes back on and I don't go back to the site.

    Dear IAB: If your member tries to have shit strewn in my path, I will take all steps necessary to avoid treading in your member's shit next time I am near your shitty member.

    Your orgnaisation sounds like it is built on people with shitty members.

  14. chivo243 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    just because they ask?

    No way, no how. Most of them don't know who is shooting ads over their site, or if they've been compromised.

    If I get blocked, I just move on. I've kept mental notes of the websites, and don't visit them if I notice the name in the link.

  15. Christoph Silver badge

    "A key reason is publishers denying access to content to ad blockers which, in effect, has created that 'lightbulb' moment for people who realise that they cannot access free content without seeing the advertising that funds it"

    On YouTube you cannot access the content unless you block the ads.

    After you've muted the SHOUTY start-up ad and waited until you can cancel it, you then spend half the time you're trying to watch the video in chasing down and clearing the pop-over ads that block you from seeing parts of the video you're trying to watch.

    Use an ad blocker and you can instead spend the time actually watching it!

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Youtube

      Anyone got an adblock for the PS4 web browser?

      Please!

      And other sites keep accusing it of being a telephone by shoving me mobile sites.

      Most annoying when grinding for collectables.

  16. Palpy

    For a wider viewpoint:

    Ad blocker use rises 30% worldwide in the last year, reported by NY Times Dec 31 2017.

    Also noted: in the developing world ad blocking is widely used on mobile devices (think tight data limits and high-bandwidth advertising vids). "In the West, I expect the same trend to blindside us in the very near future” quoth Sean Blanchfield, chief executive of PageFair.

    And in the USA, ad blocker use continues to rise, albeit more slowly on desktops and faster on mobes.

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: For a wider viewpoint:

      > Ad blocker use rises 30% worldwide in the last year, reported by NY Times Dec 31 2017.

      Looks like Trump has some justification for complaining about fake news.

      Especially when it happened ten months into the future...

      PS to El Reg headline writer - "guilt" is not a verb.

      1. Palpy

        Re: For a wider viewpoint: Oops. No crystal ball --

        -- my mistake. Should be JAN 31 2017, of course. Type in haste, repent likewise.

  17. Len Goddard

    No guilt

    I have no compunction on using adblockers on sites which do not offer me an alternative way of avoiding the ads. I would rather pay real money (in small amounts) for content I wish to view rather than have my enjoyment of that content spoiled by ads.

    I don't know how much sites get for just displaying ads - certainly from me they never get click-thru payments - so allowing me to make a small donation for a period of ad-less viewing would probably put them ahead of the game.

  18. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    The ads are bad...

    ...but it's the malware delivered over ad networks that makes me keep my shields up at all times.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The ads are bad...

      This.

      The phenomenon of "ad networks" separates the ones whose negligence allows malware through from the ones whose reputation is damaged by infecting their (potential) customers. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that there is a perverse incentive to cut corners and the one who suffers most as a result is the end-user who didn't install an ad blocker.

      But they'll learn. Ads used to be irritating, then they were a performance hog, and now they are malware. Joe Public has long understood the first and many now understand the second (and use an ad blocker "to speed up the web"). It is really only a matter of time before they understand the third. Then, surely, the game is up.

      Or is it? The truly remarkable thing is that companies pay anyone to do it, even today. I can remember ads that I saw on the telly *40 years ago*. I honestly cannot remember a single ad I've seen on the internet. Not one. It beggars belief that it is worth spending a single penny on internet advertising, so what sort of deluded soul is deciding that "The Internet" is the place to spend their advertising budget?

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: The ads are bad...

        I can remember Internet ads. One being the Twix "two men, one factory" and the other Virgin Trains. Both memorable because they seemed to be the only ads showing. So despite being reminded every break, I didn't feel an uncontrollable urge to buy a Twix or jump on a train to Manchester. Especially when that would mean a trip to London, then Manchester. And despite the fare only being an arm + both legs, it wouldn't leave me any change to get a Twix. Not that the overexposure made me want to buy a Twix. More like find their marketing person, ram a delicious caramel and chocolate coated biscuit up each nostril and ram their head into a desk whilst shouting 'not every 30 seconds'. Ok, that would mean I'd have to buy 1 Twix..

        So perhaps the ad industry should look at the ad nauseum effect and how frequently their ads get repeated. The ad server may get money every play, but it probably doesn't give the viewer a warm fuzzy desire to buy stuff. Which is linked to the other main problem. Despite sites being infested with trackers and billions wasted on analytics, ads never seem to show me anything I want to buy. A simple cookie-ish thing where a user could actually express interest in ads they may find interesting would help make the ads more relevant, and waste advertisers less money.

        1. julian.smith
          Thumb Up

          Re: The ads are bad...

          You nailed it

          "Despite sites being infested with trackers and billions wasted on analytics, ads never seem to show me anything I want to buy."

          I buy lots of stuff on the Internet - but never see ads for anything I want to buy - perhaps my VPN / uBlock has something to answer for.

          This means I seek out things I want to buy ("pull") rather than advertisers attempting to "push" stuff I have no interest in.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The ads are bad...

          "A simple cookie-ish thing where a user could actually express interest in ads they may find interesting would help make the ads more relevant, and waste advertisers less money."

          The simplest thing of all would be to relate the ads to page content and not to the viewer. If the viewer bought a new car last week there's no way that the ad networks can know that and all the effort to sling car ads will be wasted. If he's now browsing garden make-over sites it ought to be a big clue as to what he might respond to now. And for that there's not need to track; in fact the ads could be static in-page. The only downside of that from the ad-networks PoV is that it cuts out their entire business. Isn't that a shame?

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: The ads are bad...

        I remember the jingles quite often but don't remember the product. Or I do remember the product as well but I was not induced to buy. They say that advertising works, but unless it's something that has never existed before (e.g. the roomba), do people rally go buy a Nike over Adidas because of comely models or a celebrity face? Maybe they do, and I am a saddie.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The ads are bad...

        "I honestly cannot remember a single ad I've seen on the internet."

        I do. It was that animated one of a train that was all over the El Reg site a few years ago that pissed me off so much that El Reg has been on my advertisers shit list ever since. It wasn't just the annoying animations, but the ads appeared multiple times on the same page and often obscured the article making it impossible to read.

        Likely the adverts were "best viewed in Internet Explorer 6.0" and so fucked up the coding when loading into Firefox running on FreeBSD.

        Now, as others have said, I also don't use an Ad Blocker. I just block all JS and then selectively unblock until a site works enough to be usable/readable.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The ads are bad...

      This. The threat level is just too high.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignore Forbes, and similar sites - they aren't worth reading

    It's best, as has been said, to ignore those who try to force you to watch ads.

    If you're on an iPad, you'll find that the advertisements get through, even with an ad blocker.

    One good tip is to click on the tiny cross on the top right of the google advertisements. This allows you to block each specific one with a comment like 'unsuitable' or 'blocks content' (which they all do if they're not discrete plain text).

    You find, after a while of blocking every single one you see, that the supply dries up. Not completely, but by quite a bit.

  20. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I'm paying

    Several sites I use are now using Patreon for funding (e.g. spaceflight101.com)

    I have no problem with this, and yes, I do feel guilty using ad blockers on such high quality sites as El Reg and Spaceflight 101. However, the ad malware issue and fact that the sites have little to no control over the ads is the biggest problem.

    Several of the webcomics sites that I read frequently have had major problems with pro-Trump ads showing on decidedly anti-Trump sites. The site owners have had little luck getting this stopped, and this shows the lack of control. I'm sure if you're a much bigger ad customer you get more control, but still...

    I've also recently started downloading YouTube videos since they've finally started sneaking ads past AdBlock. On the good side, this avoids the flaky HTML5 player, but on the bad side it means they get no hit for the video, and they live and die by the hit counts.

  21. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Oh the hypocricy in this...

    Internet Advertising Bureau trade group draws from this is that ad-blocking has hit a plateau as users mull the moral implications of blitzing ads from their PCs and phones.

    Moral implications they say. Yet they say nothing about their morals. Sorry, my adblocker and No-Script stays as does my growing HOSTS file which is at almost 13,000 lines. I'd rather miss something on a website than go in unarmored.

    1. Loud Speaker

      Re: Oh the hypocricy in this...

      "I think, therefore I spam" sums up their morals.

  22. Tom Kelsall
    Thumb Up

    I'll pay to see an ad-free site. If you're going to post a whiny sob-story about how you're funded by the ads, offer me an alternative way to help your funding situation. I don't want the ads, I'm NEVER going to want the ads, and I won't disable my ad blocker for anyone.

    I love my ad-free internet, I hate ads of any description. If I want a product, I will seek one out.

  23. lowwall

    When I hit those sites, I click the button to turn javascript off (with a Pale Moon add-on called JS Switch on this particular PC) and reload. Problem solved.

  24. Number6

    When they manage to serve ads as plain (non-flashy) images or text, and not rely on client-side scripts from third party sites then I might consider removing my ad blocker. None of these sites would be prepared to indemnify me against loss or damage due to malware from an ad served by their site, so I take my own precautions.

    Why can't they use server-side code to serve up the ads? Or do they want to rotate them while an otherwise-static page is displayed?

  25. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Morality?

    What about the morality of dishonest adverts, scams, malware serving, bandwidth use, fake use metrics, lack of third part audits, privacy theft/illegal tracking?

    I don't have an adblocker, despite what telegraph.co.uk thinks. I have noscript and for my own safety I only whitelist enough to get a site working.

    The Admen are like some sort of protection racket that want the ordinary public to use random drug pushers and hookers, with no protection.

    GET LOST.

    Maybe if you advertisers had honest adverts, as static images, no trackers, no javascript and only served by the domain of the web page, you might be seen more.

    As for clicks? I can't remember clicking on a visible advert EVER, except on shopping sites, when I'm actually trying to buy something. Like eBay, or Amazon etc.

  26. Daedalus Silver badge

    Down with click baitery!

    I'll turn off Ad Block when Taboola, Outbrain, and all their ilk are wiped off the face of the Earth.

  27. RegGuy1

    No, no, no, no no.

    I am one of the 22% and will remain so -- permanently.

    You won't let me see your content unless I turn off my adblocker?

    Bye...

    Next...

  28. tekHedd

    As sites shame users until they...

    finally give up, and subscribe to the Adblock Warning Removal List and Adblock Killer as well.

    I noticed that if I surf with NoScript I get "you are using AdBlock" warnings, even when I'm not. Just because I don't want to load random irrelevant crap doesn't mean I'm blocking ads specifically. But I guess "Irrelevant Crap Blocker" doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

    I used to only manually block sites that serve intrusive, annoying ads. I eventually realized that I was blocking all ads within two days of installing a new browrser on a clean system. So why bother?

  29. rreed2000

    When advertisers stop making such intrusive in-your-face ads (such as you might encounter on CNN or CBSNews), then we'll dump our ad blockers. Until then, their attempts to guilt us will fall on deaf ears.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    YouGov Polling

    So the ad men's optimism is based on a poll from the same YouGov that predicted that Remain would win the EU Referendum by more than eight points and said it was almost impossible for Leave to prevail?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Block or don't, the problem here is one giant problem

    1. Websites aren't doing enough to screen Malware infested ads, not even Google, look at Play Store filters, failing every week with fake AV etc!

    2. Websites are complicit patsies, embedding Analytics that ship user Browser+OS fingerprints off to Google / Facebook / 1000's of Ad-Brokers.

    3. Beyond Ads, 'Surveillance Capitalism' is toxic in general (see Guardian article). With no laws no stop this as Google / Facebook write them all.

  32. Lion

    Who is Freeloading ?

    I get annoyed when I read about content sites objecting to ad blockers. They say it is because they have costs to cover and the user is a freeloader if they block the ads. Well, I have costs too - I pay for my telephone line and data plan. Telemarketers feel it is their right to use my telephone and advertisers use my bandwidth, but neither ever compensates me. These peddlers are freeloading.

    I see that TV has not only increased its ad content, but it is now partnering with certain shows to include the sponsor's product in the show. I do not watch sitcoms, but today I read that Microsoft has partnered with ABC to include episodes that have their Surface Pro tablet written into to script. They are also the primary sponsor, so when the show breaks for an ad, it is for the Surface Pro (with the lead actor from the show in the ad), then back to the show continuing where they left off. It is called integrated marketing. The ultimate in freeloading.

    1. marky_boi

      Lynx on Linux

      Ads? what ads?

    2. Rattus Rattus

      Re: integrated marketing

      I feel fortunate that almost all live action shows or movies are worthless shite these days. I never have to encounter integrated marketing when watching anime and TBH that's pretty much the only thing I watch any more. The rest of my time is spent reading, learning, gaming, and doing various other activities.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: integrated marketing

        Integrated marketing could actually work. So I binge-watch Breaking Bad and then 'Amazon recommends..' a range of lab chemicals & glassware. Or just an 8' roll of heavy duty PVC and a chainsaw. Or perhaps just some t-shirts, mugs and other merchandise.

        Or gaming. So I watched a Twitch stream of some folks playing 7 Days to Die. The ads were almost exclusively trying to persuade me to go to Manchester. I'm not sure if that's because the analytic engine figured that's the closest thing to an apocalyptic wasteland filled with ravenous creatures (that's Slough) but it's in no way relevant. Nor is serving me an ad for an Xbone exclusive when I'm watching something on a PC or PS4. If the industry can't personalise by platform, then its just wasting money.

        But there is perhaps hope. Like an overlay function where we could pause a bit of product placement, click on the product and find out more, or even buy it.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: integrated marketing

          Actually I did have an advert once for an XBox exclusive on 4OD.

          Very funny as it was wasted on me.

          Surely they know what clients are running on the end user hardware when not a PC.

          If you are going to send customised adverts make sure they are relevant!

          Multiplatform or PS4 would be relevant!!!!!

  33. jason 7 Silver badge

    If they ask me to switch off my Adblocker...

    ...I simply go elsewhere. It's not like any site has totally original or must see content.

    Plenty more out there...

  34. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    how about an adblocker that...

    how about an adblocker that FAKES as if it's actually displaying ads, but doesn't.

    a user-maintained blacklist of advertising content would help as well. "MIddle-click if you don't ever want to see ads from these people again". Or similar.

    such a beast could simply render all blocked graphics as a blank (or transparent) image, but "pretend" the user sees it, as far as the advertiser is concerned.

  35. bin

    adblock on mobile?

    Is it simply that adblocking on a mobile is so tricky that more folks are just suffering in silence?

    I use Naked Browser and or Opera Mini both of which block ads but of course are not to everyone's taste.

  36. Far out man
    WTF?

    I use and will continue to use an ad blocker plus modified host file.

    What does really piss me off, is that when I do decide that content is worth paying for, I still get served adverts. Tested by turning off said ad blocker and using default host file. Cake and eat it? Only for the time it take to cancel the subscription.

  37. Pat 11

    Slow hand clap for the ad industry

    Dear Ad Industry,

    You add nothing of value to the world. You are parasites, the worst expression of capitalist values. Your strident attempts to interfere with people's decision making is unwelcome on the web and in all other media. When you look back on your life, what will you have contributed to the human endeavour? Diddly fucking squat.

  38. Haku

    Tracking = unsettling

    There's something very unsettling when you visit a website and see an advert for a specific product you were looking at on a previous, completely unrelated website.

    That and animated adverts can GTFO, especially flash ones.

  39. spacecadet66

    "A key reason is publishers denying access to content to ad blockers which, in effect, has created that 'lightbulb' moment for people who realise that they cannot access free content without seeing the advertising that funds it."

    I can, actually. I have this program called an "ad blocker."

  40. MJI Silver badge

    Why do admongers think we owe them a living?

    I need an answer please.

  41. Kiwi Silver badge
    Holmes

    Is so simple...

    There are a few sites out there that do this.

    Basically, in PHP (or other server-side language to serve dynamic pages)

    Read ad heading, text and URL from database

    in spot_for_ad_heading put the heading (can be combined with the URL if you wish)

    in spot_for_ad_text put the text (and very light image BUT NO FARKING VIDEO ADS! If it moves, shoot it, and the bugger who made it move)

    in spot_for_ad_URL put the URL.

    El Reg largely does this with the "Most Read", "Spotlight" and "Your Topics" bits of the side bar. Oh, and pretty much all of the front page as well (in fact, the front page is an excellent idea of how this could be done). Oh, and the "Whitepapers" for that matter.

    Ads like that would have to be manually blocked with Ublock, and would be unobtrusive so people would be less likely to do so.

    I've said it often before, the whole reason I first installed adblock was because of video ads - not the time they take to load or the data hit (pretty minimal for me back then, though today images at all are a consideration), but the sheer annoyance of the things especially when I'm on a technical page I am struggling to grasp.

    It wasn't the data cost. It wasn't the time cost. It wasn't the malware risk. It was the bloody annoyance of the thing.

  42. Kiwi Silver badge
    Boffin

    Another thought

    Just seeing some of the comments on the "you should pay to view" and how worthless several of the pages are.

    I fed something to my cat which I later thought may've not been good for it, so I did a quick search to see if there was something I needed to do or not.

    A lot of "blog" posts with a few tons of waffle and a "Read more" button, most probably surrounded by tons of advertising (if I didn't have no-script etc), and a number more that had very little (if any) content of value. One or two waffling on about stuff unrelated to what I was after (I suspect some keyword padding in their keyword tags - naughty, Mr Google is supposed to punish you for that!). The vast majority of these pages I skimmed quickly and closed, maybe 5-10 seconds eyes-on-page time. Those that want me to open a second page to read an article can get stuffed. It's ok for longer articles (like how sometimes El Reg splits stuff up), but 2 or 3 small paragraphs then off to another site or another page? No thanks.

    I suggest these sites that think only people who view ads should see them put all their content behind a paywall, so even Google can't see them without paying. If their content is good enough people will keep coming. If not, well, there'll be a few more free URL's out there.

    The content on many of these pages was crap. I'm glad I never paid any more than data and time to view them, and given my budget wish I did not even have to do that much. It would be like a chef taking a dump on your plate then expecting you to have paid in advance for it, and claiming it was theft when you walked out in disgust.

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