Re: (Amazon) was showing me ads for dishwashers
"blocking *ALL* ads, however innocent, just for the hell of it just makes you a sponger"
With all due respect, not necessarily. Adverts only work if the convert to sales, and the typical conversion rate is a very interesting question.
An ad that doesn't convert is a cost to the advertiser. However, in this competitive world, advertising is an assumed requirement, but it's difficult to establish how well it works. Enter the auction-based broker, that sits in the middle making money (directly or indirectly) from both sides.
Google now largely dictates web site presentation, as SEO has become a dominant concern and they make the rules if you want to rank high. We get tracked regardless of our wishes, and advertisers pay fees for placement that depend on instantaneous demand for placement, regardless of return on investment. To what extent all this actually benefits the advertiser or the citizen is a very interesting question. It's certainly made Google (currently) the third most valuable company on the planet.