Getting rid of the vampire-zombies · 2015-08-07 14:46 by Ben Williams
In the recent media hubbub about ad blocking, many have forgotten the reasons that users want to block ads in the first place: because the vast majority not only provide zero value but often steal value – like your battery power, your attention, your speed or even your personal information. It’s a double downer, because ads can suck valuables from you and give you nothing in return. Kinda like a vampire-zombie.
One recent example demonstrates both, and because it relates to mobile devices it shows that ad blocking will have as solid a spot there as it already enjoys on desktop. It also shows why we need responsible ads and ad blockers in an Internet that is moving toward total user control.
A few weeks back Forensiq published a study on fraud detection. It revealed thousands of mobile applications in both of the big app stores that misled marketers by loading invisible ads that cannot be seen by users. This ended up costing the ads industry an estimated $1bn a year!
The findings suggest that fraud is spreading rapidly from online to the mobile app advertising market, which is expected to grow by up to 50 percent to almost $21bn this year in the US alone.
In addition, earlier this year a survey from YouGov revealed that 72 percent of consumers in the UK felt concerned about their private information online, including the safety of their emails, files and pictures. As users start to place a greater reliance on mobile technology for viewing, storing and sharing data it’s likely these concerns will transcend across. If so, mobile advertising fraud is clearly another example of why ad blocking is arriving just in time for the ongoing shift to mobile devices.
The answer, the A-word and the Tech River
Adblock Browser for Android (stable) and iOS are coming in a few weeks. These will provide annoying ad-free browsing straight out of the box, no questions asked, no extra download necessary. Just download and go (Android is already in beta BTW).
But what about the … A-Word?!! Well, there is the forthcoming Adblock Browser for iOS (see above). Also, I can now make it official: we are planning to develop a solution for iOS, ie the whole operating system, with the new tools Apple has promised. We’ll just have to wait and see what tools they give us to develop with.
Apple’s iOS announcement is a sign of the times. Times that are changing, and the fraud example above is just one more reason for us to give you the best solution we can in every format available.
All that said, many of pieces predicting a changed Internet with little upside miss a critical point: ad blocking is innovation, so why wouldn’t the Internet evolve with it? … and get better? Former Guardian tech editor Charles Arthur seems to get that. He recently asked, “why should web advertisers be immune from evolutionary or revolutionary change in user habits? …. Any argument that tries to put a moral dam in front of a technological river is doomed. Napster; Bittorrent; now adblocking.”
So, yeah, let’s not make the same mistakes as the past. Let’s not make banner ads 2.0 the standard for mobile. Instead, let’s make better ads that users can live with or live without (if they choose to block them). This is the way the technological river is flowing.
And we’re on the river. We are the ones who flow.
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