… And starts spewing nonsense.
I refer, of course, to John Whittingdale, the UK’s secretary for culture, media and sport, who in a recent speech called ad-blockers nothing more than a ‘protection racket.’
To be fair to Whittingdale, he has a very minor point. A number of ad-blocker companies have been allowing certain ads through the filters, in exchange for payment. This is despicable. But the fundamental importance of ad-blockers remains very real. Advertisements account for a great deal of frustration, anger and suchlike, particularly when they are so prevalent that they cause the site to crash. And yes, this does happen.
I’m not a technical expert, so I’ll keep this simple. Text-only webpages are tiny, so tiny they can be downloaded effectively instantly. The larger the files one has to download, the longer it takes to view a particular page. Images take longer to download than text files, videos take longer to download than images. If you happen to have limited bandwidth, the time taken to download the ads as well as the page you want can grow exponentially. I’ve actually noticed a number of pages that require reloading several times because the download jams. All of those pages have quite a few ads.
That doesn’t include, of course, the tendency to include malware too. These days, one doesn’t need to visit dodgy websites to pick up something nasty. I suspect I got something unpleasant from TV Tropes and a couple of American news sites – I don’t know for sure, but I don’t have time these days to just browse at random. Why should we tolerate advertisers who try to infect our computers with crap? (And let us not forget the biggest piece of malware on the web, Windows 10.)
Call me jaundiced, but I very rarely click on pop-up ads (save for the X that closes them.) I certainly don’t click on random ads thrown at me when I’m trying to read a website. Whittingdale may believe that ad-blockers are costing advertisers money, but I think their falling profits have more to do with the irritation factor than anything else. People are turning to ad-blockers because the advertisers have pushed their advantage too far and now people are pushing back.
In short, annoying one’s potential customers is not a workable marketing plan. Nor is trying to get the government to take action to keep the tide from coming in. Print media has far more problems than a mere shortage of ad revenue. It would be far better if they tried to make ads simpler, designing them so they didn’t consume bandwidth and crash website, but that would require an understanding of just how their potential customers feel about them.
I don’t think any of them are capable of that any longer.