Another Politician Opens His Mouth …

3 Mar

… 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.


9 Responses to “Another Politician Opens His Mouth …”

  1. The Rhino March 3, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

    Wait, you have a Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport?

    I think we’ve identified the problem.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 3, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

    Obviously the real problem with those ad-blockers is that the government isn’t getting a “piece of the action”. [Sarcasm]

    • shrekgrinch March 3, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

      You just nailed it in one.

      Governments are de fact protection rackets and abhor competition.

  3. jklangford March 4, 2016 at 12:34 am #

    While I was reading this I could not help but think about how ridiculous the advertising on TV has become. I very rarely watch regular TV anymore, however, if I do I use my DVR. That way I can ff through the commercials that insult my intelligence. They are just atrocious now a days!


    Sent from my iPad


  4. Jerry March 4, 2016 at 4:06 am #

    As far as windows 10, you can get around it, use a mac With OS X.

  5. Ryan Bjorklund March 4, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

    Sigh, I miss Telnet. The internet went down hill when Graphics were added to websites.

  6. RandyBeck March 4, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

    Ads are hell on an underpowered machine. If you’re still running Vista, or earlier, and it’s a 32-bit PC, sites using flash can lock you up every regularly.

    Turning off javascript can save a lot of irritation, but some sites and/or features just aren’t going to work. Try regular sites like Drudge and Instapundit on an old PC, turn off javascript and flash, and watch the difference.

    Website administrators should test for this sort of thing but they don’t. Every one on their staff probably gets a top-of-the-line Mac, and never gets no clue what the average user has to go through — to say nothing of those at the bottom.

  7. RandyBeck March 4, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

    “and never gets no clue”

    Excuse the lousy editing. I sound like an old Bowery Boys movie.

  8. Brinkley Harrell March 7, 2016 at 4:17 am #

    You should check out the site “Blocking Unwanted Connections with a Hosts File” located at MVPS HOSTS now includes entries for most major parasites, hijackers and unwanted Adware/Spyware programs!

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