AdBlock Plus: The Internet's Ad Gatekeeper?

Friday, May 10, 2013


After its release in 2006, a browser plug-in called AdBlock Plus gained hero status as an open-source effort to save consumers from obnoxious ads. But in 2011, AdBlock Plus began poking holes in its filter, adding a whitelist of "acceptable ads" that it lets through--some of them for a fee. Brooke talks with Till Faida, AdBlock Plus’ managing director, about his company's policy.


5ive Style -- Outta Space Canoe Race


Till Faida

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [8]

Jim from Narberth from Philadelphia

Why not just tag your own posts as ads, rendering them invisible to ad-blocked browsers? That would ensure that people turn off their ad-block for your site.

May. 30 2013 09:09 AM
JT from Traverse City

Thinking about ads and IPR. The underwriting are advertizing in every sense of the word on NPR. Please just go to a non-profit or even profit radio station. I am sick and tired of your begging, I would rather put up with alittle more ads. I used to give but when you started advertizing, I have stopped.

May. 21 2013 05:01 PM
Doug Burton from Indiana

Not sure of the truth or all the facts or how it relates but I was reading news and comments last week about sales reps adjusting their restaurant reviews depending on weather or not you buy advertising from them. This feature brought that to mind when I heard it.

May. 15 2013 09:43 PM

First, I completely understand that web publishers are in the game to make money. But since the early days of Internet advertising, where ads would be simple one line texts, the ads have gotten more "in your face", and evolved with the technology. Newer ads can pop out of the page, in full-color animation, and scream their product.

I started using Adblock Plus a few years ago in Firefox, and continue to use it in Chrome today on ALL of the devices we use. Adblock Plus gives me the choice (key word) to not view the advertisements that are all over, distracting from the website content.

On the websites I use frequently, and have seen the ads and approve of them, I turn off Adblock Plus for that site. To use Adblock Plus is a choice. The sites I turn it on or off for is by my choice. And those sites I choose to view the ads for, as I support the site, either by pay service or on good terms, I click the ads.

If you are against Adblock Plus, that is your choice. But remember that the next time you purchase a magazine or read a newspaper and toss out the circular ads or the subscription card without a second glance.

May. 14 2013 10:44 PM
BST from Boston

I use adblock:
If I understand correctly, that the channel creator on youtube only gets money from an ad, if a viewer clicked on it. I am an example of a person, who hates ads. I cannot concentrate on the content if there are ads. I have never clicked on a single ad, and I was naturally very happy to discover adblock. I have not had a TV for over 10 years because of the ads. I do not watch any youtube channel that has ads on my phone, because my phone does not have adblock on it.

I am a useful viewer to youtube channel creators:
However, when I see a channel that I like, I tell people about it (as many of you do). I email links to good videos, post them on the social media websites, ets. Thus I advertise these channels *for free and with no fees*. This increases the viewership, thus increasing the number of people who are likely to press on the ads.

Not all content creators are created equal:
How many times have you clicked on a video on youtube with an amazing title promising you great info, only to find that it's nothing and they only made up an interesting title or a front picture to get you to see the ads on their channel? I don't want to waste 30 seconds every time I stumble upon such awfulness only to click "dislike".

Paying for content:
I DO want to pay for the content that I use regularly, but I prefer donations or a paywall, and I did pay Wiki, NPR, Pandora, etc. I prefer to have the ability to free-browse things that are new for me, and if I want to become a regular, I would donate / subscribe.

Most importnat news must be free:
For the news organizations, it was the golden age of education, when people with no money to spare could read NYT. This allowed motivated but poor young people to learn about important national and international issues, while they cannot do that now (unless it's fewer than 10 articles a month). Free NYT articles also allowed poor immigrants to learn English, while catching up on the important issues in the US and the world, allowed them to adapt faster.
I understand that journalists and their families need to be fed, but I believe that the basic content in well-regarded newspapers like NYT must be free. NYT could still make money:
- free basic content, but everything else that is not necessary for basic education (fashion, style, restaurant reviews, etc) behind a paywall.
- allow for a free version with as many ads as needed, but the subscription is for an edition without ads
- make the subscription needed only for old news or only for current news (i.e. either free current news, but if you want the archives, you have to be a subscriber, or free old news, but for what happened within the last couple days needs a subscription).

People will always get their news somehow, but with *reputable* newspapers not free, people will be "educated" through media that does not stand up to high enough standards.

May. 14 2013 02:10 AM
Bruce from Chicagoland

The tones of voices from the web publishers in the sound bites come across as whiny and arrogant, with an inflated sense of entitlement. Their scolding of readers who use AdBlock is partly laughable and mostly annoying. The publishers' positions in the situation sound similar to those who wait tables as a career choice, and complain about diners who don't tip to some level that the server expected. Restaurant servers knew what they were signing on for before they memorized their first "Tonight's Specials" menu.

Entrepreneurial web publishers self-select their vocation, and do so knowing there is no guarantee of even a minimum wage. Like waiters, those web publishers who are not satisfied with their level of compensation can and should seek employment elsewhere - either at a publishing house that promises more reliable compensation (the server's equivalent of a moving to a higher-end restaurant); or, by leaving the field and finding another line of work that can guarantee steady income.

I'd be curious to know how many of the web publishers complaining about AdBlocker's impact to their revenue stream have ever gone "wardriving" for someone's wifi hotspot, or downloaded copyrighted music or video without paying for it, or ripped a friends' CD or other digitally-formatted music or video without compensating the artist, publisher or distributor. Or, for that matter, how many have even changed television channels when a commercial interrupted the program they were watching?

I'm not opposed to people making money doing something they enjoy. If you find a way to support yourself pursuing your passion, that's fantastic. But your expectations of - and certainly your demands for- compensation are not what drives the price. Scarcity of quality content sets the price. Publish extraordinary content and get behind a paywall, or publish for the love of your craft when you are not working your day job. Either way, quit harping.

May. 14 2013 12:31 AM

> "she is making, essentially, an argument against all community-based resistance to unwelcome market intrusion."

Not at all. The ad-blocker community has a trump card, and they can force websites to do as they want. There is no give-and-take. It's essentially community rule by fiat. You need a transactional model in order to maintain balance, otherwise one party ends up with far too much power to dictate what the other is allowed to do.

A transactional model is one where parties offer something: websites offer content, users offer the opportunity to market to them, both parties can walk away if the other demands too much: websites can refuse to offer content to users unwilling to accept ads/use the paywall, users can refuse to visit the website. The ad-blocker scenario means users can get the content while simultaneously refusing the websites attempt to market to their users. In other words: the users have unilaterally rewritten the transaction to be 100% in their own interest, and the website can't walk away from the transaction. It's a bit like walking into Walmart and saying "You want me to pay $10 for this? No, I'll pay $2 for it. If you say no, I'm just going to walk out the door with it and you can't stop me."

May. 12 2013 08:24 PM
Nolan from New York

Hey OTM,
While I appreciate Brooke's "devil's advocate" position in this interview, she is making, essentially, an argument against all community-based resistance to unwelcome market intrusion. This argument is popular among right-wing pundits who promote 'choice' in the market place (voting with your pocketbook) while railing against unionization, community organization, and any other attempts by individuals to band together and make decisions en masse. In general, the argument strikes me as profoundly undemocratic. If people band together to free their desktops of advertising (except for those ads 'the community' deems permissible) then, as Niero Gonzalez points out in the previous segment, it's up to advertisers and websites to decide if they want to continue catering to those users, and if so, to respond to the new shape of the marketplace.

May. 11 2013 01:29 PM

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