Things about web-based advertising that offend me:
- Speed – page load times for images, scripts, videos mean that site performance can be degraded by 400% or more. Bad on the desktop, really poor on the smartphone/ipad.
- Privacy – to make ads “relevant” or “better experience” means extracting targeting data about you. Pervasive monitoring is simply a matter of time to build a comprehensive profile of who, what and how you think, emote and care.
- Visual Turds – this pervasive profiling includes the sale of your data between entities. The desire to show you relevant content to keep you engaged means that companies exist to show you “relevant” content. These companies get paid to promote this relevant content and only if you read it to see more ads which pay for the service.
I think this is a visual turd. How people can put this on their sites and expect to sustain an audience over time is beyond me.
- Paying for Bandwidth in Time & Money – I pay for the bandwidth consumed by these services, especially on mobile. The load times for large amounts of content and lag while my data is analysed and sold in online exchanges is substantial. Note that this sale happens while the page loads and can add seconds to the web content that you expect to see.
I also pay for bandwidth in money. Buying ever larger plans to but still reading the same 800 words articles.
- Content Distortion – the human brain is keyed to respond to certain social cues. Our brains evolved to use rapid recognition to “see food” and “notice threat” as a survival trait. SEO tricks likes “5 Reasons”, “One big thing” and “you won’t believe” work because of this.
The downside is that titles often drive the written content that follows. And the pictures which must be graphicaly intense – obvious, bloody, horrifying, sexualised or stereotypical. And over time, we become inoculated against it, driving ever more graphic depictions of violence, sex or social disorders.
I use Ghostery as my ad-blocker today – in combination with an outbound firewall for certain sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn) that track you using share buttons on blog posts.
I have used, and donated to Ad-Block Plus in the past but it no longer works as well.
Mozilla’s Privacy Badger might work OK eventually but my tests showed it to be “gentle” and failed to block much.