On Content Blockers

Understatement of the year: Ad blocking in the news these days.

The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 9, includes something Apple calls Content Blockers. It provides a way for developers to make apps that block ads, trackers and other unwanted content in the mobile version of Safari, the web-browser in iOS.

On the release of iOS 9, a number of ad-blocker apps hit the App Store and very quickly sides were taken.

Publishers who rely on ads to make money were very much opposed to the idea of users being able to block the ads they rely on to monetize their content.

App developers defended their apps, pointing to the demand from users as proof that users wanted out of the overbearing ads and privacy-invading trackers.

Users of ad-blockers told publishers to get a different model and get rid of the pop-ups and other annoyances that add massive weight to pages, and make it difficult and sometimes impossible to read content on mobile devices.

Content creators and publishers cried foul and suggested that ad-blockers would spell the end of the web and would mean the content would simply go away.

My take

I use Ghostery (ad and tracker blocker) on my browser. I use DuckDuckGo for search. I hate obtrusive web ads and enjoy reading content online. I consume podcasts, skip the ads and don’t feel regret.

My employer advertises online with display ads, and on podcasts. I block and skip through those very ads.

It’s a harsh view, but if the publishers can’t figure out a way to monetize their content without the use of numerous trackers, and obtrusive ads, then we have a problem.

Content creators deserve to be paid, and until now most of that money has come from ad revenue. Without the ads, there’s no revenue. Without the revenue, good content won’t exist because there’s less incentive to create it.

These content creators and publishers will cry foul and jump up and down and scream and yell. And for good reason – their livelihood is at stake.

And then they’ll pull out their phone and request an Uber, much to the chagrin of the cab driver who used to get paid to drive them home.