Ad Blockers Put On Notice by Facebook

Facebook announced that it will implement ad serving in such a way that ad blockers can’t prevent the advertisements from showing.

[ad blocking]…reduces the funding needed to support the journalism and other free services that we enjoy on the web. Facebook is one of those free services, and ads support our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected. Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show — as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past — we’re putting control in people’s hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls.

-Andrew Bosworth, VP of ads and business platform at Facebook

There are things that the ad blocking software companies do that people either want to ignore (don’t care), or just don’t know about, that are not in the best interest of a free internet.

First, “free” is a misnomer. It cost money to run Facebook, or any other website / application. The ads pay for the operation and a profit for the company. Seeing the ads is our price of admission. By blocking the ads, revenue is taken from the companies that invested in the websites we use everyday. Taken to the extreme, either the sites degrade their service or stop operating. If we want the service, we should pay for it. The ad blocking companies are trying to disrupt a model that is at the very heart of our ability to use the internet. Like them or hate them, without ads, there is no financial support for the internet.

Second, some of the less reputable ad blocking companies allow publishers / advertisers to circumvent ad blocking by paying them a fee. However you cut it, the ethics of this model are dubious at best. The motive is not a “better user experience”, it’s extorting the publisher.

There is a choice. When publishers implement advertising in such a way that the “cost” to view the content is too high, leave. It is a difficult equation for publishers, engaged users vs per page-view ad revenue. If they don’t get the balance right, content consumption dries up, as does ad revenue. Consumers can vote with their attention and publishers will listen or fade away.

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