Ahead of the launch of iOS 9 later this month the debate about ad-blockers has started once again. Following the release iOS users will, for the first time, be able to install ad-blockers into Safari. Apple is not providing the blocking software directly, instead they're allowing developers to build "content filters" which sit in Safari as extensions. In theory these could be used for any purpose, but the primary use case if pretty clear.
This has caused another round of hell and damnation from content providers who publish free, ad supported content on the web. This is of course understandable, ad revenue is their livelihood and ad blockers do real damage to that. Sadly however, they've brought this situation on themselves by hosting increasingly obnoxious and annoying adverts. I firmly believe that consumers don't object adverts per-se, if they did then Google would have never become the company it is, what they mind is adverts that are distracting, annoying or just get in the goddamn way.
Exhibit A, this is the front page of The Guardian today, in full screen, before you do any scrolling,
Just stop for a second and look at that. I'm on the front page of a international newspaper and I have to scroll down to read the main headline. That's just ridiculous. I haven't done the maths but I reckon over 50% of the content on that screen grab is a Samsung ad.
And of course The Guardian are by no means the worst example, many mobile sites now pop up ads that cover the entire screen on your phone, and of course there is my personal pet hate, sites taking one page of content and splitting it into a 12 page slide deck. There is a special circle of hell reserved for these people, I swear it.
The performance hit from ads is also astonishing, with some sites like iMore.com loading up to 7x faster on mobile Safari with ad ad blocker installed. It is insane for any consumer not to use that technology.
At the moment the web doesn't have a better business model than ad-supported content, but that doesn't mean that the future has to be built of a thousand paywalls. Ads can be interesting, they can be relevant, they can be respectful of my privacy and they can, done well, nhance my experience.
In the end the ad-publushers are always going to produce the most jarring, attention grabbing ads they can and in turn, consumers are going to block them. It's up to the publishers to protect their brand and their audience by making a stand for high quality, interesting and useful ads. Only then will we turn the blockers off.