InternetUniversity: Ad Blockers

by , Apr 1, 2001, 12:00 AM
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About a year ago, a company called AdSubtract.com happily announced that its Internet ad- and cookie-blocking software had blocked well over 1 billion Internet ads for its users. The company said that while this number may make some advertisers and ad-servers very unhappy, it “represents an enormous benefit for AdSubtract users.”

AdSubtract works by blocking all ads and cookies, pop-up windows (interstitials), animated GIF images, background music, Java and JavaScript, background images, and “referrers” that inform web servers of where a user is coming from.

Advertisers were indeed unhappy, but didn’t think the software would have much of an impact on the industry. Not to mention that after the announcement, AdSubtract didn’t make much noise for almost a year. That all changed when just a few weeks ago, the company said that it will allow users to also block new formats that adhere to the IAB’s new larger banner ad size guidelines. Considering how much controversy is surrounding the bigger banner units, the advertising community is now showing signs of worry.

The issue is twofold. First, all ad blocking companies think advertising is encumbering Internet use and refuse to see even the smallest value in ads. Yet almost all web content is available to web surfers free of charge. The question to ad blockers is: “Who do you think pays for your favorite content to come up on your own screen day after day?” The web is ad-supported, thus it’s free to use. Please get used to that!

Secondly, the ad blocking industry is tiny and its impact altogether insignificant at this point, so should advertisers even care? Well, yes. Consider this—AdSubtract software can be installed in less than 30 seconds, and automatically configures itself to work with any browser. And, company officials say that professional and server versions of AdSubtract will be available soon.

What’s worse for advertisers, however, is that certain ad-servers still count a blocked ad as an impression. So, with the leading ad-servers currently claiming to serve over 5 billion ads/week, a few simple calculations indicate that you should definitely find out how the company serving your ads counts the impressions you pay for. It also ads another check plus mark to the debate of CPM vs. CPC models of buying online ads.

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