Security Technology

Ad Blocker 101: The Basics And What You Should Know About It

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(Data from https://blog.pagefair.com/2015/ad-blocking-report/. Data retrieved January 21, 2016)

A lot of talks and discussions circulate online regarding ad blockers and its blocking activities. There are two sides of the camp contingent on how ad blockers are viewed. On the one hand are those that believe that ad blockers are more akin to knights in shining armour, protecting online searchers from nasty and oftentimes, pesky ads and on the other hand; especially those that live and breathe online advertising, ad blockers are a growing menace.

Both camps have valid points— to some extent. What’s certain, however, is the fact that ad blocker users are growing and will continue to grow in numbers over time.

In the know: Ad Blocking

Ad blockers, in technical terms, are apps more like plugins or extensions for browsers that acts by removing, altering or selectively downloading contents from a webpage. Ad blocking apps functions to stop online ads, embedded media, and widgets from social sites or beacons inserted to webpages to track users thus blocking unwanted things from loading when you do an online search.

Some ad blocking apps substitutes advertising content found on webpages with something other than those ads while others don’t thus the broken links on webpage where ads should’ve been.

The specific contents that ad blockers block typically varies depending on what type of ad blocking app is installed or used on the devices the searcher uses. Some ad blocking app removes all advertising on a visited page and others explicitly block items that could compromise a searcher’s privacy like the tracking beacons that online marketers use to know more about the behaviour of online searchers when they visit a page like the duration a person stays at a particular webpage or what pages they visit.

Exactly how do ad blockers function?

Ad blockers work at countless levels and is customarily being set-up as a browser extension that once installed, sieves content on a webpage in two primary ways: 1) by verifying on a blacklist that has been crowdsourced the domain names or addresses of items being loaded and stopping those items from loading, and 2) then verifying the loaded page and taking-out any item that fits the ad blocking apps’ rules, like embedded audio and video, images and the like that it would deem as an ad.

The domain blacklist method is exceedingly efficient due to the fact that most sites makes use of third-party JavaScript tags in their codes which are identical domain name for all of their clients. Ad blockers then strips ad tags from the page content being downloaded even before the page loads and not allowing the rendering of the ad which collaterally affects ad networks because they won’t know that an impression or a site visit even happened.

Why use an ad blocker app?

Basically, the reason why someone would use ad blocker apps can be grouped into four main categories: need for privacy, site security, site performance and better site experience.

1. Need for privacy.

As technology advance, so do the methods of unscrupulous individuals out to get information from unsuspecting online users. Some, like Google Analytics, get information about online searchers’ behaviour and the pages being visited, which, for some, subterfuges their right to privacy. With an ad blocking app, these are stopped and allows private browsing.

2. Site Security.

In online advertising, display banners gets biggest piece of the online ads pie. With the aim of enticing site visitors, these have become a muddle of technologies; online ads with rich media packed with embedded video, audio and oftentimes, animation to get the attention of online searchers. To make this happen, ad networks lets third-party Flash and JavaScript files run in ad slots which also allows malwares and viruses to run, infecting users’ devices and potentially exposing site visitors to information theft.

3. Site Performance and speed.

A normal webpage usually contains dozens of embedded ads and ad tags which are designed not having any regard with the resultant speed and loading performance of websites. Websites jam-packed with hundreds of ads bites a lot of bytes and megabytes. Stopping ads from loading significantly speeds up the website and for data plan users, it’s a boon speeding up page loading time and cutting the bill.

4. Optimal search and user experience.

Have you been irked by an ad like a bunny-in-a-hole; constantly popping on a site you’ve visited or have you experienced being suddenly jarred because of a video suddenly playing? Pretty intrusive, right? Ads like these are really bothersome and, to users viewing a content that they really want to read, disruptive. Arguably, this nasty habit of online ads leads to negative effects hence the biggest reason for using ad blockers.

In Hindsight

Ads are an essential part of the digital environment, allowing and driving the exponential growth in the diversity of contents and destinations available in the World Wide Web. Ads are the life blood that powers well-entrenched sites like the titanic search engine Google, social media’s king, Facebook, and countless others that exist in the ethereal world.

Online advertising today is in for a rough ride but remains to be alive and will continue to do so in the immediate future. Ad blocking is like a two-edge sword; both bane and boon for the online advertising industry, but one thing is for sure — it’s time to change and adapt to the growing demand of none-intrusive kind of advertising which means a better future for the entire web.

But it’s not all bad news; the thing is the challenges being posed by ad blocking apps are surmountable. Online advertising is a great model, but what is fundamentally erroneous is not advertising per se, but rather how it’s being done that’s triggering this present backlash.

As the digital advertising industry advances, more and more online advertisers should start developing more streamlined and non-intrusive ads that are content-focused; delivering high-quality and relevant content rather than flagrant bunny-in-a-hole messages. Considerations and provisions for privacy and security is a must and so does the need to make users feel comfortable and secure with how their information is used. Advertisers needs to innovate and be creative in crafting ads by making it more entertaining and inspiring.

eQTM admin

Quality | Timely | Marketing

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