Browser makers warned against ad-blocking

Browser makers warned against ad-blocking

Summary: The end of free Internet content will come when Web browsers start blocking online advertisements by default, a DoubleClick executive has warned. Bennie Smith, the online advertising network's privacy chief, told ZDNet Australia  the popularity of tools like Adblock -- an extension to the Mozilla Firefox browser -- which makes blocking online ads simple was tied to "a negative vibe against advertising in general".

TOPICS: Google
The end of free Internet content will come when Web browsers start blocking online advertisements by default, a DoubleClick executive has warned.

Bennie Smith, the online advertising network's privacy chief, told ZDNet Australia  the popularity of tools like Adblock -- an extension to the Mozilla Firefox browser -- which makes blocking online ads simple was tied to "a negative vibe against advertising in general".

However, only the online arena is able to easily produce and widely distribute such tools, he added.

He said if a similar tool could be produced for newspapers, it would not be accepted by consumers.

"You'd go to your local corner shop and buy the daily paper, and you'd have these large holes where the ads were.

"You'd somehow feel like your 25 cents had not gotten full value," he said.

Part of the Internet's value proposition lies in the provision of large amounts of free content. "But that content is not without cost. And that cost is my eyeballs seeing an ad on a page. Or within an e-mail, or next to my search results, or however it's going to come," Smith explained.

If any browser manufacturer considered implementing an ad-blocking feature as a default option, Smith said they should consider their own position as a marketer [of their own products] and a publisher of content.

"They would be harming their own customer relationships to create a short-term, short-sighted, limited-effectiveness tool," he said. "One that they would probably end up having to withdraw from the market."

If enough people started blocking ads, Smith warned that publishers would start charging for content.

"In an offline world, what would happen in that case is that the 25c newspaper would cost $5," he said.

Topic: Google

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  • Oh what a bleeding heart Mr Smith (if that is his real name) is.

    He's really worried about his company's bottom line.

    If he cared to look around, he would find many successful web sites that run ad-free, or offer ad-free subscription based access that allow those of us who want to live without ads, but get valuable information, all for a low cost.

    Perhaps Mr Smith would like to investigate why people are wanting to turn off ads in their browsers. Maybe the ads are too invasive. Maybe flashing graphics make it very hard to read real text elsewhere on the page. Maybe some of the ads that are delivered are not appropriate to the site being visited. Maybe the user doesn't want to have to pay extra download usage charges to download the 80 KB Flash graphic ad on the page with 2 KB of text.
  • This definitely looks like a press-release-made-into-news kinda stuff. My heart always bleeds for this kind of articles and standard of journalism.
  • I guess it's like flicking the remote when an ad comes on television.

    Online businesses can't afford to have their ads not reach their audience so banner ads might be a necessary evil if people want up to date, independant content without it being too intrusive.

    Idiots on previous posts don't see the point that content (whether you like the content or not) will dry up if ads are essentially useless. People won't pay for online content, plain and simple..
  • Bennie Smith said "You'd somehow feel like your 25 cents had not gotten full value".

    Wrong, wrong, wrong! I'd be absolutely overjoyed to never seen another advert for the rest of my life!

    I'm not interested in seeing advertising at all. I'm quite capable of finding my own information and doing my own research if I want to buy something.

    This is typical of the rubbish we often hear from people who work in advertising. They are deluded if they think anyone wants to see it - it's just that some people don't hate it as much as others. No-one wants adverts - just get used to it!
  • Technically it is difficult to block unobtrusive ads, such as Google's sponsored ads, which are much more similar to ads in newspapers than those typically blocked by browsers. If a newspaper was able to put in ads that popped up over the articles, were distastefully animated, or distracted the reader with noise, it is likely that the no one would buy the newspaper whether it cost 5 cents or 5 dollars. Ad blocking is in response to that type of advertising, not advertising similar to newspapers. Not recognizing this difference is a poor analysis of the issue.
  • I don't think banners and other not too intrusive ads are that much of a bother. The problem with many ads is that the servers they reside on are overloaded. This means that a normal (short) page with mostly text can fail to load at all since they are designed to load the ad first.
  • It's not so much that I hate being advertised to, more that I loathe and detest it with a frightening fervor; particularly invasive advertisements.

    I couldn't help but chuckle at the fact that there's a big hole in the article, because I've blocked everything from It didn't bother me to have a hole instead of some undoubtedly, annoying flashing advert, really.
  • I'm stuck in dialup hell. Must I endure 4 x 50kbyte gifs for a full 40 seconds of wait so I can see a page of text that takes 5 seconds to load?

    Is that his point?.

    Absolutely preposterous.

    Get the annoyance out of web ads and I'll watch 'em.
  • Stop creating adds that flash, scroll, gyrate, block my page, pop-up, pop-under, open 100's of windows, track my viewing habits, force me to endure watching prior to showing the content that I am interested in, and I will not block them. I do not block the text adds and sponsored links from Google because they do not infuriate me. I actually even click on them sometimes. Sometimes less is more.
  • His comment that people would feel cheated if they found blank spots in their 25c newspaper is ridiculous for two reasons.
    (1) Nobody would complain if the ads disappeared from newspapers;
    (2) Daily newspapers stopped being 25c (in the U.S.) a long time ago. Even the Washington Post went to 35c after being 25c for years.
    If they feel they want to start charging for content, that's their privelege. Whether their content is worth what they want to charge, that's another.

    These are the comments of an obnoxious advertiser who can't stomach the fact that their ads are so unpalatable that people are avoiding them. And I am also curious as to exactly how they are going to know that their ads are not being seen. Perhaps they can do comparisons of hit rates for content pages vs. hit rates for ads but that won't last long. I suspect the next step to prevent this is to query the ad servers but don't display the content; they will never know their garbage was not seen.

    This is the whining of some failed wannabe who can't figure out how to compete in the real world, and instead wants to roll the clock back to an easier time, just like the buggy whip makers and blacksmiths wished the automobile would not damage their business model.
  • I've mixed thoughts on this. On the one side, I have no problems with the ads on Google or even web pages that show ads or banners. On the other side, I loathe pop-up ads that force me to watch, spawn another ad for each one I close, and things of that nature. If advertising companies kept it simple, such as displayed on the same page as the content so I can read the content and ignore the ads if I so choose, then I might even look at them. If, however, other companies insist on using pop-up ads, then I will continue to block them as I prefer to read the content and not be forced to read what someone who does not know me thinks I shold be interested in.
  • Imagine this. You get you paper and open it. As you're trying to read your paper, someone throws an advertisment at you and someone else places an advertisement between you and your paper. How long would you stand for this? In general, people do not hate ads because they pay for content. People hate the intrusive manner in which ads are delivered. It's the advertising companies who have the short sighted goals and don't understand they are hurting themselves and the sites they're displayed on.
  • Thanks for the link to Adblock.
    Maybe I can kill those flash ads that bog my PC down
  • If I did not use AdBlock on Firefox, I would not be able to load this article in under 3 minutes using broadband. If ads, especially those from double-click, did not take so much more time to load than the content I want to see, I would not have to use AdBlock.

    I cannot believe that an Internet-based company wants to limit the functionallity of any kind of software. How about we limit the security and stability of the web servers your company uses to feed annoyances across the web?
    Because so many companies "got fat" for the sole reason that Microsoft dominated (and still dominates) the browser market and that they would never add functionallity into thier products to limit a non-competing company's revenue even thought that is what the consumer would like, is no reason to keep these giant gas-bags afloat.
    This technology allows the browser user to preemptivly block content thier browser renders, this can help with speed, blocking unwanted ads or pictures, keep from being forced to request other websites for traking purposes, and is has many other uses all controled by the user.

    And who better to have the power to stop sites from tracking them and to keep malicious software from permiating thier computer.

    There will always be those that provide free content without ads like me
  • What "Smith" fails to realize is that adverstisng in a newspaper doesn't cloud the information that a user is reading.
    ...Not to mention how thrilled I'd be if I could purchase a newspaper without advertisement....the paper would stop breaking the seams out of my back pocket. :)
  • A cable company in my area is blasting commercials for their service showing digital television sets that are cut up like a newspaper without ads. Even they do not see their ads are already blocking the intended content, turning people off. "Free content" these days has more of a cost than people are willing to put out ever since the double click generation of marketers came to light. This is nothing but a last gasp of air for their business model. The only suggestion I could offer is "get a real job". Provide goods and services for the people. If the people do not like what you have, they will tell you, as you have just stated they are doing right now. When you shut down, let me know. I will need to remove doubleclick from all the firewalls and DNS tables translating the address to local machines.
  • what a moron. HIS ads are blocked because he is stupid. Smith preys on the retards of the world and feels good about it. anytime i see a bannerad that says HIT THE ASSHAT WIN AN IPOD, it quickly gets adblocked. when i want to look at ads, i go to google. funny, those ads tell me exactly what i want and are actually helpful.
  • The internet managed just fine before advertising...

    and it'll manage just fine if the adverpushers dry up. good content will still be provided by people out of the goodness of their own hearts, and paid content will cover the rest.

    want your advert to be seen by people and not ignored? then look to google for inspiration, not flash.
  • At least the Target flyer in the Sunday paper doesn't climb up in my lap and rub itself in my face repeatedly. Maybe -- no, make that ABSOLUTELY ('cause I already do it) -- I'd leave the ads alone if they weren't so intrusive.

    Please note that Froogle doesn't have !@#%^!@#!! flash animations yet, and they're all about advertising -- maybe they listen to their customers?
  • Ad-blockers are a response to several things:
    1) popups, popunders, etc. They are annoying and obtrusive. Kind of like going to a mall and having every salesman in the place come up to you at the same time shouting their pitch in your face.
    2) The new pop-in flashes (you know, the ones that slide in over top your page content)
    3) noisy adverts. I absolutely, positively abhor sounds in adverts.
    4) Adware. Advertisers do NOT have a right to secretly install ANYTHING on my computer. Ever.
    5) "Click-through" adverts. No one has a right to require a click on their product before I can see content.

    Ads that are OK:
    1) Banner ads, even animated.
    2) 'Tween-content ads, the type where if you click for an article, you get an advert with a "skip this ad" thing. I'm used to fast forwarding through commercials.
    3) Sideline ads, similar to banner.
    4) In-content ads, preferably not animated.

    People block all ads to avoid the annoying ones. Stick to the non-annoying ads, and you won't have a problem.