AdBlock Plus Victory Threatens The Future Of Content On The Net


Content on the internet is generally free at the point of consumption. The content provider makes their resources available to browsers in exchange for viewing ads on the content pages. The content provider's business model is based on getting sufficient views and consequentially click through to provide it with the funds to keep operating.

Its a tenuous business model at best - we've seen some pretty big name sites disappear over the last year as the model fails to meet their funding requirements.

The alternative model is a paywall - locking up content (all or just some premium level stuff) behind a paid subscription or per access service. It has generally proven to be a limited success.

AdBlock Plus is a piece of software which prevents ads from displaying on websites. In doing so it damages the revenue stream for the publisher and makes it less likely that the website will be able to continue. 

In Germany (home of AdBlock Plus's owner Eyeo) several news sites challenged AdBlock Plus's legality in court. They lost. Which sets a precedent that could break the internet for everybody.

Major news sites cost an awful lot of money to run, those users who use AdBlock Plus to deny the publishers a revenue stream are effectively strangling the service that they use by cutting off the funds that would allow them to keep publishing news. Perhaps those users who install AdBlock Plus would never consider clicking on an advert, but by blocking those adverts from even showing they are impacting on the 'circulation' figures of those sites, which could reduce the ad display rates.

Worst of all, AdBlock Plus is a business that makes money out of damaging other legitimate businesses. For that reason I hope that the German court revises its decision under appeal. Otherwise those legitimate businesses will have to start employing tactics that ensure website ads get viewed - something that makes the web less friendly for everyone.

Updated to clarify that AdBlock Plus is the product which was involved in the German court case.

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