Skip to main content

Ad Blocking, Ad Funding And The Collapsing Future Of The Internet

Free and open to all. It's a pretty good description of the internet as we see it today. There is an on-ramp fee, which your ISP and mobile providers charge you for accessing the web, but otherwise content is available to all, equitably.

That may not be true in the future.

First of all there is the question of advertising. Large sites which run teams of journalists, photographers and editors, shipping them across the country or even the world to research, report and assess stories need to be funded, and funded well. Adverts are what keeps these guys in business. However rulings in Germany which legitimised ad blocking software preventing these adverts from displaying in user's browsers subtly change the balance of funding for these websites.

Large scale adoption of ad blocking software prevents those sites from operating as they do today. Pre-roll or inter-page adverts requiring an action from the user to prove they have viewed the advert could be one solution. Barring ad blocked users could be another. In the last few weeks though more and more sites are starting to publish articles about subscriptions and how they are the future of funding.

I've seen several articles suggesting a 'Spotify for content' might be the way forward. Paying a monthly fee to view websites from a publisher or group of publishers, who then distribute that fee based on views, in a similar way to Spotify's play-based model. These sorts of paywalls haven't been successful in the past, however if the model is adopted widely enough then it could change the way web content is accessed.

Its a minefield to implement though. Will we see competing website bundles, with different sites allowing access to different subscription providers? Do we want a future of the internet that turns it into the Sky TV of content delivery, where access to sites you do want is bundled with others you don't?

An alternative option that's been suggested is that a surcharge is applied to ISP connection fees and the revenue from this is distributed to all content publishers. That's a further minefield, potentially raising the bar for internet access above the reach for low income families. Not to mention the complexities of distributing the funds across national borders, funding all content providers of any size and agreeing a model for distributing those funds.

Then there are the ISPs and backhaul service providers who want a bigger slice of the pie from content providers like Google and Facebook. How do their demands get factored in? Will we see another overhead being placed on the connection fee to cover those costs? 

There's no denying that the ad-funded internet model isn't perfect and is open to abuse. However it also provides equitable rewards for success and limits the upfront impact on the consumer. 

Nothing else proposed thus far looks remotely like a better solution. Let's hope that the action of a few (million) ad blockers don't drive us down the road to a worse place.

Image: Pixelsuite/Flickr


Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…

WhartonBrooks Indiegogo Windows 10 Mobile Even More Doomed To Failure Than Usual

WhartonBrooks is currently crowd-funding its latest Windows Mobile smartphone on Indiegogo. If crowdfunding isn't already a bad enough idea, a company trying to crowdfund a Windows Mobile device should be warning enough for you.
Not that anyone seems to be taking the project too seriously. With a few weeks left to run the campaign has managed to ensnare just 2% of its $1.1m target.
If you want a better indication of how few Window Mobile loyalists remain I doubt there is one. Of 3,900 Windows Phone enthusiasts Wharton Brooks was seeking for its new phone, it has managed to entice just 50.
Windows for Phones is dead, even if the corpse hasn't stopped twitching yet.