The Ad-blocking Revolution May Be Mere Months Away, But That's Not A Good Thing
Charles Arthur is far from my favourite journalist, I dislike his all too apparent bias and inability to take a balanced view. Sometimes though he's right on the money. Here's a good example, on his latest post around ad-blocking, which becomes an OS level feature with the launch of iOS 9.
Let's all agree on something here. There are terribly intrusive, bandwidth heavy ads on the internet. They make pages load slower and delay you in getting to the content that you're after.
Against that you have to weigh the desire of the content publisher to be paid for the time, effort and costs of making that content available to you. My view has always been if you don't want the pain of the ads go to another site and there are sites I no longer visit specifically for this reason.
The view of others is that by blocking bad adverts we encourage advertisers to use less intrusive ones. That seems naïve to me. In any technology 'war' like this all that actually happens is that the two sides become involved in an ever-escalating war of attrition.
What does concern me is Apple's motivation behind this move. Is it really about improving user's internet experience or an opportunity to damage Google's advertising business? More so, how does putting control of allowable content into the hands of the company affect the neutrality of the internet itself.
Will websites that publish negative review or commentary about Apple or its products suddenly find that they get added to blacklists which cut off their revenue stream by blocking adverts? The potential for misuse is huge, even if that capability isn't currently part of the Apple ad-blocking model.
The truth is that if we were hearing about this as a Microsoft construct, with control of what advertising is allowed from which websites potentially resting in Redmond, there would be uproar and outcry.