One in five smartphone users choose adblocker

A New York Times Article today is bemoaning the fact that Google and Facebook, who have given you a free service in exchange for collecting all of your data, now find themselves with an ever-growing custom base that doesn't want to look at its advertising, which is one of the largest sources of revenue for these companies.

Aren't Silicon Valley companies the same ones who told musicians and content creators to "adapt," when the creators complained they were making little to no money on Youtube and so forth? Isn't Facebook the same company that holds brands viewer's hostage, demanding they pay more to reach them?

The Times article sets up two sides of the ad-blocking debate thusly: "The use of ad-blocking software has divided the online world. Supporters say it allows people to get better access to content without having to suffer through abrasive ads. Opponents, particularly companies that rely on advertising, say blocking ads violates the implicit contract that people agree to when viewing online material, much of which is paid for by digital advertising."

Problem is, The Times omitted a very important piece of the debate: it isn't just that people don't like "abrasive," ads which they don't. (Why should they?) The more pertinent fact that the times omitted is people don't like malware, and a lot of banners contain it. Just ask Forbes who pleaded with people to disable their ad-blocker, and then served up malware. TMZ also had malware in their banner ads, too. The publishers who so desperately want to monetize are ending up victims as much as the user does. But it's not just the brands who are at fault.

Dabitch wrote about this back in January:

It's not just publishers that are victims when malware, clickjacking and ransomware seeps into the banner ads on a website.

When Forbes served you malware just like the Economist did earlier, their reputation and brand suffered.

But ad networks, and analytics networks as in the case with Economist, are also victims, as the malware, ransomware and clickjacking is sieving money from them and ruining their networks reputation.

I've been saying that ad networks should have invested in security a long time ago, as publishers lend their trust to the ad networks when they use them for media. The problem is the circle of trust is too big, we might trust our ad networks partners, but the ad networks trust many more. Even Google Adsense isn't immune to bait-and-switch banner buys, and Google's Doubleclick distributed malware after some domain name shenanigans in 2010.

At this point, it's not just publishers that have tons of third party ads and javascripts in their sites, the ad networks do too. Ad networks need to clean up their act as much as publishers need to look at how many third party snippets of code they have buried in their websites. It's not just ads, analytics and tracking publishers embed, but also third party video, audio, images, social network tweets, instagrams, and so on.

For every embed, we're widening that circle of trust once more.

This is common knowledge, as anyone with a PC can attest. And naturally if you get used to an ad free website on desktop, you'll want the same experience on mobile. So I don't know why the Times wouldn't mention it, especially because they've been hit by ransomware malvertising as late as two months ago.

Oh, wait.

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