So what is the state of the Ads mess?

isotopp image Kristian Köhntopp -
October 13, 2017
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Ads on the web have many problems:

  • Ad selection criteria have been abused for dissemination of propaganda, for targeted malware attacks.
  • Content sites have basically lost the control over what kind of stuff they deliver through the ad-space on their site.
  • Tracking is increasingly a concern for users.
  • Ads bloat sites, slow down page display times and mess with peoples mobile data plans.
  • Ads use power and create heat in devices with a tight power budgets (basically, anything that runs on a battery and has no fans, phones, tablets, laptops).
  • Ads play unwanted video and audio, open layers and windows, popovers and popunders.
  • Ads destroy usability and layout on content sites.

The market is collapsing: basically nobody is running a browser without an adblocker any more, and those that don’t adblock in their minds - clickthrough rates are nonexistent. So when everything is on fire, is there a unified group of stakeholders - content sites, browser makers, ad-industry leaders - at work to make things “better” or at least fix their broken non-business?

Well, no. Says Marketingland in their article, ANA , 4As and IAB want to talk to CAB about their Better Ads program, but request being exempt from Chrome’s coming integral Adblock feature in exchange.

Now, Mozilla and Safari are not part of CAB, and have little interest in joining, and also put a different focus on how to handle things: Safari tries to address tracking with their new Tracking Prevention , and it’s good enough to be widely hated . Other initiatives such as DNT were a failure - not because of a lack of interest on the user side, but because advertisers and sites were boycotting it.

Google SVP of Ads and Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy said, “Our hope is once this is in place, there’s no need for ad blocking on mobile.” On the other hand, things like Brainy Ape Apps play uninterruptible video ads for Free-To-Play (“Pay To Win”) apps with install buttons in the middle of educational games targeted age 4-10. Ramaswamy clearly is a very optimistic person. And as long as the Advertisers and their channels do not realize the depth of the shit they are in it still has to get worse before it can become better.