There is a war going on! It is a titanic struggle between advertisers who want to put their message in front of as many people as they can, and consumers who do not want to be bothered. Advertisers have resorted to in-your-face ads that cover the whole screen and are often difficult or impossible to close. Computer users have then resorted to using software to block ads.
For as long as there has been advertising on the web there has been ad-blocking software available. I have generally tried to avoid recommending any ad blocking software by name, the reason being that by the time I write a review of a good ad-blocker the advertisers will find a way to circumvent it then my recommendation looks rather dumb.
That notwithstanding, for the last few months I have been using a program named U-Block Origin (not to be confused with plain U-Block) to avoid intrusive advertising. The program has worked well, and a measure of how well it works was demonstrated to me when I went to one web site.
A while back I went to a news site many readers will be familiar with. When I pointed my browser to www.forbes.com what I got was a message reading “Thanks for coming to Forbes.
Please turn off your ad blocker in order to continue.” I decided I did not want to disable U-Block Origin and I really did not need to look at that Forbes article anyhow so I went elsewhere. That is really the conscientious thing to do because if you object to being exposed to ads on a web site then just do not go there.
I was in for a surprise a few days later when I again surfed by www.forbes.com and this time it told me “Hi again. Looks like you’re still using an ad blocker. Please turn it off in order to continue into Forbes’ ad-light experience.” I am not exactly sure what an “ad-light experience” is, but the experience of being barred from entering the web site did tell me something.
It is obvious that advertisers are aware of how effective ad-blocking software such as U-Block Origin can be. So the next escalation in this online arms race is that some web sites are now pushing back against consumers who use effective ad-blocking software. Some web sites such as Forbes have gone so far as to tell visitors if they use ad-blocking software they are not welcome to use the site.
Philosophically I do not have an issue with this because web sites that are ad-supported have a right to protect their financial interests. Paid sites such as the Wall Street Journal provide an advertising-free experience, but their subscription is expensive. In my opinion, what is needed is an online micro-payment system. While I am not willing to pay US$28.99 a month to use the Wall Street Journal web site, I would gladly pay a dime or a quarter every time I read an article there if there were just a convenient way for me to do that.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant with more than 20 years IT experience and a Texan with a lifetime love for Mexico. The opinions expressed are his own. He may be contacted through his web site at SMAguru.com.