In the last century, technology delivered advertisements to viewers and readers in just a handful of ways. Television and radio commercials. Newspaper and magazine ads. Billboards and direct mail. Did I miss anything? Well, here we are in the 21st century where it’s difficult to escape advertising unless you’re browsing the web. Wait. What?
Ad Tech, Meet User Tech
Advertising proliferated onto the public internet almost as soon as the first GIF image displayed on an ancient Mosaic browser for the Mac. Today, most of the content available on the internet is free thanks to advertising. Here’s the problem. We browse the internet using various technologies which are then used by advertisers to promote their wares and track our whereabouts online.
How effective is all that technology? It’s very effective at annoying those who browse the web, but not as effective as you might think for advertisers. How else can you explain why Mac360 readers– a website obviously about Apple, the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and technology– view ads by window manufacturers, brands of apples, and other completely inappropriate ads for the site?
Thou Shalt Block
How can you defeat that attack?
Enter Adblock Plus and Ghostery, two free Mac browser apps which use technology to give you controls over which advertisements will be used. All. None. Or, some; specifically, those you pick. Allow me to recommend Ghostery over ABP because the controls are simpler, and the popup display of ads and trackers gives you an idea of which websites should be whitelisted to allow an ad or two (that’s how we keep the lights on) and which should be blacklisted because they abuse readers.
Ghostery is a browser extension with nominal settings.
Easy peasy, right?
On the other hand, Adblock Plus has more features. It enables complete ad blocking, but also allows acceptable ads that use what is called non-intrusive advertising. Those ads may be displayed by default. Adblock Plus has more controls to disable malware domains, disable social media buttons, disable ad tracking, and more.
Interestingly, Adblock Plus also accepts payment from advertisers to have their ads whitelisted, so some ABP users may see advertising anyway.
Like Ghostery, settings are straightforward and don’t require a learning curve. Install the extension and ads– most of them– disappear from websites you visit, including those annoying Facebook ads.
Ad blocking is changing the face of advertising and how websites are compensated. In recent years, advertisements have become less effective, resulting in lower revenue per ad, and fewer ads clicked by a visitor or reader. The standard model of embedded ads and hidden tracking scripts must change, otherwise many websites with free content will either disappear or be forced to cut back on content, or, worse, be forced to embed advertising as if it was content, and promote products to make money. You see that already on many Apple-oriented websites with affiliate links to Amazon and so-called product ‘specials’ which merely are another form of advertising. That means the content becomes diluted and advertising appears more like embedded content.
Still, if you want to browse faster on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, just use an ad blocker.