Pop-up ads. Nobody likes them. They slow down your web browsing, and they’re everywhere. When one pops up, you can’t escape quickly enough. It’s like running into your ex at the grocery store. Your mind begs you, “Abort aisle! Abort!” and you exit as quickly as you can before a casual smile hello turns into an awkward conversation you don’t want to have.
Tired of digital ads? There’s an app for that. (Disclaimer: does not block awkward run-ins with exes.)
While ad-blockers for web browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari are nothing new, Apple recently approved ad-blocker Been Choice, which allows users to block native ads within their mobile apps, like Facebook or the New York Times. No more will users be subjected to pre-roll videos on YouTube or sponsored posts on Twitter. It even works in Apple’s own app Apple News.
Uninterrupted scrolling, tweeting, viewing and reading. Sounds awesome, right? Not so fast… before you rush to the app store, you may want to consider the downsides because this isn’t a win for consumers in the long run. Here’s why:
The bad: advertisers will have to find alternative ways to reach their target
The ugly: many free sites rely on advertising to survive. No advertising = no funding = no free content
Do you use ad-blockers? You’re not alone; Approximately 47% of internet users in the U.S. use them too, which is projected to result in a loss of $20.6 billion (that’s billion with a capital “B”) dollars of advertising revenue next year. Advertising pays for your free programming. Cut out those ad dollars, and you could end up paying the price.
What does this mean for consumers later down the road?
Online vendors rely on advertising dollars as a main revenue stream. Your favorite free websites will cease to exist if they can’t adapt and find funding elsewhere. Formerly free content will come at a price. Retailers will subsidize the cost of advertising by upping the price you pay for its products and services. If there’s one thing people hate more than pop-up ads, it’s paying for something that used to be free. Doesn’t sound so great now, does it?
How are websites coping with ad-blockers?
Some websites are restricting content for users with ad-blockers. Want to watch your favorite show on Hulu? You’ll have to disable your ad-blocker first. Looking for the latest breaking news article from the Washington Post? Expect to sign up for their newsletter or subscribe to their site to gain access. Some retailers are even jacking up prices to compensate, leaving the consumer to pay for their lost revenue.
So what’s the solution?
There is no easy solution. Eventually, if not already, consumers will have to accept online advertising. It’s just a matter of in what form, whether embedded in the webpages you view, sent directly to your inbox, or paying a hefty price to opt out altogether.
UPDATE: At the time this post was written, Apple had approved numerous ad-blocking apps like the aforementioned app Been Choice. Apple has since removed Been Choice and a number of other similar apps from the App Store. AD Vice