Internet giants wage war on pop-up ad blockers

December 8, 2014 by Tupac Pointu
Google has launched an alternative to web advertising - called Google Contributor it charges users between 1 and 3 dollars a month to be spared ads, with the fee going to the affected websites

Imagine being able to surf the web and watch videos online without having to swat away pesky pop-up ads?

These days you can, thanks to small programs like Adblock Plus that are available free for download and that arm your browser to defend against ads.

Flashing banner ads, "pre-roll" ads (short ads that play before a video), pop-up notices that cover the whole screen—few of them make it past ad blocking software.

In the beginning, the applications acted under the radar, and were known mainly only to young people or the really tech-savvy. But now they're catching on.

Adblock Plus has nearly five million active users in France, with a further two million in the United Kingdom and 1.5 million in Spain.

Worldwide, they have amassed about 144 million active users, up 69 per cent in a year, according to a September report from Adobe software developer and PageFair, a company that helps publishers see which ads are being blocked.

Depending on the website, the percentage of viewers equipped with ad-blocking software ranges from 10 to 60 percent

Internet users may dream about ad-free surfing, but for advertisers and , who rely on ads to fund content, ad-blocking applications are the stuff of nightmares.

"This is no small matter; it affects all publishers. Our members have lost an estimated 20 to 40 per cent of their advertising revenue," Laure de Lataillade, CEO of GESTE, an association of web publishers in gaming, media, music and other domains, told AFP.

The growing popularity of ad blockers comes as companies plough more and more money into internet advertising.

A quarter of the 545 billion dollars spent on global advertising this year went on digital ads.

To protect that investment, a group of publishers in France, including Google, Microsoft and Le Figaro newspaper, have threatened legal action against the developers of ad blocking software.

In Germany, too, publishers are alarmed at the success of the anti-ad workarounds. "There have already been some companies that have lodged a formal complaint," Oliver von Wersche, head of digital marketing at Gruner + Jahr, publishers of Stern news magazine and several other leading titles, told AFP.

To protect investment in digital adverts, a group of publishers in France, including Google, Microsoft and Le Figaro newspaper, have threatened legal action against the developers of ad blocking software

'Unauthorised access'

Websites, meanwhile, are experimenting with a range of strategies to placate ad-addled audiences.

French sports daily l'Equipe's website is using a carrot-and-stick approach.

Users with ad-blocking software who attempt to watch videos receive the message: "Unauthorised access. L'Equipe.fr is funded by advertising, which allows us to offer you free content."

Once they deactivate the software they can gain access to the video.

"We have to find a viable economic model. Either the user pays for a premium model or he accepts advertising," said Xavier Spender, deputy managing director of L'Equipe group.

Sean Blanchfield, CEO of PageFair, compared the campaign against ad blockers to the music industry's takedown of the file-sharing program Napster a decade ago.

"They should instead learn from the Napster story that the users will ultimately get what they want," said Blanchfield, whose company works with publishers to devise ads that "respect users' privacy".

For Helene Chartier, head of French web developers' union SRI, the big mistake was to let users believe the internet was free in the first place, considering "there was never a problem with ads on television or radio."

Industry professionals said the growing rejection of ads—and the shrinking space for them on mobile devices—should spur advertisers to come up with less intrusive messages.

In a sign of how seriously the problem is being taken in the industry, Google has launched an alternative to web advertising.

Called Google Contributor it charges users between 1 and 3 dollars a month to be spared , with the fee going to the affected websites.

In levying the fee Google urges users to "support" their favourite websites.

The idea is currently being tested on around a dozen US websites, including The Onion, Science Daily and Mashable.

Explore further: Facebook tests ads in outside mobile apps

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31 comments

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monosodium
4.9 / 5 (9) Dec 08, 2014
Helene is wrong when she says "there was never a problem with ads on television or radio."

So that would be why there are no legal limits on how much advertising there can be per hour... no, wait a second! There are limits in broadcast media and all commercial broadcasters use their maximum allowance so far as I can tell.

The use of DVR's is commonplace and we have all commercial children's channels blocked, luckily in the UK we have CBeebies and CBBC.
alfie_null
4.9 / 5 (10) Dec 08, 2014
The Google Contributor idea seems reasonable; it would also be cool if, for ad-heavy sites that didn't participate, being a paying member would cause Google to alter their page rankings for me, presenting those ad laden sites way down in the list.

I'd be unsurprised if certain parts of the marketing industry were adamantly against it.

Using legal means to force the presentation of ads is dubious; wrong in an ethical sense. A step towards a dystopia wherein all individuals are legally compelled to endure advertising. Imagine if there were a law requiring you to watch, say, two hours of advertising a day. Regardless of your use of the Internet or anything else.
Luciann
5 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2014
They are paying for their sins.
If ads would've not been so intrusive, probably adblock wouldn't even exist.
I started using adblock after google added the annoying video ads on youtube. I felt that the ads ruined the whole experience. To be honest I have no problem with most ads, but those that are shoved down your throat .. well.

So my opinion is that internet is like a living thing, when there is an imbalance, there will a response and adblocker was that response, because let's face it, the program could be done years ago, but there was no need
Kaymen
4.9 / 5 (9) Dec 08, 2014
There IS a big problem with ads on television and radio. First, the imbalance of volume on television between programming and ads. I've always had to turn the volume way up while watching something just to barely hear it and then quickly mute it before the commercials come blaring out at me. Second, we are nearing the 50/50 point between programming and ads on both television and radio. I remember a time when you had to rush to the bathroom/kitchen during a commercial break. Now, you have time to releive yourself, make a snack, check your facebook or email, and still end up sitting through one or more commercials when you get back. Ads are why I pay for a Netflix account instead of cable service. I'm sick of commercials telling me why I need this drug/car/bank/fast food/or any other damn thing I don't want.
Lex Talonis
4.1 / 5 (7) Dec 08, 2014
My favourite topic of hate... Advertising Saturation.

I call bullshit on Google and Co., and their high pressure sales tactics.

I mean just how much "Stuff" do you need to know about, be pressured into buying, owning and using?

Adds? I have 3 pairs of shoes, work boots, house boots and dress shoes and two bicycles for transport - that one is the spare for the other when overhauls are due like rebuilding wheels etc - OK so it doesn't matter that these smug fuckers want to shove endless advertisements for things that I neither want, need or will ever use....

Emelda Marcos had 5000 pairs of shoes, and only 2 feet.. Duh.

And the principle of SHOPPING for what you want - like looking for it? What ever happened to real advertising? A smartly colored, stylish shop front with an informative sign.

Free to air TV has failed is because they got greedy, lazy and served up so much shit the audience got up and left.

The internet? Without add blocking, it's intolerable.
megmaltese
5 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2014
The problem with ads is that they are too invasive.
I don't mind some banners here and there, but popup windows everywhere, ten and ten of flashing banners that slow down everything... well I have activated adblock because of these ad saturated pages.
Also consider that these pages with so many ads... make ALL OF THEM INVISIBLE.
Elmo_McGillicutty
5 / 5 (11) Dec 08, 2014
The premise of this story is such a lie. When the cable companies first started, there was a hugh backlash...pay for TV was unheard of. They promised Congress, FCC and the people(customers) that because there was a monthly fee, that there would be NO advertising!

And free internet? I pay $50 a mouth for my free internet!

Talk about crap!.....this is real crap.

Selena
Dec 08, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
LariAnn
5 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
If Google and other internet bullies succeed in forcing ads on internet users whether they like it or not, perhaps that will be the straw that starts an anti-advertising revolution. Already I do my best to make sure I don't do business with any company that pollutes my TV time with ads and if the internet follows suit, social media may just be the thing to start a viral revolution against companies that are so invasive and annoying with their constant attempts to wrest money out of our wallets. Buy NOTHING from these companies and they will feel the pain. Make them squeal!
PhyOrgSux
3.8 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
This article got details wrong.

Firstly it is mainly Google that has been concerned about the particular ad blocking software mentioned here (they are also most dependent on advertising revenue) but they have also been paying AdBlock Plus to allow their ads to be shown.

See this page for sources:
http://www.neowin...039s-ads

This just means also that AdBlock Plus is not guaranteed to block your ads.
pntaylor
4 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
I don't mind the idea of advertising, on web pages.
Pop-ups? Well that's a different story. And now we have to deal with them on our television screens, blocking subtitles, covering important story visuals and drawing attention away from the story.
With some 1 hour programs, you get about 20 to 25 minutes of story, with pop-ups on top of it.
teledyn
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2014
Interesting: it never once occurs to any of the complainants that their approach to advertising is not informative but obnoxious. On the other hand, you have people lining up to watch Jameson Whiskey and Guiness adverts on YouTube. What's next, then? Suing people who won't listen to Top-40 radio? Compulsory newspapers to every mailbox with a weekly test to avoid prosecution and fines for failure to read the junkmail?

When ever a site tells me I must unblock or pay-up before I grace them with my attention, I know they are not providing information, they are providing click-bait, and I quietly raise my middle finger to the terminal screen and move on never to return, because I know what they apparently do not know: there is no shortage of content online and the ONLY way to grab attention to one's message is to make damn sure that message, whatever it is, is compelling.
zzip188
4 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
Don't give up your right to block ads. You are paying your ISP for access to all available content, advertisers should not force you to pay to look at ads that use your bandwidth you paid for and degrade your device's performance (wasting your valuable time, slowing response, causing distractions). The internet benefits everyone as a utility based on pubiicly developed technology (Bell Labs govt-allowed monopoly, DARPA, NASA, etc.). Advertisers and ISPs should be taxed to reduce infrastructure costs and keep it "free" instead of monopolizing it only for commercial exploitation. They want to pay nothing themselves while forcing users to spend their time and $$$ for watching highly controlled limited content, including implementation of universal surveillance of all consumers. Ad Blocker blocks YouTube? Try another website for cute cat videos, promote real competition, don't encourage monopolies. Free TV had three 60-sec. ads per 30 min., a fair bargain and you could change the channel.
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (6) Dec 08, 2014
The main reason I use ad blockers are:

Pop-up ads: Several years ago it got so bad that I couldn't read some pages without the entire screen filling with new windows. Since I had dial-up connection and limited memory, that meant the Internet was unusable.

Video ads: Same problem. Dial-up meant the page I wanted often wouldn't load, as the video ads timed out before the desired content could load.

Today there's a third reason: Many ads are excuses to install cookies, which makes them spyware.

If they'd stuck with image ads in the main page I wouldn't be using ad blockers. At that point it's a newspaper, and newspapers are supposed to have ads.
nsgaga
5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2014
Lex Talonis - I totally agree, I mean totally - and you made me laugh :)
Ads are just utter **** most of the time - and on my previous older laptop, my fan would ramp up on ads-heavy pages. And I'm pretty sensitive on something flashing at me 50x/s, I mean...
I never had problems with unobtrusive Google text ads - or simple pics here and there - if it's "targeted" content I may even like it - but all the bs they want to sell to us - and I DON'T WANT IT for the last time :)
I'm sure this can't be forced down on the users - my biz side relies on ads so there needs to be some concept of how that should work but I'm still on the side of the users. If you want to brainwash people and sell them stuff they don't really need, well I can't sympathize with that.

PhyOrgSux
2.5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2014
Adblocker-like tools are an issue for Google because, more than 90% of their revenue comes from advertizing (Microsoft and the Le Figaro newspaper are not very dependent on advertising revenue).

Now according to an article in The Atlantic, over 50% of the Google adverts are not even seen by a human.

http://www.theatl.../383533/

Timothy_Riches
5 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2014
Even websites that I would normally disable ad-blocking for are too saturated with ads. Websites need to be a lot more circumspect about who they sell adspace to, and exercise much more control over the intrusiveness of the ads. And pop-ups are a deal-breaker. If a website places something in front of the content that I must click to remove, I will instead close the tab altogether and get the info from another site.
rp142
5 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2014
Several of the ad hosting companies have served up malware in ads, making them unacceptable security risks. It doesn't help their cause that they refuse to to take the simple steps to stop this happening. Basic security requires that dangerous sites are blocked from entering your network.

I disable my in browser adblocking software for sites that I want to support, until the first pop up ad appears... Like it did on phys.org about a week ago. Ads that actually prevent you from viewing the site you are trying to support and not reasonable.

As long as ad companies continue invade our privacy and compromise our security, it is only sensible to block them.
baudrunner
5 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
The "Information Highway" is littered with billboard advertising and unwanted pop-up ads that detract from the user experience. It's those pesky Shockwave Flash ads that annoyed me from their first introduction back at the turn of this century, and made me realize that I was paying more for the bandwidth occupied by hard-sell advertising tactics than I was for the information that I was looking for.

It is for that reason that I started investigating ad-blockers, and by now I've found the best and most effective extensions for my browser:

Adblock Plus: https://addons.mo...ck-plus/

Bluhell Firewall: https://addons.mo...irewall/

Ghostery: https://addons.mo...hostery/

Don't stop at pop-up blockers - get the trackers before they strike!
baudrunner
4.6 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2014
For that matter, Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus memory resident scanning software is the most annoying product ever to pollute and slow down the personal computer. I remove it completely when I buy a new computer. The only resident security program I have is Windows Defender, a pretty good alternative that does not intrude on the user experience. I use SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware periodically to clean my computer and scan for trojans and the like.

You can enjoy the internet to the max and you never have to buy a thing, really. Take it from me.
sirchick
5 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2014
Take legal action all you want, people will just make another that is not owned by anyone and is created by hundreds of programmers in open source. Can't stop it at end of the day.
Uncle Ira
4.4 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2014
Hooyeei, this is a first for the physorg. An article that everybody agrees on. That's the refreshing change.

I use the AddBlock doodad. And he works really good for me. I don't see any or a lot of those silly wavy sparkly things no.

I also use the NoScript thing too. But I don't know how it works me. The little-Ira-Skippy got that on here for me. It's stops something called java-Skippy from doing stuffs I can not see. It seems to make things go faster. But it was tricky at first, I had to get the little-Ira-Skippy to show me how to turn it on and off when I go to the place I want to see the video stuffs and blocks of pictures.
octopodian
5 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
The first goal of advertising is to persuade, not to inform. They believe that by spying on us, and assaulting us with corporate Newspeak they can irritate us into buying something. I use blockers because of I can't stand the distraction of trying to read something while a video ad plays. SFGate puts 72 cookies, trackers, beacons and what have you on my computer when I visit their site. I simply do not trust any of these companies (from Google and Facebook on down) with my information. Paid services are preferable.
baudrunner
5 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
Computer usage tracking is counterproductive to providing rich and varied content in search engine returns for information seekers. I have noticed a drop in the quality of returns from my search criteria across the board, especially from those search engines that are designed to return content based on what I might be interested in buying, purposely related to whatever it is that I am looking for information about, without any thought to commercializing the experience initially.

If I am interested in buying a product I always go to the chain store sites and search their product lines, then go in person to whatever store to buy it at the best price. It's just a better experience all around, what with return policies and all. I don't need, or want, any help from the online search engines.

I keep saying, we are living in a world where just because something is possible to do means that it gets done, whether we asked for it, want it, or need it. That has to stop.
Urgelt
5 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
Some sites are really pushing hard on ads. >80% of content is ads on some of them. Even worse are sponsored articles - they *look* like journalism, but they aren't.\

I have two points to contribute.

The first is that I own my attention. My connection is a *peer* connection. I have the right to accept or refuse *any* content.

The second is that companies who annoy me are not generating sales. Ads which obstruct and interfere are not interesting. Those ads are wasted money, totally.

Put it together: the only advertising that's actually worth a damn is advertising I *want* to see. The rest of it shouldn't even be under discussion.

Here's what I think: Google is going about it wrong. Rather than asking me to pay to be spared inappropriate, uninteresting advertising, they should draw me in with ads I want, and volunteer, to see. Attract my eyeballs. Do not try to force them. Forcing will not generate sales, not from me.
Graeme
4.5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2014
Phys.org ads with animation turned off are tolerable though. 1 ad trhough google, and a bar of 4 from taboola. Browsers with pop up blockers would not have had to put those on if pop-ups were not so annoying. So I see few of those. The most annoying are those that try to stop you closing their window.
BuLLeTZ
5 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2014
Sean Blanchfield is an incompetent moron He says "Sean Blanchfield, CEO of PageFair, compared the campaign against ad blockers to the music industry's takedown of the file-sharing program Napster a decade ago."

Ad Blocking is nothing like Napster, we are NOT stealing the sites copyrighted content we are going to the site to view content ie; news articles, videos, or products. We as net surfers are not going there to be forced to watch some stupid ad/commercial about an item we have no interest in.I stopped watching TV due to the sheer number of commercials that inhabit 1 30 minute TV segment.

It is completely ridiculous. Net surfers today are very capable of searching for a product without an ad. and if your going to advertise a product put it on a site that is relevant like Amazon, where the net surfer is actually looking/shopping for something. Basically the ad should be relevant to the show or site being visited.
FainAvis
4 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2014
And my local supermarket has started to blast audio adverts at me as I shop. My quick fix is to wear industrial earmuffs, walk around and buy nothing. When I am asked "Can I help you find something?" I just make fake lip movements with no sound, make unintelligible gestures, smile and point to the PA. Hey, there are other supermarkets, and I always carry the competitor's bags with their logo to let the present store know I am gone there.
baudrunner
4 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2014
The concept of making pop-up, adware, and tracking software blockers illegal is a sad testimony to the intensive push to commercialize all things in keeping with the capitalist ideal, to the detriment of the quality of our overall life experience. I believe strongly in independent freedoms and the pursuit of all things American, the free-est nation in the world, but I draw the line at the transparent intrusiveness and invasions of our privacy that exist solely for marketing purposes. The enjoyment of our freedoms are thereby compromised.

In fact, it is the unsolicited pop-up ad and the invisible browsing habit tracking software that should be made illegal. They do nothing to enhance our online experience, and in fact detract from it, returning search results that often have little to do with our expectations.

I am glad that Open Source products exist to aid us in ridding ourselves of these annoyances. Some of those products are ingenious.
BSD
1 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2014
I'm trying to achieve a post-Google Internet existence.

Called Google Contributor it charges users between 1 and 3 dollars a month to be spared ads, with the fee going to the affected websites.


That won't work either, I'll just go somewhere else.

This is no small matter; it affects all publishers. Our members have lost an estimated 20 to 40 per cent of their advertising revenue,"


Umm, suck shit. I hope you fail completely.

Lex Talonis
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2014
What is it with these retarded advertising companies?

What is it with them, that beyond going looking for what I want, where I want it, etc., does the FORCED viewing of adds for things that I never, want, need, can afford, or fit into my longer term plans, don't they get?

If I want to find out about some ancient ruins, somewhere; it means I am acheologically minded - I just want to see some ruins and read up on some history and facts.

I don't want 50,000 fucking adds on air fares, accommodation, tourism packages, cycling routes, shoes, back packs, local dining, clothing, etc., etc., etc., add (sic) nauseum.

IF I wanted to go on a holiday to that destination, then I could LOOK THEM UP myself, IF and WHEN I needed too.

So why fuck my life up constantly on the internet with never ending sewerage of shit I neither want nor need, and just chews up my fucking bandwidth for no good reason?

If the idiots and their endless saturation advertising were not such utter arseholes!

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