Wednesday Marketing Series

A technical introduction to Ad Blocking


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According to InternetLiveStats, more than 3 billion people are now using the Internet! According to a report, the number of Internet users has increased from 738 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion in 2015. There is clearly no other medium which offers such a vast audience. It is like heaven for marketers and advertisers who can promote their products here.

Internet Ads are everywhere! Online Ad or Internet Ad is a form of marketing and advertising on Internet which is used to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers. It is widely used across all industry sectors. According to these stats, in 2011, Internet advertising revenues in the United States surpassed those of cable television and nearly exceeded those of broadcast television. In 2013, Internet advertising revenues in the United States totaled $42.8 billion, a 17% increase over the $36.57 billion in revenues in 2012. U.S. internet ad revenue hit a historic high of $20.1 billion for the first half of 2013, up 18% over the same period in 2012. And, this is on a rise!

There are different ways to create an online presence and reach potential customers. Let us look at some of the popular examples.

  1. Search Engine Ads

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2. Display/Banner Ads

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3. Twitter Ads

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4. Facebook Ads

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5. YouTube Ads

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Online Ads have been generating a lot of revenue and hence, are a boon for the industries, but at the same time, it has raised many concerns such as security and privacy of consumers. Online ads annoy users, sabotage their online presence and cause privacy concerns. Due to these reasons, users are always looking out for ways to avoid, ignore or block ads.

What is Ad Blocking?

Ad Blocking or Ad Filtering, means the ads do not appear to the user because the user uses technology to screen out ads. Most of the browsers today support ad blocking. There are browser extensions or plug-ins available for free download which –

  • Removes or Blocks advertising content on a webpage
  • Allows quicker loading of the webpage
  • Improved security
  • Does not track user
  • Provides better user experience

One of the most popular Ad Blockers today in the market is AdBlock Plus, which has over 300 million downloads. Some of it’s cool features include –

  • First of all, it is completely free and supported by all browsers.
  • Blocks malware, banners, pop-up ads, Internet ads including video ads.
  • Blocks ads on Facebook and youTube too.
  • Disables social media button
  • Disables user tracking

To know more about it and to experience an ad-free world, visit it’s official page.

But, before you get too happy, let me tell you that not all ads are blocked! Adblock Plus blocks all ads except Acceptable Ads!

What are Acceptable Ads?

Acceptable Ads are a compromise between advertisers and consumers. Let us admit that advertising drives the Internet. It gives us free websites and great content. To be able to use Internet and it’s content for free, we need to support advertisements. We need to support ads which are relevant but not obnoxious or obtrusive to users. Acceptable ads are –

  • Not annoying
  • Do not distort or disrupt the page content we are trying to read
  • Transparent with us about being an ad
  • Effective without shouting at us
  • Appropriate to the site we are on

Acceptable Ads are supported by many organizations including AdBlock Plus. AdBlock Plus has a criteria defined which differentiates between an acceptable and unacceptable ad. The best part about Adblock Plus is that, if you want no ads at all, you can enable that feature too (yes, you can block acceptable ads!!). So, with Adblock Plus, user is free to decide whether he wants to block all ads or  wants to allow few acceptable ads.

Which ads are Acceptable?

Now, the question that may arise is, how Adblock Plus decides which ads are acceptable and which are not. The answer to this is EasyList.

EasyList is a list or set of rules, that automatically removes unwanted content from the internet, including annoying adverts, bothersome banners and troublesome tracking. It was originally designed for Adblock, but now is used by most of the ad blockers and forms the basis of over a dozen combination and supplementary filter lists. It is a text file with all the patterns of URLs that should be blocked. You can view the EasyList here.

You can watch the video tutorial on the MarketEng YouTube channel which gives a demo on –

  • How Adblock Plus works
  • How to block ads
  • How to allow ads
  • How to check the number of ads that are blocked
  • How to view blocked HTTP requests
  • How to identify that blocked links were ads

Like it? Tweet this!Tweet: A technical introduction to Ad Blocking @themarketeng

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