Web ads may not be the dominating revenue model in the future

I find web ads always irritating and sometimes so intrusive that they have put me off the site altogether. Now I use Adblocker with Chrome, which works very well and this allows me to visit and stay on sites which I would otherwise have avoided. Apparently Apple will also allow ad blocker apps with Safari (iOS9) and clearly they see it as a way of improving the experience of their users. But what Apple plans will allow more than just ad blocking:

“Content Blocking gives your extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content.”

Effectively Apple are offering”ghostery” rather than ad blocking:

QuartzGhostery is a popular browser extension for all major desktop browsers. It blocks all content pulled in from third-party servers.

The way the modern web works is this: if you go to a website, it only sends some text and images your way. But it also pulls in data from dozens of analytics tools, ad servers, ad exchanges, web analytics firms, social buttons and trackers, and various other forms of online surveillance that serve you ads, measure you responses, gauge your profile, figure out your shoe size, and so on. Ghostery stops all of it. Apple’s content blocker appears to allow developers to do something similar.

Why is Apple doing this? Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab lays out three ways of looking at it: either Apple is serious about all its recent privacy talk, or it is out to get Google and Facebook, or it wants people to look at the ads served by its own iAds service on its new News app. Perhaps it is a mix of the three.

But what is clear is that small businesses that rely entirely on online advertising are going to have to rethink how they make money.

In fact it could be a way for Apple not only to to differentiate themselves from their competitors but also to develop some brand loyalty from among the increasing number of web and mobile users who are just irritated and get no added value from the ads and 3rd party content.

Since using Adblocker I have returned to many sites which I had abandoned because of their intrusive ads. Typically on the news sites, “quality” news sites have upto 5 ads blocked per web page while the “tabloids” have 10 – 20 ads blocked. One tentative conclusion that I come to is that the experience of getting the “news” is inversely proportional to the number of ads on the page.

Surfing some of the news sites just now I found the number of ads being blocked as below:

NYT – 5, Wa Po – 3, Huff Po – 13, CNN – 5, NY Post – 9, CBS News – 18

The Telegraph – 13, The Guardian – 5, The Independent – 19, Daily Mail – 12, The Times -8, BBC – 4, The Mirror – 38

The Hindu – 3, Times of India – 5, Hindustan Times -6

Expressen – 7, Svenska Dagbladet – 2, Dagens Nyheter – 7, Aftonbladet – 21

Der Spiegel -3, Deutsche Welle – 0, Reuters – 17, Le Monde – 4, El Pais – 6

So by my simple reckoning, without an adblocker, The Mirror provides about the worst experience and Deutsche Welle, SvD, BBC, Der Spiegel and Le Monde offer the least intrusion and disturbance to their readers.

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