Some quick thoughts on blocking ads - native vs. network

So I installed an ad blocker today for the first time. I was keen to see what 5% increase in speed when browsing looked like - not because I have some aversion to ad tech per se.

What immediately suprised me was that Google’s paid search ads were being blocked. This felt like a “well duh” moment, but when I thought about it a little more it felt even less logical.

Everything I’d read had said that ad blocking would result in a greater amount of native advertising. Ads like sponsored posts on Gruber or Techmeme would come to the fore, and ads served via a network like DoubleClick or The Deck would fade into the background until dead.

But Google’s paid search ads are a form of native advertising. They’re not part of some third party network. Whoever coded the ad detection inside the app I’m using has actively targeted Google.

The future then becomes some third party defining what an ad is just so they can block it? That feels pretty backward to me.

I subscribe to Albert Wenger’s view on content blockers. They are a natural extension of the user-agent model which is ultimately about giving the user control. However control when it comes to ad blockers shouldn’t mean one companies view of what an ad is, it requires a finer grain of control on the users side. Preferences over specific ad networks, the nature of ad content, of how much network resource it’s acceptable to use. Only then will the user have control.

Daniel Bower

Blogging about platform regulation: algorithms, interoperability, kill zones as well as other bits and bobs. Read about my research, or read more about me.