Welcome to the Block Party

This post by Casey Johnston on The Awl, is probably the best overview of the state of ad blocking and the threat to publishers that I’ve read:

Welcome to the Block Party
The internet after ad blocking

by Casey Johnston September 14, 2015

In a 1997 segment on the short-lived tech TV show The Site, host Soledad O’Brien sits at a bar in front of a laptop computer, talking to Dev Null, a full-scale human avatar with frosted fuchsia tips and a soul patch. Motion-captured from the show’s second host backstage, he swivels from side to side, arms swinging at their joints like a marionette, jaw moving up and down as a crude stand-in for a talking animation. The clip of their discussion of recent tech news is awkwardly edited, and a huge chunk of the conversation is cut out before the avatar breaks in with a choppy laugh. “It sounds like web heaven to me, but I guess that some of the content providers weren’t so thrilled about it,” he says.

“But if you strip banner ads out of most websites… isn’t advertising really how the web is supported, financially?” O’Brien replies.

Based on the air date, July 10th, it’s possible that they were talking about the then-newly trendy practice of turning off the “auto-load images” setting in the most popular web browser at the time, Netscape Navigator. The setting had existed since version 1.0 was released in 1994, but around late 1996 and early 1997, people began to realize that they could use the setting to prevent the internet’s burgeoning population of banner ads from loading on their favorite websites. (It’s also possible that they were discussing discussing Internet Fast Forward, an early plugin for Netscape Navigator that blocked ads, cookies, and… blinking text.) Null answers O’Brien, “Oh basically, yeah, you’re undermining the entire infrastructure of the web, sure. But at least you don’t have to see commercials.”

Read the rest here: http://www.theawl.com/2015/09/welcome-to-the-block-party

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