Ad blockers do more harm than good

Author: sarahwornow7 | Last modified: July 16, 2018, 5:50 p.m.


PRO (3 arguments)

1. Claim: Ad blockers starve websites and companies of revenue from ads, therefore forcing websites to shut down as they don’t have the proper funding to fund themselves.
Warrant:

Ad blockers starve many companies of revenue from ads, which is the way the majority of websites get their profit. Furthermore, they block revenue from websites that send out the ads. This can lead to sites having to use more intrusive ads, or start charging money from the users. We all have our favorite websites, and if you like a website that is driven by ad revenue, you are undermining their work by having Adblock turned on in your browser. These websites need ads so they can be free and helpful to the public. The internet is built on advertising. It’s the best revenue stream it currently has, and while it’s not ideal, people are doing all sorts of really clever things to make it more relevant, less intrusive and more useful both to advertisers and consumers. Except, that is, for the users who choose to exclude themselves from this economy and simply suck resources out of the internet using adblockers. According to the Washington Post,the 15% of US internet users with ad-blockers have cost advertising companies $22 billion dollars this year and a projected $35 billion by 2020 in revenue. You might say, “well these companies can just advertise elsewhere.”  But for small companies and websites, other forms of advertising are too expensive.  Billboards can cost over $230,000 in a year! This is significantly more placing an internet ad which can cost only 20 cents per view.  The tremendous loss of revenue created by Adblockers hits large companies as well.  A Facebook decision last year to create tamper-proof ads that can't be removed by ad-blockers is expected to yield an additional $720 million this year in advertisement revenue for the social media giant, according to the PageFair research analysis. Similarly, by blocking adblockers , Google made $887 million in lost ad revenue from Adblockers. The doomsday scenario for website publishers is that ad blocking becomes easier, more well known and regularly used. As we said, it is already estimated that companies will lose $22 billion this year and $35 billion by 2020.

Impact:

Judge, do you want to live in a world of inconvenience and expense where all the websites charge weekly payments for their services? Do you want to use a limited internet with far fewer options because all of the small businesses and individual bloggers can no longer afford to provide content?  Do you want to live in a world where the rich have access to more content than the poor? That’s the world that Adblockers are creating.

Sources:

Washington Post, removeadblock.com

2. Claim: While internet users don’t like ads, they don’t like paying for internet content even more.
Warrant:

When given the choice of a free internet with ads visible or an internet without ads that costs money to access, people are willing to see some ads to keep their favorite websites free. Surveys repeatedly show that upwards of 75% of consumers prefer ad-supported Internet sites where the content is free over ad-free sites where they would pay fees for content. Fewer than 10% of consumers want to pay for content. More than 90 percent of Americans polled by the Digital Advertising Administration said that free content was important to the overall value of the Internet, and more than 60 percent said it was “extremely” important. By driving digital publishers, including some of the most well-known news organizations in the world, to impose fees on consumers in order to continue to support their business and content-development objectives, the ad-block profiteers are ignoring the will of consumers like you and me.

Sources:

Interactive Advertising Bureau; Digital Advertising Administration

3. Claim: Ad blockers will create a internet monopoly, where a few big companies will control everything and smaller companies won’t have a chance.
Warrant:

Companies want consumers like you and me to use only their product. If there are ad blockers it makes it so that smaller website and app creators cannot keep up as they don’t earn any revenue. This hurts our economy as fewer new companies will succeed and it hurts the consumer because it severely  limits our choices.

Impact:

As evidenced at The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple is trying to pull iPhone and iPad users off the web. It wants you to read, watch, search, and listen in its Apple-certified walled gardens known as apps. It makes apps, it improves apps, and it profits from apps. But, for its plan to work, the company will need those entertainers and publishers to funnel their content to where Apple wants it to be. As the company makes strategic moves to devalue the web in favor of apps, those internet content creators dependent on ads to stay afloat may be forced to play along with Apple and shut down their websites, which are now free to everyone.  

Sources:

Apple Developers Conference notes



CON (4 arguments)

1. Claim: Ad blockers protect your computer from picking up unwanted and unsafe malware viruses.
Warrant:

When viewing a website you don't even have to click on the ads in order to pick up viruses. These viruses are so severe that they can steal your bank account information, your social security number and steal your hospital information. Judge, you can be in serious danger from just being on a website that contains a malware infested ad. Hackers are becoming more aware of this and are beginning to use this more often. According to the U.S senate subcommittee on investigations malicious ads increased 225 percent between 2012 and 2013. Obviously judge, the hackers are becoming more and more aware of this and are beginning to exploit this issue. "We estimate that last year over 12.4 billion malicious ad impressions were served," said Craig Spiezle, executive director and president of Online Trust Alliance, a nonprofit that educates businesses and consumers on security and privacy issues. In February of this year, an engineer at a security firm discovered that advertisements on YouTube served by Google's ad network delivered malware to visitors computers. … That virus was designed to break into consumers' bank accounts and transfer funds to cybercriminals," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. YouTube is owned by Google. And in a statement sent by e-mail, a Google spokesman said, "In February, we detected ads on YouTube that violated our advertising policies. We have zero tolerance for these incidents and our teams quickly took the appropriate actions to resolve this issue. And according to Google's blog, Google removed 350 million bad ads in 2013, including disabling ads from more than 400,000 websites that were hiding malware. "In just one day, in just one hour, 300,000 users were exposed to a malicious ad of which 9 percent or 27,000 users were compromised," Spiezle said about the Yahoo incident in which malware was introduced into people’s computers through ads.

Impact:

Here’s a scary number, 1.3 billion. That’s the monthly traffic of msn.com, which was hit by malware in an advertising campaign earlier this year. Here’s an even scarier number: 70 percent. That’s the estimated aamount of infected advertising campaigns that deliver malware as a payload. What’s 70 percent of millions and millions of pageviews that cycle through the most popular websites each day? Far too much. Judge ad blockers will stop this malware epidemic by stopping the ads in the first place. Judge, this will protect billions of people from the devastating loss of their identity, bank account numbers and vital health information. Knowing this Judge, wouldn’t you want adblockers on your computer?

Sources:

United States Senate, subcommittee on investigations; malwarelabs

2. Claim: Ad blockers bring more control to your internet and your data.
Warrant:

Judge, haven't you wanted to have control over your ads? Well, now you can with ad blockers, they can do the trick! It also gives you  control of your data. Ads take up a lot of  data that could be spent on something more important, like calling a loved one or a friend. Ads have more power than you think. Ads can eat up to 79% of your monthly data. That is a huge chunk of your data. With ad blockers, that 79% is yours again. According to AT&T, even phone carriers are telling customers to use ad blockers to maximize your data for other things.

Impact:

Like I said before, no one wants to lose control over their internet time and data. It's counterproductive for regular people who have jobs and bills and taxes and have no time to waste. That 79% of data could be used for special moments and important things like emergencies.

Sources:

TechDirt, The Guardian, Adage.com

3. Claim: Ad blockers are actually beneficial to the advertisement industry.
Warrant:

Ad blockers exist for a reason: that people are annoyed and tired of having pop up ads or regular ads that consume the whole page when using the internet. Since the at least one fifth of the world’s internet users has installed ad blockers according to a Priori Data Study, and 83% of citizens of the US, UK, Germany, and France want to block ads, there must be something wrong with the ads. With this knowledge, companies can make better investments in advertisements and therefore make more money from the advertisements. Audiences are simply not paying attention to banner social media advertising. And these ads are not having direct impact on sales. Viewers have become de-sensitized, or purposefully determined to block out advertisements and content that doesn’t interest them, or that they find intrusive. Study after study confirms that “click-through rates” (the percentage of people visiting a web page who access a hypertext link to a particular advertisement through the website)on internet ads are just 0.01%, and that 4 out of 5 users (80%) have never even bought a product because of a Facebook ad. A project called EyeTrackShop has been studying where readers' eyeballs focus on web pages. They have found that users familiar with social media, especially younger users who have are familiar with the websites, rarely even look at advertisements in the sidebars (unless they are trying to delete it), much less click on them, and make a purchase.

Impact:

Last year, General Motors, went as far as to pull their paid advertising campaigns from Facebook all together (Facebook is the only major social media site with sidebar ads). Clearly, this method of advertising is ineffective, and inconvenient and annoying to all users of the internet. A recent CMO Survey, conducted by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Management Association showed that “In August 2013, social marketing spending accounted for an average of about 6.6% of marketer budgets. Within the next year, that share was expected to rise to 9.1%, and in the next five years, marketers expected social to account for 15.8% of spending.” Why spend that much money on something that is completely ineffective? Not only are advertisements annoying to the website users, they also waste money that could be used for effective advertisements by the company. Instead of wanting to purchase something from the advertisements, people are trying to block them and make them disappear. Companies are wasting their money on inefficient methods of advertising. By installing ad blockers, it alerts companies that their advertisements are not working, and therefore they can come up with a different method of advertising that is less annoying and produces more revenue.

Sources:

Forbes, Priori Data Study, EyeTrackShop

4. Claim: Digital ads can violate your privacy and make you feel unsafe and ad blocking can fix that.
Warrant:

Let’s face it judge, you, me and the rest of the world not in the marketing industry hate online ads. And for good reason. Online ads can expose consumers (and particularly children) to things they don't want to see, such as ads about gambling, drugs, alcohol or pornography. According to a recent HubSpot survey, a shocking 73% of people say digital advertising bothers them with a whopping 50% of people saying online ads make them UNCOMFORTABLE or UNSAFE.  If ads are not only only annoying people, but making them feel uncomfortable and unsafe, we should definitely have the right to block them. Also 51% of people who actually clicked on digital ads said that it was a mistake or that the ad tricked them into clicking on it. Judge, this has happened to all of us and you know it is severely annoying and can be very disturbing if you are taken to an inappropriate site from a sidebar website ad.

Impact:

Not only are ads severely annoying, they can also be intrusive and disturbing.. Ad blockers are an easy way to stop this, and put the consumer back in control of the products they see on the internet. Clearly ad blockers are good in that they can prevent adults and children from accidentally seeing inappropriate ad content.