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Ad Block Wars

Story by Sagar Amrania, Images by Qarina Raissa-Vashti

How do I close this? Where is the ‘X’? How do they know I like artisan cucumbers? Why do so many local singles in my area want to meet me? How do I get rid of these ads? For many internet users, freedom from ads is only a few clicks away. There are a lot of plugins available that remove everything from pop-ups to banners from your browsing experience, but they all serve a single purpose: to block ads. Extensions that prevent ads from being displayed have only increased in popularity since their introduction in the mid 2000’s. With millions of downloads to date, the adblocking movement is showing no signs of slowing down.

With Apple including adblock support on their mobile platforms, many are wondering how blocking ads will affect the structure of the internet. Why does Apple’s support of adblocking on iOS 9 have such far reaching ramifications? To understand this, we first have to come to terms with the ugly truth: ads matter. Many of the world’s most popular websites like Twitter, Facebook and Google are reliant on ad revenue to function, and more importantly to remain free to use. Apple, however, is not reliant on ads to run. Thus, their support of adblocking is a symbolic slap in the face to web based companies around the globe.

Though avid supporters of advertising may claim so, Apple is not the bad guy in this case. They are simply providing users with a feature many have been asking for since the launch of the iPhone. After all, a large portion of mobile ads are not optimized for the platform; most pop-up or banner ads on mobile sites are obtrusive and ugly. Websites are looking for more efficient and appealing ways to deliver ads on mobile devices. “Advertisers need to focus their ads and provide people with what they want…,” says Robert Seo, CEO of Slidejoy, “which is something Slidejoy is trying to do.” Slidejoy is an android app that displays well-designed news stories and ads on users’ lock screens. The catch, the app actually pays users for using their phone. Users can get paid up to $9 a month, independent of the number of ads they choose to look at, by simply using their phones as they normally do. “It gets the user to welcome ads, because they know they are going to be compensated,” Seo says.

Even though apps like Slidejoy are trying to make ads more appealing, the fight for ad space remains in full swing. Users are tired of being inundated with unfocused and lazy ads, and are expressing that irritation by simply blocking them. It’s hard to say who, if anyone, is at fault for the current climate of internet advertising; but apps like Slidejoy are attempting to remedy the situation, through clever use of mobile real estate and by compensating users. Even though kids won’t be reading about “The Great Adblock Wars of 2015” in history books anytime soon, the internet may be feeling its effects in the years to come.

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