I don’t use ad-blockers because I hate ads

I’m a journalist. I’m fine with ads. They pay my income.

I don’t use ad-blockers to protect my privacy. When it comes to the Internet, I’m just a typical shmo — I complain about privacy invasion but I do very little to protect my privacy.

I use ad-blockers because ad-tech makes the web unusable. Ads and pop-ups obscure the articles I’m trying to read. Which is nuts; it’s like websites are inviting hackers to come in and break their own sites. Ads slow down my Mac until the machine becomes unusable. I have a midrange 2018 MacBook Pro. It is not an underpowered machine, and yet ad-tech routinely slows it to a crawl.

We used to complain about TV commercials, but Internet advertising is way worse. TV commercials limited themselves to their own little time blocks. TV commercials didn’t shout over the dialogue on a TV show, or jump in between the camera and the actors so you couldn’t see the action.

Likewise, in magazines and newspapers, the ads didn’t creep from one side of the page to cover up the article. Nobody in 1973 was ever sitting at the kitchen table reading a magazine article only to have an ad cover up the article nagging them to subscribe to the newsletter.

The ad-tech is winning here. I use 1Blocker. It’s just not good enough, and I’m not motivated to shop around and look for alternatives, in part because it does not seem obvious to me that there is anything better than 1Blocker available.

I don’t know what the end-state here is. Maybe the best sites will start to mix subscriptions and advertising, which is a business model refined for print periodicals over the course of a century or more. And the ads will get more restrained, because the subscribers are paying customers.

By the way, here’s a secret of newspapers and magazines in the late 20th Century: The subscriptions didn’t turn a profit. They broke even, paid for the cost of production. The primary purpose of the subscription was to demonstrate to advertisers that there were people willing to pay for the periodical, and therefore these people were worth the cost of advertising too.

The problem with subscription models on the Internet is that there are too many newspapers, magazines and blogs to subscribe to, particularly if you might only want to read one article. This seems solvable, but it’s a big deal for now. 🌕

Mitch Wagner @MitchWagner