Ad Exec on Blockers: "Little Piss Ants" Threaten Freedom of Speech

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Ad Exec on Blockers: "Little Piss Ants" Threaten Freedom of Speech

The CEO of IAB, the US internet advertising trade body, is firing back at ad blockers.

The war between advertisers and the blockers of those adverts is becoming more heated every day and, frankly, getting a little bit schoolyard.

In a recent speech, available here, Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Internet Advertising Body, made some biting comments about his supposed adversaries in the ad blocking industry, referring to them as an "unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes." Hey, great use of the word "coven!"

Later, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rothenberg said, "these ad blocking companies are little piss ants... run by a handful of people with silly titles and funny walks who are individually irrelevant." He added that they were diminishing freedom of expression.

His comments come after a few recent skirmishes over your internet browsing eyes: AdBlock-Plus had recently complained that IAB had "disinvited" them from a major conference. Randall insists they were never "invited" in the first place.

Another momentous event was the announcement of Brave, a new browser company headed by the recently squeezed-out CEO of Mozilla. Brendan Eich's start-up officially launched a week ago. Rothenberg summarized it thus: "His business model not only strips advertisements from publishers' pages - it replaces them with his own for-profit ads."

No one on either side of this issue comes out sounding great, it must be said.

Source: Business Insider

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Not that I use ad-blockers (I've never taken the time to figure them out), but this guy really ought to look in a mirror and think about what he's saying.

Master of the Universe syndrome.

He added that they were diminishing freedom of expression.

Is that what they're calling it now? I call it "enhancing freedom of smooth internet browsing".

Escapists, it's time for you folk to weigh in. Do you use ad-blocking software (no judgment!)? Where do you stand on this?

You know admitting to using adblocker on this site is against the CoC, right? I assume this hasn't changed since the last time I read it.

Unless an admin clears this up we're gonna get a whole lot of warnings incoming.

Rothenberg...Rothenberg? Why does that name sound so familiar? Nevermind. Heh! This guy talks like a bad politician, trying to convince the public that something utterly shite and intrusive is totally for our own good and anybody getting in the way of it are destroying our freedoms. Denouncing them as bloody communists and socialists! Ahh, wait...Rothenberg is a politically related name i think. I must research!

Edit: Well wouldn't you know it, there are a few connections to right-wing politics including this http://rothenberggonzales.com/ drier than a nun's loolah, right-wing news publication. Thine eyes glaze over, the second they take in the creativeless design...then "Trump" pokes out of the numbing grey like a dumb racist cock in your eye.

I use Adblock on websites that are notorious for flooding their pages with ads. I simply don't have the bandwidth or patience to wait for these ads to load. The ads make the page take up to 800% longer to load, and this is simply absurd.

Honestly Randall is completely out of touch. He is blaming the people who use Adblock when he should be blaming the people who load their webpages with intrusive ads. Despite common belief Adblock software did not come about as a response to ads. It came as a response to intrusive content that interfered with the user experience. If anything Randall is the unethical, immoral piss ant for not creating a set of standards to improve the ad experience. He only cares about money after all, and God forbid that he set up some standards that might limit the amount of income he gets.

There are times when you click on a link and your browser "flickers" once and you just know another window has been created behind the one you're reading and you know it's coming and ARAGH there it is. Some video playing at full volume telling me to "Believe it" and how this person you can totally trust is now making $3145/month from home.

Advertising companies need to look inwards at their own industry. They need to start policing themselves first or otherwise other people (adblockers) are going to police them for them. There are literal scam ads that appear as well developed and designed as an ad for say, Toyota - a trusted brand.

And rather than the internet browsing public having to individually flag every webpage they trust to make sure they're playing legitimate ads it's far far less time consuming to just use the scattergun approach. Block -every- ad and browse with complete freedom and minimal, if any, complications.

"freedom of expression"? What a crock of shit. Advertisements are not some free speech concern, they're intrusive. Someone opening my window every 10 minutes to give me a speal about this totally not a pyramid scheme, legit business, look even Sarah of Wisconsin can do it is an intrusion, not their right to expression.

Fuck off, Randall Rothenberg, your thesaurus inspired rage posting is both petulant and transparent - you complete corporate shrew.

Another thread on adblock? The news team really likes to push the boundaries of what's permissible on the forum, don't they.

Fappy:

Escapists, it's time for you folk to weigh in. Do you use ad-blocking software (no judgment!)? Where do you stand on this?

You know admitting to using adblocker on this site is against the CoC, right? I assume this hasn't changed since the last time I read it.

Unless an admin clears this up we're gonna get a whole lot of warnings incoming.

Seems they stealthy removed that bit. Doubtful it will do anything to stop all the incoming warnings, though.


Edit:

Abomination:
There are times when you click on a link and your browser "flickers" once and you just know another window has been created behind the one you're reading and you know it's coming and ARAGH there it is.

I fucking hate that. And it's weird because I swear 'popup blockers' used to be a thing. But at some point the popup blockers seemed to stop working as well as they used to.

Xsjadoblayde:
Rothenberg...Rothenberg? Why does that name sound so familiar? Nevermind. Heh! This guy talks like a bad politician, trying to convince the public that something utterly shite and intrusive is totally for our own good and anybody getting in the way of it are destroying our freedoms. Denouncing them as bloody communists and socialists! Ahh, wait...Rothenberg is a politically related name i think. I must research!

how are adds intrusive really? ive never bought this argument, i mean sure sound/video adds are shit but otherwise they are just images or gives occupieing the space they payed to take up. I honestly dont unserstand how this actualy inconveniences anyone.

EndlessSporadic:
Honestly Randall is completely out of touch. He is blaming the people who use Adblock when he should be blaming the people who load their webpages with intrusive ads. Despite common belief Adblock software did not come about as a response to ads. It came as a response to intrusive content that interfered with the user experience. If anything Randall is the unethical, immoral piss ant for not creating a set of standards to improve the ad experience. He only cares about money after all, and God forbid that he set up some standards that might limit the amount of income he gets.

you.... dont understand how advertising companies work do you, by cutting off adds are primarily hurting the site your on, as that less clicks for the add company to actually have to pay for. if the amount of 'registered' traffic gets too low the add company will just leave and the site will need to find another who will pay for low traffic, which generally pushes the standards down. And unethical? REALLY? there is nothing ethics related at all here, adds are unethical when they are deceptive, not when they are annoying, to claim that annoying adds are unethical is absurd.

Remember when "threatening freedom of speech" wasn't tossed out every time things got inconvenient for you?

No, no it doesn't. Saying that threatens freedom of expression is like saying that me putting in headphones to drown out some political rally as I pass by is threatening the speech of those speaking at that rally. You have a right to speak, you do not have a right to be heard or listened to.

And for the record, its "pissant", one word.

When it comes to content creation sites (The Escapist, The Jimqusition, Screw Attack, ect) I will pay for the "premium" account, support them through patreon or send them money directly. I support my favorite creators directly rather than sit through ads. I, personally, like the way some creators do ads like Game Theorist or PGB where they do a short ad at the end of the video for their sponsor. Its not intrusive more enjoyable then throwing the ad in my face. Content creators deserve be paid for their hard work and time and that money has to come from somewhere. However forcing ads into peoples faces at every turn isn't the answer. The current model isn't working and needs to change. Ads are a necessary evil but they don't need to be as evil as they currently are.

erttheking:
Remember when "threatening freedom of speech" wasn't tossed out every time things got inconvenient for you?

I think my parents weren't even born then.

OT: If ads were just pictures/gifs of a thing you want to sell and not video/audio monsters (like those that Escapist had about half a year ago, by the way) and pop-ups that not only ruin your Internet browsing experience, but also eat up resources and many times force your PC to automatically download something, then I doubt people would use such measures.

This guy sounds like an epic douche nozzle. This is probably the most unprofessional and childish argument one could make. You will not incentivize people to stopping using ad blockers by insulting them or the software creators.

Everyone is free to use blockers if they see fit. It is no different than someone fast forwarding the commercials on their DVR. It is not illegal nor is it suppressing free speech whatsoever. You want to fix the problem? The industry should stop using intrusive ads, especially popups, that make sites slow or a pain to navigate. Your products will get more attention and the sites hosting the content will get paid more.

Diminishing freedom of expression? little Piss ants? Really Randall Rothenberg? Oh man, this guy is a gift! I want to hear more of what he's saying if he keeps up this stream of hilarious bullshit

image

Sounds like somebody's got his panties in a wod because he's not getting any of that juicy ad revenue. I could almost cry. almost.

While I agree that the advertising industry needs to innovate and find less intrusive ways to reach consumers through the internet, it's not entirely clear to me that this trend toward ad-block companies capitalizing on their position to act as ad curators will ultimately benefit the consumer.

Also, I love this bit from the source article:

Business Insider:
I reached out to Brendan Eich for comment on the IAB CEO?s take-no-prisoners speech, and a company spokesperson got back to me with a statement that doesn?t address it directly. ?Brave is the only solution that protects users from tracking by default across the Web, for better speed and privacy, while at the same time increasing ad-based revenue for publishers,? it says. ?By cutting out the tracking ?middlemen? in the system, Brave will reset the ad ecosystem for the good of the Web.?

I mean, wouldn't that just make Brave a different kind of middleman?

And, of course, you can't get the FCC involved to create and enforce regulations because "OMG government censorship" reaction (a sentiment I wholly understand the logic and motivation behind, certainly), backed by advertising interests (let's not pretend said sentiment is entirely noble for a lot of parties involved), would likely prevent them from being enacted, get them repealed, or make them toothless.

This interconnected digital global economy stuff is complicated, yo.

I think this guy could have begun a civil and insightful discussion on the effect of adblock on marketing firms, if he had approached the topic in a civil and insightful way. Personally I work in marketing, and though my department specializes in TV ads, and things like DVR, Netflix, and even people distracting themselves during commercial breaks with smartphones and tablets and such are of great concern to us. So I imagine adblock is a similar concern to people who specialize in web marketing.

As it stands he's done neither of these things, and so the response he's going to get (and quite frankly deserves) is not going to be civil or insightful.

How about you first look at the way ads are used before raging at the tools used to block them?

When a website's add cause my browser to CRASH...or random pop-ups with loud noise...screw that site.

I'm sorry I'm not helping them make money to run, but that's what they get for not filtering their stuff.

A grown man throwing comments like "pissant" around and cussing out the adblock people, who is an apparent CEO. I found this video to be appropriate.

I used to addblock everything (set it to always enabled), but I decided to stop doing it when I saw a Jimquisition episode about it. Sadly, I can't support everyone I want on patreon, so I endure mildly annoying ads. I do enable it on websites that are so stuffed with ads and popups that I can't even use it or sites that auto-play video clips. So, I only enable adblock when ads are too much

Look, supporting sites is great n' all but there's many sites that I go to, and love which are all good sites, sites that are 100% clean and nice...that I will not visit without it on my work machine.

Let's be frank, they are supposed to be advertising to make money but their third party has to do their job and filter out the garbage. I got a warning from a site 3 hours after unblocking them. I visit for concept art. I wanted to support them and I got a warning, even asked the owner and he was surprised but since the anti-virus blocked it I couldn't even tell him what one it was, but it was supposed to be filtered safely through the 3rd party handling it.

So it's this frustrating dance of wanting to support sites but also not wanting to lose work I've done because some ad was spiked with something. I'm not blaming the site, or the owner but whoever is supposed to be checking these ads.

if adverts on the net did not do certain things, many people would not need to use add blockers.
most machines i fix (read that as whipe and reinstall their windows) come in because they have been hit by drive by downloads.
if the companies that rented the space from these sites, actualy checked their adverts for viruses and malware...we wouldnt need the addblockers.
if the advertisers would stop with their agrivating and anoying advertisements, we wouldnt need the addblockers.

give us simple, unobtrusive adverts on the side or top...ones that are not riddled with malware or drive-by downloads and most users would not need to use an addblocker. its that simple realy

kekkres:
how are adds intrusive really? ive never bought this argument, i mean sure sound/video adds are shit but otherwise they are just images or gives occupieing the space they payed to take up. I honestly dont unserstand how this actualy inconveniences anyone.

Are you just new to the tinterwebs or are you a loyal employee/CEO of an advertisement firm? Because i fail to see how you have acquired this point of view at all. I am, amongst other things, currently blocked from reading certain news sites from my phone browser because the ads take up all the readable space while not giving me a working link to continue to whichever article i desire. Maybe that isn't so much "intrusive" as it is "denying access" or "smothering." Depending on your view. I do not use any of these (mentioned) adblock programns either. *looks smugly for escapist moderator validation and commendation* Now when do i get paid?

Edit: Why aren't we allowed to admit using any adblockers on this site? Surely that in itself is anti-freedom of speech? Is this another of those pro-business savvy US laws again?

Ever since I had a laptop become bricked after a virus piggy-backed in from an advert, I have a strict no-ads policy. I sometimes feel bad about content creators not getting paid for their services, but I try to support them in other ways, like merchandise or spreading the word about them.

I don't feel bad about denying this Rothenberg guy money though. He can use his ad-money to buy a step ladder to climb up my butt.

Lilani:
Personally I work in marketing, and though my department specializes in TV ads, and things like DVR, Netflix, and even people distracting themselves during commercial breaks with smartphones and tablets and such are of great concern to us.

I ask this because I am -genuinely- curious as heck. What could you possibly do about that? If people don't want to be bothered by Adds, to the point of outright ignoring them by accessing other addless content until the add is over, as concerning as that might be for the people who work on the adds, I don't think I remotely see a way around that.

If someone doesn't want to be affected by an add, well, ain't that just the breaks? Doesn't seem like there's much you can do to fix that; the net is proof enough that attempting to do anything more forceful ends up making a lot of people want to actively reject it...

Since you ask so nicely, yes, I do.

Since you actually can catch some virus/trojans/whatever through ads, I decide who I trust and who I don't trust.

Escapist is whitelisted, so don't worry. As is YouTube among others, as long as they don't show again ads for meds against vaginal fungus. Not kidding.

But once in a while, I click a link that leads me to a website of a company I absolutely despise. For example, sometimes, the link isn't labeled accordingly. I definitely should look into solutions to block these alltogether, but never came to.

In part, I agree with the message this guy is trying to communicate.

Oh shut up you jerkoff. Advertising is not 'freedom of speech'. The fact you put yourself in that category is frankly disrespectful to movements and ideas that have actually been about freedom of speech.

Damn, you'd think someone that high up in advertising would be better at presenting themselves.

Can we just stop using the phrase "freedom of speech" completely? (Maybe we can use "freedom of expression" or "freedom of ideas" or something like that instead) It seems like everyone thinks their freedoms have been infringed every single time they can't say exactly what they want to anybody they want to say it to. This is an especially stupid example of that confusion.

FillerDmon:

Lilani:
Personally I work in marketing, and though my department specializes in TV ads, and things like DVR, Netflix, and even people distracting themselves during commercial breaks with smartphones and tablets and such are of great concern to us.

I ask this because I am -genuinely- curious as heck. What could you possibly do about that? If people don't want to be bothered by Adds, to the point of outright ignoring them by accessing other addless content until the add is over, as concerning as that might be for the people who work on the adds, I don't think I remotely see a way around that.

If someone doesn't want to be affected by an add, well, ain't that just the breaks? Doesn't seem like there's much you can do to fix that; the net is proof enough that attempting to do anything more forceful ends up making a lot of people want to actively reject it...

To answer your first question, there's really nothing we can do about it other than adapt. Keep our eye on our customer base, keep track of what appeals to them and what doesn't, watch sales numbers in relation to our ad campaigns, test our ads against focus groups to see what appeals to them and why. And also begin to branch out to other forms of advertisement, which I will fully admit my company is very behind on. We have a minimal number of web ads, and our social media feels like it's being run by 40 year olds who are pretending they know how to run social media. Actually, that has more to do with the higher-ups trying to tell the social media team what to do rather than letting the social media team come up with and execute their campaigns...but that's another problem altogether.

Some marketing firms have tried to sue telecommunications companies that offer automatic ad-skipping on their DVR services, but if I recall correctly nothing came of it. And I doubt nothing ever will, with basic cable slowly moving out of relevance anyway. At this point it's better worth the marketing firms' money to look to the future than to fight for a dying audience, and it's better worth the telecommunication firms' money to keep making things more convenient for users and remain relevant for as long as possible.

To answer your second question about people not wanting to be affected by ads, that is something we keep in mind a lot when making our ads. The company I work for specializes mostly in sporting goods, so sometimes we are at odds as to whether we should make ads which have very specific people in mind (hunters, hikers, fisherman, etc.), or general ads which can appeal to a wider range (basic men's and women's clothes, kid's toys, etc). But typically the argument is settled by simply saying, "Look, there are people who are looking for sporting goods, and people who aren't looking for sporting goods." Our ads aren't meant to convince non-sporting people to buy sporting goods, it's to sell us as one of the best sporting-good retail chains out there. The best we can do is offer the greatest range of the products we specialize in to appeal to those within our market.

Now, we DO have events that take place in stores to try and get non-sporting people interested in trying things such as hunting, fishing, and hiking. But those are handled very differently from our ads which specialize in specific products. Our social media team has been trying to take over the bulk of promotions involving those events, with lukewarm success. Again, in that respect, what my particular company needs is a changing of the guard in our higher-ups.

MarsAtlas:
You have a right to speak, you do not have a right to be heard or listened to.

Holy shit, someone said it without me having to say it first. It blows my mind how easily entitled ideologues conflate "freedom of expression" with "freedom from being ignored, spoken over, criticized, or not taken seriously at all."

Ad-blockers provide a service to consumers who want something - the difference between ad-blockers and ads is that consumers actually have a choice as to whether they WANT that service rendered to them. The negative consequences that ad-blockers have on content providers is a very real and interesting problem to explore, and I'm eager to hear what content creators and providers such as YouTube channels and website admins have to say about it.

Listening to advertisement executives who's "provided content" and "services" are unsolicited, bothersome commercials with no substance or entertainment throw a hilariously transparent shitfit about ethics and scandalism, however, is the closest they'll ever come to being worthy of earning my attention rather than forcing it.

This is not an admission of guilt to using ad-blockers, by the way. Please don't B& me.

I want to buy some ad space on sites this guy visit and put in this image:

image

Using and not using adblockers is a personal choice and (in accordance with the forum guidelines) I'm not admitting to nor advocating using them.

However I will say (incoming warning) that using adblockers, script blockers, and 3rd party resource blockers greatly decreases a variety of security risks.

Unfortunately website owners are partly to blame. They take 3rd party content and foist it on their viewers without vetting it first. Then act like the BP CEO when something inevitably goes wrong, saying "I'm sorry, won't happen again" but not doing anything to actually prevent it from happening again.

The reality is I don't want to be "influenced". And my time and attention is worth more to me than the fraction of a cent a website owner is getting paid for my impression.

Things that piss me off that his council hasn't done anything to try and fix the standards on:

CSS "curtain" style adds not closing when you click off the active area (you are satan if you hide behind a tiny close button)
Autoplay video of the non-scrollover kind
ANYTHING that defaults to not muted
Obvious scams being green-lighted by ad networks

As a programmer who has done web design, the biggest sin has to be script fragmentation. If you bring up anything that sources all the scripts on a page (noscript is good for Firefox) some sites are in the triple digits of source sites. Aside from the obvious security risks, this pulls in a ton of connections that could potentially break functionality. Ideally you only want 5ish sources of scripts on your page, 2 of which being CDNs... not 100

The guy should just go watch North Korean propaganda 24/7. The creators surely want him to, so his refusal to oblige, by his definition, infringes on their freedom of speech.
I agree with the point, that adblockers and related software like Brave effectively acting as middlemen for ad providers is a valid concern, as this both invites a conflict of interest on the blockers' side and causes diminishing returns for ad providers, making their business less profitable and possibly spelling the end for many sites, that mainly rely on ad support. Now this could all be remedied by the ad industry trying to self-regulate and imposing some clear rules, that will make adblockers effectively unnecessary, such as mandatory virus scanning for all ads before they're published, limited or abolished ads that cover up content, no autoplay sound ads, perhaps limits on ad size allowed per site or the ability of the site's owner to qualify the site as a mobile page or low bandwidth friendly page, preventing it from displaying smartphone unfriendly or overlarge ads... Ads clearly related to illegal activity such as pyramid schemes should also be banned IMO, but in and of themselves they are mostly easily enough ignored. What will NOT solve those problems is a spoiled manchild throwing a tantrum.
In all honesty, I've never gotten around to using adblock both because of laziness and because I figure if the website's interesting enough to have me spending time on it, dealing with the ads is the least I could do. That being said, I've encountered several ads that made me wish I had an adblocker installed and when I read a backwards rant like that, it really makes me wonder if I wouldn't be better off running a blocker just to help put this particular twit out of business.

kekkres:
how are adds intrusive really? ive never bought this argument, i mean sure sound/video adds are shit but otherwise they are just images or gives occupieing the space they payed to take up. I honestly dont unserstand how this actualy inconveniences anyone.

The problem is that those passive ads are no longer the norm. There are several sites I used to frequent that I can no longer visit at all without a blocker, because the sheer number of bandwidth draining ads causes my browser to crash. Never mind the ads that hijack your browser and require you to shut the browser down in the task manager, lest you download malware.

you.... dont understand how advertising companies work do you, by cutting off adds are primarily hurting the site your on, as that less clicks for the add company to actually have to pay for. if the amount of 'registered' traffic gets too low the add company will just leave and the site will need to find another who will pay for low traffic, which generally pushes the standards down. And unethical? REALLY? there is nothing ethics related at all here, adds are unethical when they are deceptive, not when they are annoying, to claim that annoying adds are unethical is absurd.

The ethics comes in when those advertising companies don't have a system in place to ensure that what they're putting out there WON'T destroy the computers of the people who happen across them. As you said, they have no financial or legal reason to give a damn, and therefore it's wholly dependent upon their morality.
The fact is, there are plenty of people who'd willingly take off the blocker if they knew there wasn't going to be an issue. For example, I let Youtube advertise away, because nothing they plug is going to require a clean install after viewing. If those advertising companies don't bother to do better, I see more sites moving to the "crowd-sourcing Patreon/donation bar" model of doing business, and thereby obviating the need for them entirely. By the time it DOES start impacting their bottom line, I don't think there will be too many content creators who will be likely to give a damn.

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