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

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While I can see where the ad guy is coming from: that industry brought it upon themselves with both the obnoxiousness and lack of curation that has made any ad a loud, annoying security risk. They made that bed, time to sleep in it.

I have an 8-core processor and my entire system ground to a halt over two webpages: between the fifty ads a page and my malware protection going off about half of them I'm surprised my system didn't just hold up a stop sign. It just makes me mad to see these people try to avoid acknowledging that they poisoned the well by using free speech as a shield.

The ex-mozilla guy seems kind of extreme in his response, but I can only imagine how much extra work he saw being dedicated to patching firefox because of ad-related security vulnerabilities. And I wouldn't be surprised if the ABP were invited to that conference if only so they could be barred at the door by being disinvited: I can just see that ad guy standing there going 'see if you like getting blocked.'

You know what I love the most? Crappy "ads" blocking my browser and not letting me use the bloody thing or messing with my laptop. Click on one link and 3 more comes in it's place. There are ways around it but adverting companies need to calm it down.

Also, to the upset and hurt CEO, cry me a river, go suck on a moldy lemon, take your "freedom of speech/expression" excuse, turn that into an unstoppable, or better those ads that take over half the screen, and broadcast how much of a whiny little cumbucket man bitch you are with those "fight words". Immoral? Unethical? You are rich enough to buy both a thesaurus and a dictionary. USE IT!!

Aaaaw. The poor ad-exec is feeling hard done by. My heart bleeds for him, it really does.

I mean, really? Freedom of speech? Excuse me while I spend the next five minutes laughing mockingly at this insignificant arsewipe and the ad-covered horse he rode in on. Fuck him and his entire ethically bankrupt industry.

"It's on the Internet so I should get it for free" is a real problem for people who make creative content. But the advertisers have to recognize that they shoulder a huge part of the blame for the current state of things. The number of ads I see that hinder or prevent the loading of what I actually came to view, attempt to run scripts that cause browser crashes, contain actual malware (!) or simply demand I watch a minute-long commercial to view forty-five seconds of video...

Oh, and for extra-special bonus points, let's have a hand for whoever came up with ads that don't even need to be clicked on, but hijack your browser when you simply move a mouse cursor over them. Let's curl that hand into a fist and apply it facially.

If those jolly jackanapeses who have spent the last decade trying to artificially bolster ad visibility statistics had been willing to self-regulate and draw a hard line with regard to keeping the sponsored content accessible and limiting what they would attempt to run on hardware over which they had no ownership rights, there's a good chance they wouldn't be in such a stir now. Instead, they turned it into an arms race, with entirely predictable results, and brought about a state where many people view all Internet ads as a plague to be eliminated by any means necessary.

I pity the creatives, and it has to be recognized that the antipathy towards advertising also plays a role in the skepticism and allegations of corruption facing many creators who write reviews and entertainment media coverage stories face today- "stealth" advertising being an all but inevitable result of that same arms race.

But as far as the advertisers themselves go? Take a look in the mirror, guys. J'accuse.

The ad-industry is an absolute cesspit and has no body but itself to blame, theres the straight forward stuff like full page ads on mobile, auto-playing media the creepy level of tracking, but all thats a side show compared to the real damage they cause by having no real intrest in security - anything from ad-server should be treated with the same level of suspicion as a random file arriving in your inbox or finding a usb stick in your office's carpark.

Instead of talking about the dire need the industry as whole needs to improve the security and stop casuing harm to the end-user of their customers, this idiot just wants to play the victim, have big a tantrum and call people names.

The web advertising industry is directly responsible for web ad blockers. Over the years, they have found ways to make ads more and more intrusive. Not merely annoying, but actively interfering with usage of a site. Auto-playing videos (horrible on mobile for users with limited data), ads with sound that plays on sites with other sound (Newgrounds is guilty here), popup windows, ads that expand to cover the screen, ads with scripts that break sites... All in the name of making them harder to ignore.

There's been this attitude of arrogance behind it all, as though users are so desperate for their precious content that they will put up with anything. But that turned out not to be true. Some users just abandoned sites that were too obnoxious with their advertising. Countless sites drove users away in the early-mid 2000s this way, and aren't around anymore as a result. But other users didn't just leave. They fought back.

It all started with popup blockers, the precursor to modern ad-blocking software. It's worth noting that this didn't block all advertising, or even most of it. Not by a long shot. It only blocked the ads that were most problematic at the time: popups. And it worked. Nearly every major browser has popup blocking built-in these days, and advertisers have pretty much abandoned them.

Unfortunately, big advertising didn't learn from this. They didn't ask themselves why people wanted to block popups, or make any effort to develop ads that users wouldn't try to block (except Google, who had a really big text-ad initiative; bless 'em). Instead, they continued to do exactly what they'd done before, exactly what had already backfired on them. They made bigger, more obnoxious ads.

So, advertising industry, here's my challenge to you: Don't make horrible ads that people will feel compelled to block, and people won't block them. It's basic cause and effect. Funny how that works.

P.S. Thanks

If an company has freedom of expression to put ads in my face, I have freedom of expression to not look at them and even say I don't like and therefore do not want to see it. It's actually a two way street.

I use ad block, but I'm selective. I block ads on sites that have large banners that cover a third of the page or one's that automatically play sound, or ones that automatically expand when I mouse over them. If your site has a few ads on the side that don't diminish my experience on your site, or a commercial before a video, then I don't block ads.

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.

Great use of freedom of expression there!!!
Just like countless samey sexualized ads that flash like they're trying to give me a seizure whilst flogging malware or other crap I'll never want. Internet ads are NOT Superbowl halftime quality, to make the biggest understatement of the 21st century. But at least we're tracked against our will and often illegaly to "improve" them, so there's that!

I can kinda see where he's coming from, but advertisements can do way more harm than good, and they can certainly get out of hand. It may, or may not be on him to any degree that these ads have become unethical, but the fact that they have been corrupted means the freedom of ads stops when people believe it will cause harm to their property.

Have a more appropriate business model for rolling out ads, then maybe people won't be so upset you are trying to stop them in their stride through their videos to ask me if I want something completely unrelated to what I'm viewing.

Here's what I said last time this was discussed:

Acceptable:
-Banner ads on the top, sides and bottom
-Recommending something within the content (sponsored videos/articles (as long as it is clearly stated))

Unacceptable
-Any kind of tracking or targeted ad
-Any sound
-Ads in the way of what I want to look at
-Ads playing before a video
-Ads that link to other sites

My list has not changed.

PatrickJS:

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

Alright then.

I use several ad-blockers. The internet is unbearable without them. I do white list certain sites that I want to support, but I will not allow those sites, Escapist included, to use any kind of tracker. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any ads that don't try to track users anymore, so all ads are effectively blocked even on sites I have white listed.

My message is this. If you want me to support you by consuming ads, it is up to you to make sure they are non intrusive and do not track me.

Huh. Guess he likes having his computer being infected with malware that hooks into some of the ads on websites.
Nowadays it is just too unsafe not to use them.

Yeah, looks like someone is using the Donald Trump school of rhetoric.

I'll never block this site, sites helmed by content creators I respect and want to encourage, and I'll especially never block volunteer organizations along the lines of modding sites. Everywhere else, though?

If I'm looking for local news, I want local news. Not ads. If I want to follow a family member's Facebook feed, I want to see only the content that's theirs. I especially have no time to spare for scam ads or viral bullshit portals trying to sell me on mundane stories I "won't believe" if I deign to click on their darn links. Your blaring background video about some Ponzi scheme you'd like to sell me on? Don't need it either. Considering, when someone tells me I'm denying their "freedom of speech" by not giving a crap about their dreck, I have to scoff and shake my head.

I'm denying your freedom of speech? Well, you're infringing on my personal space. Pot, kettle, black.

Sorry, the freedom of speech defense is for when people are repressing the message itself, not the methodology. Face it, to a point, we like advertising. We come to sites like this for it. Show me the commercial for the new Marvel movie. Tell me what games are coming out and make them look cool. Hey, A&W has a new burger. A sale from GOG.com. the new humble bundle. We want to be marketed to.

Sadly, these ad execs have gone well past the point of common sense. They'd whistle a brand jingle in our ear 24/7 given a chance, then get surprised we try and force them to stop. It's honestly amazed me how much it probably has hurt their own goal in the long run. Who hasn't avoided clicking a banner ad for what was probably a legitimate store because it might not be? Hell, that's probably why they are so intrusive. Who actually clicks on the obvious phishing scams and follows through anymore? Probably not enough to pay the bills of all these sites, but mined data on demographics can be sold and marketed, not to mention any boost from those needing to pay to get malware and ransomware removed.

Look, we're a soft audience. Make your ads good, varied, abut good products, and keep in mind the technical limits of most computers so that whatever you do doesn't kill the machine, and we'll watch your ads almost willingly. Data mining, malware, obvious scams, those should be obvious issues you need to clean up to even be reputable, then we can talk about auto playing video at max volume, ads resizing just as you try and click another link, and how often I can see a WoW ad before I'm sick of it. And to the sites using such advertising, I get you need to pay the bills, but ask where the money comes from sometime and if you want to make it from a company advertising "make $5,345 per month at home" on your site, or trying to get people to update their browser while really installing a virus. Yes Escapist. Those have happened to me here.

To be fair, certain ads - usually auto-playing ones - have a tendency to completely screw with a site. Take the Health Theater ads currently running on this site. Thanks to them and their crappy scripting, every time I've come here over the past couple weeks the site has been laggy as all get-out and often-times just straight-up crashes.

......not to mention that it's an ad that actually gets interrupted so that another ad can play...before resuming the original ad. That's some Adception shit right there!

But I'm a good little Escapist. I don't pay for a premium membership, and as such I don't use an ad blocker. I like this site and its content so I want to support it...I just can't really afford a subscription, so allowing ads to devour the page is the next best thing.

...even though I do fucking hate them. :P

I have one thing to say about internet ads:

_)_)===========D~~~~~~Fuck Off~~~~~~

Fappy:

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".

More like "enhancing freedom to NOT GET VIRUSES from ads"! Seriously, I was on regular gaming sites (Screwattack, GameFAQS, etc) and I was constantly getting warnings from my anti-virus software of viruses and malware trying to jack my computer.

Install Ad block? GONE. No Viruses anymore. My parents complain about malware and viruses from legit sites? ADBLOCK AWAY, and the virus warnings disappear and they stop getting tons of malware.

...That said, I whitelist a lot of stuff if I know it's safe. Because good content creators are worth watching ads for, so they can get paid for their work.

Covarr:
The web advertising industry is directly responsible for web ad blockers. Over the years, they have found ways to make ads more and more intrusive. Not merely annoying, but actively interfering with usage of a site. Auto-playing videos (horrible on mobile for users with limited data), ads with sound that plays on sites with other sound (Newgrounds is guilty here), popup windows, ads that expand to cover the screen, ads with scripts that break sites... All in the name of making them harder to ignore.

To me all the is small potatoes compared the most egregious case, Ads that can sneak in malware/virus into your computer.

To which I have been the victim of one time. And I got one on a website I thought safe from this, case in point Destructoid and that was by the mere PRESENCE of the background ads. The moment I entered Destructoid that day Google Chrome showed me a Malware Alert Notice I a left the website, but I checked my Virus Scanner and it detected 1 and it came from Destructoid.

So being forced to have obstructive, performance draining and sometimes malicious content shoved into my face is freedom of speech now? News to me. I would have thought that having to ability to whitelist sites and content creators I actually like and respect is as close to the pinnacle of freedom when it comes to ads, but that could just be me being a big slack-jawed fuckwit. Yeah it's probably just that.

Oh, are we actually allowed to have a discussion about Ad blocks this time? Or is this going to be like last time where supposedly there was permission to do so only to have the mods go ban happy?

No, I'm not saying anything about this anymore because quite frankly, I don't trust the latter to happen again.

Well, technically we don't have "freedom of speech" in my country. So now what, advertising asshole?

To be perfectly fair, I do empathize with the need for ads. If a site isn't directly charging you for using it, those ads are usually an integral part of getting the funds to keep that site up and running. I get that and I usually don't want to negatively impact the site's ad revenue for that explicit reason. On the other hand, we aren't living in the days of passive ads any more. We're living in the age of the autoplaying and autorefreshing video ads, and an age where at the very least a significant minority of ads are packed with some form of malware or another. I follow a link on Google News and my antivirus software pings me 2-5 times that it blocked a threat by the time the damn page finishes loading, and it seems like one of the ads redirects me to a new page[1] maybe once every dozen or so sites on a good day...and then I get the messages (or very similar ones) again every two minutes or so that I'm on the page because guess what? The ads either refreshed or tried to execute the damn files again. And let me reemphasize: That's from browsing news sites, not high risk sites. Yesterday. And I actually have gotten malware[2] through ads, so while I try not to use adblock myself, I do tell my less tech savvy aunt that she should view it is absolutely mandatory for her own browsing purposes. That's not a matter of convenience, that's a matter of making sure that malicious software piggybacking on ads doesn't destroy her computer.

And then of course there are forums...autoplaying/autorefreshing video ads have become ubiquitous enough and detrimental enough to my browser performance that I've had to take to drafting messages in notepad because the reply function won't register my key strokes and my posts end up readig sometiglik tis unless I spend about five times the time and effort going back and filling in the missing keystrokes again. Occasionally, they'll even stop the dang page from fully loading. And then it takes the damn browser a good 5-10 seconds to process that I hit the 'close' button. I don't even want to think about what that means the ads are collectively doing to my bandwidth. Nevermind if I'm actually browsing the net on my phone where it seems to be becoming more and more common for ads to pull me off the webpage I'm reading and send me to a blank webpage whose only function is to close my browser and open the App store page for Candy Crush or some other Application...and when I navigate back to the page it does that again.

My heart goes out to the site owners, content creators, and people in marketing, but we're rapidly approaching the point where ads might well become indistinguishable from malware in how they affect your computer. And I can't in good conscience condemn the people who are proactive in the defense against such things just because I indulge in riskier behavior (at the cost of enormous frustration and regular malware scans). I might be so inclined if I knew that internet advertisers as a rule had their houses in order with proper safeguards, but that is not currently the case.

[1] usually one pretending to be from a legitimate source like Mircosoft or Adobe
[2] including a nasty piece of work named Vundo some years ago

I don't like it when the Escapists posts a news article about Ad Block because it's really hard to discuss the topic without inviting a ban.
Also if this guy can't speak in a professional manner I'm not inclined to want to listen to him or take him seriously. Additionally I HATE advertising on the internet. It slows down websites and gets in the way of the content I'm trying to enjoy. Finally it seems we have another person who doesn't know what freedom of speech/expression means.

Some one doesn't know what an actual threat to freedom of speech/Expression is. He's just pissed cause every one is tired of the adds slowing shit down and being used to exploit security loop holes.

When those advertising pissants clean up their industry so that we don't have to worry about even the New York Times and Forbes ending up serving out malware via third-party ads, then they can come insult people for using ad-blockers.

I freely recognize that advertisements are necessary to keep Internet content free (or at least low-cost), but advertisers started this war of escalation.

I use AdBlock, because advertising is just flat out ridiculous on some sites, both in volume and of type. Plus, they're distracting as fuck. I KNOW they're supposed to be distracting, but that's not really how I want to be advertised to. I understand that ads are the life-blood of any media, but Christ, in magazines they were pretty easy to ignore. On the internet, sometimes they'll wait a moment and then dance across your fucking screen. Then there are mobile sites like YouTube, which conveniently wait a moment to load up an ad video at the top of your search results, which you end up clicking on by mistake because it suddenly pops in and replaces the video you were intending to view. They'll take that accidental click and call it a win. Some ads play sound on a loop that can't be turned off. It's just absolutely obnoxious.

That's really the only issue I have with ads. I turn my AdBlock off when I visit sites I frequent and YouTubers I enjoy, as well as Pandora and such. And even with my AdBlock on the majority of the time, I feel like I'm being advertised to almost every hour of every goddamned day. It's just tiring.

Lilani:
*snip*

I sniped this only because I don't have anything to say on my own, so much as just to note that this made me think. And that I thank you for your time in bothering to answer my questions so thoroughly.

Sheo_Dagana:
I use AdBlock

*whisper*Um... I don't think you're allowed to admit to that sort of thing on this website. Just a little warning.*whisper*

I recently downloaded adblock on my phone. Do you know why? Because I would try to read the news on a site and when I would touch an ad it would pop up. I wasn't clicking on it. I wasn't trying to find out more about the ad. I was just trying to scroll down and see the stories lower on the page. I couldn't even avoid the ads and touch around them as they often took up half the screen or more and touching them anywhere would cause them to pop up or load a new page or whatever. I just wanted to read the news on my lunch break and these ads were ruining it.

So, I downloaded adblock and now I don't have issues with annoying ads popping up while I read the news. Maybe if ads weren't being insanely obnoxious and toxic to my experience, I wouldn't be using adblock.

You know, if companies weren't complete dickheads, I wouldn't use ad-blocker at all. I even try turning it off for websites I like, so that they can make some income. I turned it off for youtube, for instance. Then I started noticing adds on youtube that lasted over five minutes. One was twenty minutes. And I couldn't skip. I came to find out that youtube forced you to watch massive adds if you had ad-blocker. Even if you turned it off. They were just being passive aggressive. So I promptly turned the ad-blocker back on, and have enjoyed an easy browsing experience ever since.

LordLundar:
Oh, are we actually allowed to have a discussion about Ad blocks this time? Or is this going to be like last time where supposedly there was permission to do so only to have the mods go ban happy?

No, I'm not saying anything about this anymore because quite frankly, I don't trust the latter to happen again.

There's already been a mod posting in this thread, so I think we're safe? (Then again, that happened last time too...)

Don't use Adblock. Never have, never will. If a site has annoying Ads on it and I don't want to support their business I simply stop going to that site.

If I like a site and want them to put out more material then I visit the site and support them.

If I like a site and dislike their use of ads I tell them, and if they continue to be an impediment to my enjoyment then I stop supporting their site with views.

I have to agree with the general sentiment: adblock is good as ads become less of a thing you can choose to ignore and more of a threat to your computer/phone's wellbeing.

I am not a particularly tech-savy guy and I'm pretty sure I lost the Windows 7 back up disk for my laptop in 2013 so if i have to wipe and re-install Windows, I'm out some money. I'm jobless atm (interview wednesday, fingers crossed) so if my laptop goes down I'm stuck either trekking to the library or borrowing my grandma's rig (and doing electronic chores for hours).

So I don't take the risk.

MODS
I have to ask, what are the rules when it comes to adblock and the forums. My current understanding is that we are allowed to say it is a thing. I think we are also allowed to say we use it, just not that we use it on this site. I'm also pretty sure we are not allowed to complain about specific ads on this site either.

Please tell us if we're off base, most of us like not being banned

Speaking theoretically, I would use an ad-block after the third time an ad, on a reputable site no less, gave me malware.

Theoretically speaking, of course.

I'm not going to advocate ad blockers. I agree with a lot of what the execs have to say.

However, when you compare their use to a violation of free speech, you deserve to be ridiculed.

Bertinan:
Speaking theoretically, I would use an ad-block after the third time an ad, on a reputable site no less, gave me malware.

Theoretically speaking, of course.

THIRD time? I would use it IMMEDIATELY after the FIRST time a site tried to give me malware. In fact, I just use it to begin with as the default starting point, then when a site (such as the Escapist) shows me that it is worth supporting I whitelist them in my blocker.

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