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DoubleClick Warns Against Ad-Blocking Browsers 1399

An anonymous reader writes "The end of free Internet content will come when Web browsers start blocking online advertisements by default, a DoubleClick executive has warned. Bennie Smith, the online advertising network's privacy chief, said the popularity of tools like Adblock -- an extension to the Mozilla Firefox browser -- which makes blocking online ads simple was tied to 'a negative vibe against advertising in general'."
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DoubleClick Warns Against Ad-Blocking Browsers

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  • Re:Good call (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Le Marteau ( 206396 ) * on Thursday June 23, 2005 @11:32AM (#12889826) Journal
    I don't care. The ad industry has gotten so obnoxious and full of itself, I want to see it die, and I don't care what it takes with it.

    I know this is probably not in my own best interest, but, like I said, I don't care. When I get this pissed off about a thing, sometimes logic goes out the window, and what will happen to the 'free internet' is secondary to my desire to see slimeballs like that double-click guy flushed down the crapper.
  • Re:cry me a river (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trevdak ( 797540 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @11:39AM (#12889973) Homepage
    Not only that, but those who are willing to go out and get adblocking software most likely will not click an ad anyways/. It is like the spammers who put so much effort in making emails get through spam filters. People put those filters there because they don't intend to read any spam and therefore would rather not even see them. Yet spammers still exist out there, because there are morons dumb enough to buy from them. In the same way, ads will always be out there because people will always click them. And finally... I use firefox, but do my adblocking through my hosts file. I've made up a good list of a few hundred ad companies, and rarely see any more ads. The advantage of using a host file is that you can block out the request sent to their server, so you don't get cookies, you don't get their javascript loading, you don't get their iframe, and they can't hijack the page you are using.
  • by qbzzt ( 11136 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @11:40AM (#12889989)
    It's very easy to make a Web page and just display advertising. However, this makes for useless advertising that people will naturally want to block. Given the flexibility of general purpose computers, somebody will figure out a way to do it.

    If you want advertising that people won't block, you need to use one of two options:

    1. Make it unobtrusive. I really don't mind that above the comment posting form I'm currently using I see the icons for Google and Intel. It's part of the editorial content, but it could have been an ad - as long as it wasn't animated and annoying. Of course, I consciously tune this content out, but it probably helps reinforce the relevant brands.

    2. Integrate the advertising into the content. If it's part of the useful content I'm reading, then it won't be a problem for me - as long as it doesn't render the content useless. Of course, we come to the problem of editorial integrity here - but that's always a problem, because writers always have agendas.

    Of course, doing #2 is genuinely hard and would make DoubleClick's business a lot less profitable. Tough for them.
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @11:42AM (#12890027) Journal
    This is the free market at work.

    Actually, free-rider situations like this are precisely where market forces don't work efficiently. Everyone reading this site while blocking ads is able to do so only because of people like me who do view them (and subscribers). And I free-ride at the expense of people who are willing to view pop-ups.

    Bennie Smith is entirely correct -- if ad blocking becomes standard in popular browsers, that will be the end of free content on the web.

  • by awhelan ( 781773 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @11:46AM (#12890084) Homepage
    If given the choice, I would pick the current newspaper with ads and the lower price. That's because the content of the paper is definately worth having to look at the ads. In fact, newspaper ads are often informative, or have cupons I might actually use. However, the second the Boston Globe starts placing ads on the front page, over the content I'm trying to read that move around, blink, play a store's jingle and tell me that it knows my newspaper's IP address... you can bet I will stop reading it.

    - Andy (happy newspaper reader and adblock user)
  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @11:53AM (#12890183)
    The freerider problem only applies to public goods that are excludable and rival. The Internet is neither excludable nor rival, and therefore is not a public good. And since it is not a public good, the freerider problem does not apply to it.

    Blocking ads won't end free content on the Web. It will lead to innovation and new opportunities.
  • If I block ads, it's also true that if I didn't, I still wouldn't buy their lameass products. Me watching their brain-torturous manipulative garbage will never, ever convert to a sale.

    So, let me turn off adblock, so I can watch them still wither into nothingness. I'm no longer a free-rider, they just bought something with their advertising that wasn't ever going to pay off, my eyeballs.

    Some advice, I may one day buy a new car, Ford/Chevy/etc. I may not. Either way, it's totally uninfluenced by your billions of dollars a year in ad money. Keep that money, and buy something with it. More R&D, lower prices, hell, have the biggest hooker and booze party on planet earth, it matters not. This goes for people who sell laundry detergent, fast food, and video games.
  • Back to the roots! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hexed_2050 ( 841538 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:03PM (#12890314)
    I have been on the Internet way before the big boom in the mid 1990s.

    Back then, the information was still free, and the general newsgroup guppie was extremely more knowledgable and willing to help other people much more than what we have today.

    I'm not trying to say that the Internet was better in its younger days; but what I am saying is that even though the Internet was available and used by a select few when in constrast to the number of people that it access it on a daily basis today, we still had extremely good quality information at our disposal. There were no ads then (well, very very few,) and there doesn't need to be now.

    If companies only want to be on the Internet and update their content because it will increase their capital, well, I say goodbye to that. Companies need to start enbracing the Internet for what is it: an extremely powerful and quick way to deliver information to a massive amount of people, but don't try to get rich on PPC and ad impressions. If you really want to get rich, provide a product that people will want to buy instead constantly trying to sell ice to eskimos. Don't get me wrong, I understand advertising is the key to selling your product, but I think it's taken too far. I also understand the mantras of advertsing, one being that if there isn't a "want" for your product, create one; thus in other words, market your product where people aren't looking for your product. But enough is enough! If people want to find your product, they will search in special directories or on search engines. This is where you need to concentrate your ads, not on flashing banners while I'm trying to find information on why my son is sick.

    Who's with me on this?

  • Exactly right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:05PM (#12890339) Homepage
    I have no problem with Google ads. They don't take over your screen or blink annoyingly and don't turn a 2 second page load into a 30 second bandwidth hog.

    Doubleclick is their own worst enemy. It's not just the trashy ads, but their spyware cookies and other means of tracking internet users. Here's a clue for those bastards: We're not here for your convenience. We pay for our bandwidth and that doesn't mean you're entitled to it. If your customer sites want to find a different way to make money, have at it. Another site will find a less obtrusive way to get their advertising in front of consumers by offering the same content. That's the way the free market works. They win, you lose. And it couldn't happen to a more deserving company.

  • by shagymoe ( 261297 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:07PM (#12890368)
    That is funny because I am a few months away from implementing a KICK ASS site that will make thousands of open source users and programmers VERY happy and all for free.....which was to be supported by advertising. Just because some people have extra time to spend providing free content, it doesn't mean that everyone should have to give everything away. I understand the open source philosophy well and I am trying to contribute something which I think is ground breaking to the users for only the price of having to view some well place, non obtrusive, non pop-up ads.

    After reading a lot of the comments here (and I consider a large portion of the slashdot crowd my target market) I think I need to re-evaluate my plan. Perhaps I would be better off going with a subscription service (yeah, those work well) or just selling the site software for individuals and businesses to use and make it closed source...At least that way I could profit (yes, I know it is an evil word to many here) from my Y E A R S of effort on this project.

    For those bitching about having to view ANY ads, please elaborate on all of the free content you have contributed to the web. Also, even if you have contributed, have you noticed that our favorite little site here has advertising? So, maybe you can use a program to block the ad images and such, but all you are doing is killing the site you love so much just a little. If everyone did this to all sites, many quality sites would simply disappear.
  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) * on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:28PM (#12890691) Homepage Journal
    But at the same time, if you hadn't seen the logos on other cars, or seen at least a couple advertisements, would you even know that the Ford/Chevy exists? You may or not buy a car in the future. But you can't buy something you don't know exists. I know there is word of mouth, but that may not be enough to cover most cases.

    The trick is to not annoy people with the advertisements, but still get your name in people's heads.
  • userContent.css (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:33PM (#12890770)
    Some excerpts from my userContent.css ad filters:

    a[href*=""] img { display: none ! important }

    *[width="729"][height="90"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="728"][height="90"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="550"][height="150"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="468"][height="60"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="336"][height="90"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="336"][height="280"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="300"][height="250"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="220"][height="120"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="180"][height="150"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="160"][height="600"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="150"][height="60"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="125"][height="125"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="120"][height="600"] { display: none ! important }
    *[width="125"][height="300"] { display: none ! important }

    a img[src*="468x60"] { display: none ! important }

    img[onload] { display: none ! important; }

    iframe[src] { display: none ! important; }

    body script { display: none ! important; } // If only this one would work!

    div.contextclick a[name^="ra"] {
    text-decoration: none ! important;
    border-bottom: 0px ! important;
    color: inherit ! important;

    #DCol { display: none ! important }
    #CCol { display: none ! important }
    div.showcases { display: none ! important }
    div.showcase { display: none ! important }
    div.scSpon { display: none ! important }

    div[style="border: 2px solid rgb(51, 102, 153); padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 10px;"] { display: none ! important; }

    span.artText P.ArticleBody + P[align="right"] + table[width="180"][align="left"] {
    display: none ! important;

    object[codebase*=flash] { display: none ! important; }
    object[code-base*=flash] { display: none ! important; }
    embed[type*=flash] { display: none ! important; }

    And that's just what slashcode only slightly mangles.
  • by niiler ( 716140 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:39PM (#12890858) Journal
    If Rob blocked access because I wasn't viewing ads, I'd move on and find somewhere else to waste my time. Seems easy enough.

    As for those so called "news" sites that require you to register and serve up ads, I don't have much use for them. As advertisers now have full control of the content of these news sites, it's not really news but propaganda that they spin. Check out Bill Moyer's series The Public Mind [] for a well presented argument of this.

    Sites like will gain revenue from their sales. In fact, you'll note that Amazon does not use annoying popups (although they do try to track you). The rest of the site has advertisements, but as the prime purpose of the site is to sell you things, this is to be expected and is fine. If you're trying to present news and base your finances on your advertising, you've got a conflict of interest.

    Ultimately it comes down to whether you believe that the web is for the people who view web pages or for the advertisers. This point was presented in the "Linux Journal" (I think...It could have been "Linux User & Developer") a couple months back. A reader in the US asked why the magazine was so expensive compared to US magazines. The editors replied that their audience was the reader and not the advertiser. Thus the reader paid the full price of production instead of the advertiser. Perhaps that will happen on the web, but then, there are enough people out there offering information or services for free that I don't see this as a real issue.

    Just my 2 cents...

  • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:49PM (#12891020)
    I noticed you're not planning on buying a Kia or Deawoo, could you fill us in on why? How exactly did Ford and Chevy jump to the top of the pack? What could Suzuki do to be mentioned in the same phrase? If not advertising then what?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, 2005 @12:59PM (#12891177)
    Hmmm.... perhaps it is time for peer to peer web content hosting. wow, innovation is so difficult! Also, what do you think standardizes bandwidth cost? Energy? Material? Work forces? To be bluntly honest, i am baffled at the idea of bandwidth pricing as every lower tier isp and their users are paying head over heels for internet access, yet whom do the top tier isps/backbone providers pay? The current internet financial structure reminds me of a pyramid scam where the top tier almost always get the most income from the whole system and at the same time DO NOT reintroduce the wealth back into their systems. The system itself cannot be self sufficient as a whole. (In here, self sufficiency is reguarded as external introduced cash flow. Not the conventional meaning of not reliant on other people)
  • Are not the ads themselves killing the free internet?

    Bear with me here because I have limited knowledge of economics but it seems to be a simple capitalist economy game to me.

    An ISP, like any company, wants to maximize profits. Back in the day, before ads were everywhere, hosting costs were fairly cheap and anybody and their dog could throw up a website. Along comes ads to generate revenue for site operators. Now the sites operators are making profits! The ISPs therefore can now raise the hosting costs to grab a share of those profits. This kills off all the sites who don't display ads, but that's ok, because those that are left can now afford the higher ISP costs resulting in a net increase in profits for the ISPs.

    If the ad revenues disappear, it seems reasonable to expect that ISPs will have to lower their hosting costs or lose their customers. Lower hosting costs may then allow more do-it-yourselfers who don't want or need the ad revenues to be able to afford putting up free sites again.
  • by d34thm0nk3y ( 653414 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @01:12PM (#12891340)
    Some advice, I may one day buy a new car, Ford/Chevy/etc. I may not. Either way, it's totally uninfluenced by your billions of dollars a year in ad money.

    Yeah, keep telling yourself that buddy. The fact that you even know what "Ford" and "Chevy" mean is proof that the ads have indeed worked.
  • by InvalidError ( 771317 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @01:16PM (#12891396)
    Free-riding spares people's bandwidth... I never purchased anything from banner ads before adopting ad-blockers and am extremely unlikely to ever do. By free-riding, I am sparing the advertiser/host's bandwidth along with my own.

    When advertisers started using Flash animations with SOUND, I snapped and decided to go on a quest for absolute free-loading. The only ads I am willing to tolerate are google-style text-only ads and static images.

    Advertisers are going too far and I see freeloading as one way of protesting... and definitely a necessary thing for dial-ups.
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @01:31PM (#12891595) Journal
    ...and rival in that use costs the providers money to keep access available. Forget the jargon and use some common sense. If all Slashdot readers stop viewing ads and their ad revenue disappears, Rob will or will not keep offering free access?

    1) Content costs money to serve, even if provided basically for free (as with Slashdot, where the audience equals the authors, for the most part).

    2) Ads cost money to serve - In many (most?) cases, more than the actual content does (a single 27Kb ad vs 4k of text and 9k of "real" images, for example... And how often do you see just one ad on a page that uses them?).

    3) I will not ever, EVER, EVER buy something based on advertising. I buy products based on needing something, doing research to find the best widget, and then use a site like Pricewatch to find the best price on that widget (granted, you could call Pricewatch a form of advertising in itself, but I hope anyone reading this has the capacity to appreciate the difference). At no step does advertising enter that process, with one exception - I will deliberately not buy something or from a store who has annoyed me with overly obnoxious ads.

    So... Would you say Rob (or any site owner) would do better to let me block ads, thereby dropping the bandwidth per page roughly in half (in the case of Slashdot)...

    ... Or should they force me to double their bandwidth, with a literally less than zero chance of my clicking on their ads?

    As for the whole free-ride / piracy / stealing / depriving-whomever-of-whatever arguments... I really just do not care anymore. I can actually thank the **AA for performing exactly one service for me - They have helped me get rid of all sense of guilt regarding how I use or abuse any intangible "goods". If I can get to it, I consider it "mine" to do with as a please - Only both the threat and likelyhood of incarceration in the nation with the single largest per-capita prison population limits how I use such information. While the threat may always exist, the likelyhood (unless I do something glaringly stupid) simply doesn't exist.

    I'll still buy CDs, books, and what-have you from my favorite artists - I do so out of a desire to reward them for providing me pleasure, and as an incentive to make more. But the idea of an "obligation" to fork over something of mine, just to do a taste test of what amounts to pickled dog shit - Nope. Not even a little.
  • Bah! No big deal. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Thursday June 23, 2005 @01:42PM (#12891720) Journal
    The next step would be a browser (or a proxy) which fetches the ads, but does not display them.

    This way, there is no way the server could "sense" that the ads are blocked...

    An additionnal bonus would be the DDOS performed on advertising servers (such as Doublefuck's) when ***EVERYONE*** starts leeching their ads.

  • by sagenumen ( 62467 ) <mtrillo@gmail. c o m> on Thursday June 23, 2005 @01:45PM (#12891757)
    I agree with the parent. I have some basic rules that I follow when I put mmy AdBlock extension to use.

    First of all, I never block ads on sites that I visit frequently. However, the second I see some annoying flashing animated GIF, it's blocked. I'm ALL for targeted text ads...I think they will be the saving grace of internet advertising.

    Secondly, if the ad is some stupid "shoot the monkey" type, it gets blocked. MLM isn't my thing to support. To use /. as an example: Non-annoying ads for generally related products/services. And not 500 of them all over the page. Very well done. Add that to the option to pay for removal and you have a well-executed ad/subscription-supported site.
  • Re:a nitpic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flosofl ( 626809 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @02:00PM (#12891907) Homepage
    really, how does /. know I am blocking the ads? They can't, it's block on my machine.

    It depends.

    I used to think that Abblock worked by just redirecting anything filtered to the bit bucket. Then, I hit a site that gave me a redirect and told me to turn off Adblock. Now, they were actually serving up the ads locally so I don't know if the same detection can work with 3rd party ads. Maybe it has to do with Adblock blocking HTTP GET for filtered content or something... I don't know. But somehow they knew that their ads were not getting rendered (received?) by my browser.

    But the point is that, yes, sometimes they can tell if you are blocking.
  • by B'Trey ( 111263 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @02:19PM (#12892116)
    Are you going to sit there and try to invent a new form of advertising that isn't patented by Google, or are you just going to say "screw it" and charge for the use of your site?

    If charging for the use of your site were an option, lots more people would do it. Only a few special purpose sites are able to succesfully charge for access. For the rest of the sites, charging is equivalent to putting a padlock on the door. Admission fees don't work if no one is willing to pay to come in.

    You can call it short-sighted, you can call it whatever you want, but the fact is the owners of most web sites are not innovators and never claimed to be.

    Funny, all those non-innovators are trying to make money on the web, which was itself a brand new innovation little more than a decade ago. Every web site doesn't have to innovate. They simply have to follow along behind those that do.

  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @02:47PM (#12892492) Homepage
    MS still has commanding market share of the browser market. Their track record indicates they cater to everyone EXCEPT the people who use their products.

    • DRM for the entertainment industry? No problem! We practically invented it!
    • Spyware software installs via IE? Go right ahead!
    • Pop up windows with disabled context menus & contols? Sure!
    • Prevent users from doing "unauthorized" activities on their computer? Palladium!
    • Wanna send some spam? We'll keep the filtering dumbed down so you can get right through!
    • Spam is not fast enough for you? NET SEND!

    I'm not sure now much more of their "focus on the customer" I can tolerate, but rest assured that the web advertisers will be well taken care of.

  • Get a Clue. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wolfger ( 96957 ) <wolfger AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 23, 2005 @03:18PM (#12892816) Homepage
    Google AdSense is blockable... But I don't block it. Why? Because it's unobtrusive, and is actually targeted at my interests (or, at least, tries to be by being context sensitive). DoubleClick is the opposite. They have the most obtrusive and annoying ads around, and are generally placed on sites with little to no regard for the audience reading the page. What's killing their business is not adblocking software, but ads that piss off the people they are trying to market to, that make people seek out adblock software.
  • Re:a nitpic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DCstewieG ( 824956 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @03:28PM (#12892914)
    I remember some time ago Adrian's Rojak Pot ran an editorial about their site and ad-blocking. They say that 89% of their ads are blocked.

    Oh lucky you guys, here's the link: r1=19&var2=0 []
  • Keep it under wraps? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cyclonus ( 76002 ) * on Thursday June 23, 2005 @03:45PM (#12893098) Homepage
    Man, what is with people? The smart thing would have been to keep it under wraps and not mention it, since not *EVERYBODY* knows about AdBlock, but they're just giving more publicity to this wonderful tool.
  • by RogerWiclo ( 630886 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @05:51PM (#12894595)

    I agree with the above post. I also don't block Google ads and for the same reasons. If print ads are as non-obtrusive I don't have a problem with them. I am in charge the web campaign for a company, and I've decided that Googles ads and Yahoo's similar targeted ads are the only ones worth paying for.

    From the article:

    He said if a similar tool could be produced for newspapers, it would not be accepted by consumers.

    He is not comparing apples to apples. With a newspaper everything is the same color and stays in one place. I block the flashing "smash the monkey" advertisements, or the advertisements that lay over the content of the page (ie As long as an ad doesn't interrupt my reading I don't mind it being there, and I might even look at it. A good example of annoying ads in print is the Readers Digest. The first thing I do when it arrives in the mail is rip out all the mail-in-cards and throw them away because they interfere with my reading. As far as I'm concerned it's exactly the same thing as online ad-blocking.

    Unfortunately annoying your customers really does sell, or nobody would do it. But in my opinion it's a cheap trick used by simple minds. For example, people can use Tivo or their VCR to skip commercials. So, Coke and other companies pay to have their products right in the TV shows. They get their "impressions" and we are less annoyed.

    Hopefully ad-blocking will bring more innovative and less annoying ads to the web. Everybody will benefit I think.

  • by fupeg ( 653970 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @06:39PM (#12895195)
    Are you going to sit there and try to invent a new form of advertising that isn't patented by Google, or are you just going to say "screw it" and charge for the use of your site?
    You don't have to. You can use Google's ads. They have this thing called AdSense []. You see they have offered a service -- highly targeted, non-obtrusive ads -- that are not only effective already, but as people become more sophisticated in blocking undesired content, will become even more effective because they are more desirable to the consumer. Google wins, Doubleclick loses because Google does not bother the consumers who will click on ads, buy goods, etc.

    Now if all this means that Doubleclick folds and that some websites also fold because their business models depend on the Doubleclick style of advertising, so what? Seriously, who cares? There is no mandate that we must maintain the current level of free content on the web. There is no need to regulate this. Maybe it goes up, maybe it goes down. Search engines are also a force that can decrease the amount of total content, becuase they tend to identify the "better" content on certain subjects. Does that mean we should get rid of search engines so that all content providers have a more equal chance of getting visitors and thus an equal chance of getting ad revenue? Of course not.

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