The Dilemma of Adblocking

Adblockers are a contentious topic. From a consumer perspective, they tend to make for a better browsing experience, which should, in theory, be a better thing overall. However, they do put some websites in a tough spot, especially if they rely on intrusive advertising as their revenue stream.

I bring this up because there's been a lot of discussion on adblockers lately thanks to Apple's announcement that they will allow adblockers in iOS 9. Mobile advertising has been a pretty significant revenue source for websites, since there really hasn't been any meaningful way to block ads without significant performance hits or inconvenience. However, it seems that Apple has made it "trivial" to write high-performance adblockers for mobile, and that's got some websites pretty concerned for their financial future.

Case in point: iMore has been having a pretty serious discussion about their ad policy thanks to an article about their site at Murphy Apps. And I get where they're coming from, I really do. I have friends who work for sites that are supported by advertising as well, and they're in a tough spot. They need the money to keep the site up, but at the same time, they trade away a good user experience to do so.

There's also the privacy and security perspective to keep in mind. Huge sites like Huffington Post have been used to distribute malware through their ad networks, and that's not the first time a high profile site has been hit with that sort of situation. And from a privacy perspective, I just really don't like the idea that a single advertiser has a list of all the sites I view, products I look at, etc. Adblockers solve both of those problems, and make my browsing experience better. What's not to like?

So when iOS 9 comes out and a flurry of adblockers come with it, will I install one? Probably, to be honest. Now, will I whitelist some sites if possible? Maybe. It's a tough problem, but at the same time, who knows? Maybe it will force advertisers and sites to focus more on ads that add (heh) to the site experience, don't use slimy pop-up or auto-playing ads, and reduce the number of trackers. It's unlikely, but hey, a guy can dream, can't he?