Ars Technica, the popular technology site, recently wrote an article with the ominous title Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love. It has reignited (somewhat) the debate about the use of ad blocking software in web browsers. I have been blocking online ads for years now using specialized software. But I suspect almost all of us block ads to some degree by utilizing our browsers’ built in pop-up blockers.
I’m not ready to go back to annoying pop up windows, but I decided to embark on what I’m dubbing the “Ars Challenge,” and disabled my ad blocking software this morning.
The results…well. Around 2pm I went to the New York Times web site, and by 2:02pm I had re-installed a plugin called ClickToFlash in order to silence their huge distracting Adobe Flash advertising. But disabling things that move and make noise seems to me in line with the spirit of the challenge. I will tolerate ads that are respectful of me, that don’t unduly invade my space and attention or hijack my browsing experience.
So I soldered on another 2 hours, until I stumbled across this LA Times article.
Can you see it? I’ve highlighted it with a red box. Everything around it is ads and white space. Less than 20% of the screen is devoted to the actual article, and the font and spacing is such that in the entire first page on a relatively large computer screen I am able to view only about 40 words of actual article text without scrolling. Unbelievable.
And so, at 4:25pm, less than 5 hours after the challenge began, I’m giving up. Back to the ad blocker, and back to sanity.