The Business Insider recently published a post by Guardian.co.uk announcing that Apple had opened their apps store to Adblockers. Not being an Apple aficionado I didn’t give it a a second thought until I came across an article in The Register, which I read, along with the comments. The comments were, to say the least, very explicit (the occasional expletive deletive labouring a point) and overwhelmingly in favour of adblocking. Curious to know why one person mentioned in the comments should receive so much attention I went in search of, and duly found the article so colourfully referred to in “El Reg’s” article.
The Consumer is in Control!
Just to make sure the playing field was level I read the post by Ken Wheaton who wrote, and I quote, mis-quote, paraphrase and probably strip of all context, “…As it turns out, consumers are still in control” however the consumers are, “…now screwing up the internet and mobile advertising ecosystems”.
Now I respect this point of view, call it turf protection but it was defending a point of view and of course, it is more than probable that we, the consumers are <quote>screwing up the internet and mobile advertising ecosystems</quote>. The fact of the matter is, though, that’s how we humans are. Give us toy and we can’t help taking it to pieces. Give a man a car and it’s an accident waiting to happen, roll on driverless cars! Give us a PC and we’ll try to take the cover off to see what’s inside, show us a Host file and we’ll want to know how it works.
By possessing a smartphone users (2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions and still counting) find out soon enough that with a “Tweet” or a “Like” they can influence their environment. They can sway government action, expose and sanction corporate malpractice, comment on a politician’s gaffe and compel established brand names to apologize for a marketing blunder. They can also persuade software producers to modify operating systems and integrate specific user requirements, as they have no qualms about resorting to the Dark Net to fend off “Big brother”, so you can imagine how users may react when faced with artless advertising techniques.
NB. As people such as Malala Yousafzai found out, users can also show proof of great, global sympathy and support for a cause.
Darwin; adapt or disappear
When they invented Internet/World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners Lee, Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn never imagined that their inventions would one day allow users to send Megabit volumes of data, videos of cats, selfies, gifs, etc., at speeds unimaginable at the time. Nor could they have imagined that, by a simple click of an icon, consumers would be instrumental in compelling mega supermarkets, electronic outlets, High Street record and video stores to change their business model or shut up shop.
It’s all very Darwinian but over the years, products have had to evolve to meet new trends and tastes or disappear and if they have adapted it’s mainly because they knew how to innovate, it’s also thanks to or because of advertising. But the fact of the matter is web and internet advertising agencies have a problem. Their ecosystem is “screwed” and certain may very well disappear, replaced by newer solutions from the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft etc., who, given their track record, may already be defining the next generation advertising ecosystem for the Web – Advertising 2.0.
Who killed Flash?
Adblockers provide an immediate response to a perceived problem: unavoidable and ill-adapted web & internet advertising, ill-adapted meaning from a technical and content relevancy standpoint. We could waste time calculating percentages of how many internet users have installed an adblocker, how many have created their own homemade Host File to block content or how many just don’t give a “Tweet” or a “Like” about the Ads, as long as they can read the content. The fact is if Google killed Flash in Chrome and Apple are allowing Adblockers into their App store, it’s very probably because they’ve understood the market so, rather than complaining about some passing inconvenience and resulting lost revenue, they’re inventing solutions, and I don’t call suing the Adblockers a solution either.
Where do Elephants go to die?
I once read about the take-over of a well-known brand of English mustard by an Anglo-Dutch conglomerate. I mentioned this to a brother who advised me not give it a second thought, in few years nobody would remember its name anyway, BTW its name is Colman’s and I’m happy to say the brand hasn’t disappeared and there was a reason for that, someone made sure the brand made it into the 21st century. How many other mustards or Netscapes, for that matter, have disappeared from our collective memory, spared only perhaps from total extinction by a dig into the depths of Google’s archives.
PS. I’m still trying to make up my mind if the Adblockers and parasites the antagonists refer to are the tools or the people who use them, not a great way to promote a cause! The thing is, though, the tools will disappear, as soon as the industry has invented a replacement. Personally, as one of the 2.6 billion smartphone subscribers, I’d prefer to read more about how the industry is finding ways of innovating web advertising, so that we don’t need Adblockers, and read less about how the parasites and thieves should perhaps be sued!