You log on to YouTube. You see in your subscriptions list that one of your favourite channels had uploaded a new video.You click the link,but before you can begin watching, an advert for something you probably have no interest in comes up and plays for 30 seconds. Once finished, you are taken straight to the video you came for.
Nowadays, viewers who go through this process is now probably in the minority, thanks to the software that is loved by viewers and hated by content creators,Adblock. Created by Michael Gundlach, Adblock is perhaps one of the most popular web browser extensions in the world, disabling adverts that play before or in the middle of an online video, random pop-ups that create their own browser windows when accessing certain websites,practically allowing the user to use the internet with nary an advert in sight.
Already incredibly popular with over 200m downloads, Adblock has decided to take things a step further, to fight evil with evil by launching an advertising campaign….against adverts. But is this a step too far?
Before we can answer that, another question must be asked: Is there anything wrong with Adblock? To this online content creators would supply you with a legion of answers. With the growth of the internet, many are turning to online production as a new way of earning money. From newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun to gamers on YouTube such as WoodysGamertag and KSIOlajidebt, continued success in this field can lead to creating online content becoming their sole method of earning a living. The biggest and easiest way that they do this is through allowing their content to include advertising from several brands and companies.
And for these type of people, Adblock is perhaps an unbearable leech on whatever profit made. In response to the Adblock campaign, Ryan Letourneau, known as ‘Northernlion’ on YouTube, tweeted point blank to his fans that “If you use Adblock you’re mostly cool with me but I wish you’d care more about the content creators you enjoy.”
Many critics of Adblock point out that the sole reason why the majority of the internet is free to use is because they make their money primarily from advertising.If this turned out to be ineffective, then the only real alternative is for websites to start charging users through subscription for content. Imagine if YouTube started charging viewers a certain price a month to watch videos, or Facebook decides you had to pay a fee to create a profile for yourself. Even Twitter, that would probably charge you by the tweet?
It is already being done on certain newspapers and magazines, but I get the feeling that neither websites or viewers want subscriptions to be introduced. Any mention of subscription rates is almost an instant turn-off for many users. I stopped using Whatsapp when they started talking about my free service expiring in so-so days.
But what other alternative do viewers have than to go through 30 seconds of unpleasant adverts for the content they came for? In fact,when balanced, does the idea of it really sound so daunting?
That is not to say that Adblock does not have its uses,or its supporters. On any site, all adverts are mired in suspicion. How many of them really cater to you, or show you something that is relevant to your life? Would a married man want to know where to find Asian women to date, for example? More importantly,there is the situation of random pop-ups, that carry viruses or malware. Is it really worth risking the infection of your computer to fill the pockets of people who may make good content, but to whom you will only be a number, or a faceless fan?
Finally, there is the same question that people will ask about piracy: Just how much Adblock really damages the profit made from web originals. Does it take away enough revenue to severely alter the lifestyle of the person who creates the content? Has it ruined the lives, or careers of certain content creators? The answer certainly differs with each person, but it is an important one nonetheless, since the common answer will really tell whether Adblock is really damaging to the internet as people make it out to be.
So what about this advertising campaign against adverts? To be honest, I find it to be quite naive. As annoying, and even jarring adverts are, they are an integral part of the entertainment industry, at least the private side anyway. It’s not just the internet that requires advertising, but also TV, Radio and written text as well. How many channels on Sky would continue to exist if the right to advertise was gone for good? Plus forcing people to spend 30 seconds looking at an unwanted advert telling you why spending 30 seconds looking at an unwanted advert is bad feels a little counterproductive.
As for the big question, is Adblock a blessing or a curse? My answer is, when the internet starts feeling the pain of it, they will flick it away like a mosquito. Currently the video hosting site Blip.tv is able to negate the effects of Adblock by forcing users to watch a 90 second video telling them why advertising is necessary instead of a 30 second advert. If Blip.tv can block ad-blocking software, so can YouTube, and the ability to do so might pass on to other sites.
If so, then please no more 40 seconds of some guy from the Sun saying ‘or here!’ over and over until it causes headaches with the pounding power of a hammer!