But today, I found the reason to completely move over to Firefox on my Mac... Adblock Plus
Adblock Plus is a free plug-in for Firefox that lets you white out ads on websites. Yes, all of them. And it installs with a few clicks.
I am a big usability fan, and Adblock Plus certainly makes my surfing experience very pleasant, especially for sites and forums that overload their pages with too many blinking ads, pop-ups, pop-unders and even something called a CatFish banner (extremely annoying, especially on Safari because attempting to close it merely makes it open, which probably accounts for some of its clickthroughs). Adblock Plus cleans them all away.
But I am in a dilemma.
In the interest of full disclosure, I also have commercial sites that depend on advertising to survive, like mrbrownshow.com, seewhatshow.com and wtfshow.com.
So why am I even mentioning Adblock Plus if it has the potential to affect my livelihood? Because you cannot fight the tide of technology and what the user wants.
There are many responses to the rise of Adblock Plus (read some at nytimes.com, friendsintech.com, fireatomic.com, roughtype.com, infoworld.com, gadgetopia.com, adverlab.blogspot.com, clickz.com and gadgetopia.com), quite a number of which are critical of it, because site owners claim it robs them of advertising income that allow them to give their content away for free. Chris Soghoian of CNET.com even calls ad-blocking "theft of resources", and one guy started a campaign to block Firefox completely (he called it off in the end, but claims to have code that can block Firefox users with Adblock Plus installed).
I can totally empathise. But you know, if a user wants to block your ads, they will do so. You cannot fight that. You cannot force people to accept your ads so that your business model can survive.
Ilya Vedrashko of Hill Holliday thinks Adblock Plus may a good thing.
"The World Wide Web was not developed with advertising in mind. That some people eventually saw a reason to advertise on the web is fine; in fact it's great. But if it eventually becomes less feasible to make money that way, it is not the responsibility of society to guarantee people an income from web advertising.
If you come up with a scheme to make money and it doesn't work, that's your problem. You cannot then point at every reason it doesn't work and cry "Aha! That's theft!""
As the creator of AdBlock Plus argues, "There is only one reliable way to make sure your ads aren’t blocked — make sure the users don’t want to block them," and he goes on to say, "Don’t forget about the users. Use ads in a way that doesn’t degrade their experience."
I agree. Adblock Plus allows you to choose which sites you block ads on, and which sites you don't. I am hoping people who use the blocker like our free content enough to disable it for our commercial sites, and support our sponsors. On our part, we will try to ensure our commercial sites never serve up ads that annoy the fans.
The public has an annoyance threshold. Exceed it, and people will work around or go without what annoys them. Online advertising has exceeded that threshold. Enough so that somebody out there has devoted weeks or months of their spare time to work around it. The unwritten contract between publisher and consumer is unwritten for a reason, because it's unenforceable."
Meanwhile, I have downloaded the iSafari theme for my Mac's Firefox and I am happily browsing again. Oh, did I also mention Adblock Plus disables annoying Snap.com previews? Sweet.
Will Adblock Plus change the internet business model? Will sites go under because of it? Interesting times.