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Remorseless commercial bombardment spawns rise in mobile Adblocking


via Flickr © Joe The Goat Farmer (CC BY 2.0)

  • Mobile subscribers have had enough of endless advertising
  • Now adblocking on mobiles is spreading across the world
  • Advertisers and Internet companies claim it  "violates implicit contract" users have with them
  • New business model desperately needed

Back in the days when the British Conservative party did not permit anything as dangerously democratic as a secret ballot to choose a new leader after yet another of its periodic bloodlettings (such as the one currently in full spate in the run-up to the looming referendum on our continuing membership of the European Union) the new eminence would just sort of "emerge" from a spasm of back-stabbing, back-biting back-room dealing.

Much the same can be said of the equally dated and increasingly untenable business model on which big Internet companies rely for their revenues and profits. During the glory days of the web's gold rush and land grab the quickest and easiest way to bring in the cash was to charge advertisers to endlessly pump out their offers, wares and blandishments to the public who could do nothing about the remorseless bombardment other than to sit there and put up with it as a necessary evil to be endured in return for "free" access to the Internet.

Now though, the boot is on the other foot and subscribers the world over are happily putting it into the likes of Facebook, Google, Yahoo et al as users in their tens of millions take-up adblocking software.

A new report from PageFair, a newish start-up company that tracks the proliferation of adblocking as it spreads around the planet whilst providing what it calls "respectful and sustainable advertising" to "provide revenue beyond adblocking" via solutions that circumvent adblockers whilst (allegedly) solving "the speed, privacy and other issues that cause adblocking in the first place" claims that 20 per cent of smartphone users (that's 420 million people and rising) now use adblockers when browsing the web on a smart mobile device.

So popular are adblockers that the sector has increased by 90 per cent in just one year and the many, many, companies that rely on web-based advertising to stay in business are getting more and more worried and are complaining that adblocking "violates the implicit contract that users agree to" when viewing so-called 'free' online material that is actually paid for by advertising.

Yeah, right. "Implicit contracts' imply that both parties have agreed willingly to their terms and the public have done do such thing. They have had endless advertising rammed down their throats for years and years whether they wanted it or not and "implicit contracts' are unenforceable and not worth the BS they are written in.

Perhaps users wouldn't be so very keen to use adblockers if the advertisers and the ISPs hadn't been so rapaciously grasping in the first place and had tempered and targeted their advertising to the extent that the public would accept it as being a reasonable quid pro quo for access to content. But no, they wouldn't and they didn't and now newly empowered subscribers are getting their own back.

Asia in the adblocking vanguard while the west lags behind - for now

Interestingly, the PageFair report, which was written in association with Priori Data, a company headquartered in Berlin, Germany, that tracks smartphone apps, shows that adblockers are particularly prevalent in developing and emerging economies and markets where smartphones are often the only way that users can get Internet access.

Thus, the report shows, 36 per cent of mobile users in the Asia-Pac have installed adblockers on their devices while in India and Indonesia the figure is 65 per cent.

The CEO of Priori Data, Patrick Kane, says greater use of adblocking apps in emerging markets is being driven by user determination to minimise overly-expensive mobile data charges. Adblockers reduce data consumption and allow websites load more quickly and that makes for cheaper bills.

PageFair points out that in the US, although a mere 4.3 million subscribers (that's just two per cent of the market) currently apply adblocking technology its use is bound to increase and spread. A PlayFair executive commented, “It’s already used by hundreds of millions of people. You can’t put the cat back in the bag.”

However, that's not to say the advertiser's won't try. There are moves afoot to mount a test case to determine whether adblocking can be legally construed as being contrary to net neutrality regulations. You can bet they'll be throwing heaps of money at that.

Meanwhile, in the UK, starting tomorrow the mobile operator, Three, is to test adblocking across its network. It will allow subscribers to opt-in to stop ads appearing on their mobile s devices and smart phones. Other mobile carriers are less than happy with Three's iconoclastic stance.

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