On Ad blockers (and thus CRTO)

This is a week old but I just noticed it. It’s an excerpt from a much longer article on Tech Crunch.

One of the better features in this week’s newly released version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 9, is the ability for users to block ads on mobile websites, along with other content that can slow down browsing and eat away at mobile data plans. And while somewhat of a geekier feature to implement – users have to download apps then head into iOS’ “Settings” to enable their blocker of choice – it seems that new iOS 9 users are thrilled to have access to this added functionality. Only a day after the release of the updated software, ad blockers are topping the charts in the App Store.

Granted, none of the free ad-blocking utilities – like AdBlock Plus’s new ad-blocking mobile browser, for example, or the combination privacy-tracking app and ad blocker Ghostery – have been able to yet unseat any of the App Store’s top free apps like Snapchat, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or – sigh, Kylie Jenner’s new thing.

However, several of the ad-blocking apps are climbing the charts elsewhere on the App Store, including in the top Paid app lists and in the Utilities section…



I know you’re out, but I’m still in long on CRTO. I believe you were out mostly because of CRTO’s guidance for the year being low as they’re investing in themselves? R&D…etc

I’m in favour of Apple’s move. It looks like they’re cracking down on their app store and cleaning it up, and at the same time want to clean up the user experience of their users in their ecosystem. A big problem is the intrusive advertising, which impedes on the user experience. Clever ad-blocking apps, will cut out the chaff. The intrusive popups and videos that do nothing but annoy users.

The trick with ad-blocking aps is that they have to stop ads getting through, whilst letting all the intended content get through. This is all done by algorithms. So it’s all quite clever. You don’t want to block the actual content of the website. So the easiest thing to do is block the most intrusive ads, the pop-ups. This type of ad-blocking is virtually built into chrome’s browser (you still have to add the ap but upon installation it basically bugs you to install it).

All in all, it will improve user experience and hopefully cut out all the crappy ads. I think most people don’t mind the way google advertises its stuff - it all appears seamless, part of the page, relevant. In a way, this ensures quality advertising and hopefully benefits CRTO long-term.


The use of adblockers and DVRs has certainly worked to the advantage of consumers who aren’t interested in being bombarded by a continuing deluge of ads. I don’t see how TVs will work to thwart this, but I do seem to see more webpages where they block content and warn you it won’t be shown if an adblocker is used.

but I do seem to see more webpages where they block content and warn you it won’t be shown if an adblocker is used.

Consumers have a right to block ads but at the same time the publishers have the right to block their content from those consumers. It is just fair. There is no free lunch after all. I think Ad-Blockers should only block those aggressive and intrusive ads but not all ads.

Much of the internet content is funded by ad revenue. Without ads many of the publishers will eventually go to subscription model and not everyone can afford subscriptions. This will be bad news for the internet economy. And the internet will become the playround only for those relatively more affluent.

Hope my concern will not come true.



A couple days ago I installed an ad blocker on my mobile safari, and I have to say the improvement in load times is really quite amazing. Even the TMF boards load much quicker now on my iPhone (and given that I have premium subscriptions to TMF, I don’t feel guilty about blocking their ads on the boards).

I have no doubt that content producers will adapt. Blocking users is certainly one way, though a bit extreme. My guess is that the trend of pushing users to mobile apps will accelerate, as there is no ad blocking in those, and it comes with other advantages and opportunities for engagement.

Honestly, though, the solution seems quite simple: the online content industry needs to get together and sell some kind of bundled subscription where you pay X dollars a year ($50 or something), and in return you gain access to a whole host of premium content sites, rather than having to subscribe to them individually. Those sites then get paid a slice of each subscription based on the user’s habits.

The current a’la carte style is a nightmare for consumers, which in turn is a nightmare for content providers because few people are going to bother. All you have to do is give the new Apple News app a try, and see how quickly you begin running into interesting articles on premium sites that want you to pay (after maybe reading a few freebies). I’m fine with paying for what I use, but I’m not going to blindly subscribe to a gazillion sites. But I would pay for a single “Apple News” subscription that let me read premium articles on various sites: it seems like it’d be a win-win. Maybe that’s something they plan on introducing one day.

But back to the ad blockers, I now realize they’re a greater threat than I first surmised because everything is so much faster with the ads blocked. Even so, my guess is that’s a blip in the grand scheme of things and the content industry will ultimately adapt.



Neil, would you mind recomending a ad blocking app?

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I don’t see how TVs will work to thwart this,
I have to admit the jump forward button on my FIOS is my favorite feature. I have mine programmed for 30 seconds forward and 10 seconds back. Have gotten pretty good at pushing it quickly to add up the desired time. For instance, when my DVR of Jimmy Fallon starts I press it 4 times real quick and it jumps exactly to where he is welcoming the audience. Awesome. Poor advertisers.

So opened up my browser (chrome), and a message from my adblocker extension was waiting for me, saying that they are participating in the Acceptable Ads Program. This is on by default. You can turn it off and block all/most ads, but this is a step in the right direction!


More about Acceptable Ads

With Acceptable Ads, you are allowing some advertising that’s not considered annoying to be shown. By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but who choose to do it in a non-intrusive way.

The Acceptable Ads program is a plea to advertisers, their ad agencies, online ad networks and websites to stop making bad online advertising – ads that are obnoxious, annoying and obtrusive. Specifically:

- Acceptable Ads are not annoying.
- Acceptable Ads do not disrupt or distort the page content we’re trying to read.
- Acceptable Ads are transparent with us about being an ad.
- Acceptable Ads are effective without shouting at us.
- Acceptable Ads are appropriate to the site that we are on.