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The Telecom Digest for Aug 20, 2015
Volume 34 : Issue 154 : "text" Format
Messages in this Issue:
Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web (Monty Solomon)

Behind the black portent of the new atomic age lies a hope which, seized upon with faith, can work out salvation ... Let us not deceive ourselves: we must elect world peace or world destruction.
Bernard Baruch

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Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2015 09:29:56 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <monty@roscom.com> To: telecomdigestsubmissions.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web Message-ID: <A4CA07B9-6D90-4BCC-B9CA-DED83CC0FC8D@roscom.com> The adoption of ad-blocking technology is rising steeply. Some see an existential threat to online content as we know it, but others see a new business niche. by Farhad Manjoo The great philosopher Homer Simpson once memorably described alcohol as "the cause of and solution to all of life's problems." Internet advertising is a bit like that - the funder of and terrible nuisance baked into everything you do online. Advertising sustains pretty much all the content you enjoy on the web, not least this very newspaper and its handsome, charming technology columnist; as I've argued before, many of the world's most useful technologies may never have come about without online advertising. But at the same time, ads and the vast, hidden, data-sucking machinery that they depend on to track and profile you are routinely the most terrible thing about the Internet. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/technology/personaltech/ad-blockers-and-the-nuisance-at-the-heart-of-the-modern-web.html ***** Moderator's Note ***** Can't-help-but-wonder department: Yes, advertising has always paid for the news we see in print, but old-world dead-tree marketers never had to hide the 600-pound Gorilla sitting in front of the green door that gives entry to the corporate treasury: the data gathering and number crunching that goes into making sure that someone who calls a real-estate broker in another state will soon find their browser screen cluttered with ads for local real estate agents, divorce attorneys, roofers, septic-system repairment, home-repair contractors, life-insurance salesmen, and retirement planners. Ad blocking, like spam prevention, is an arms race, but it is a race pitting the gunsmiths who tune sniper rifles against cannon foundries. After all, a spammer makes money on only one out of a hundred-thousand emails, but everyone retires sooner or later, and Madison Avenue has been drooling (for years) at the thought of being able to send a message to every real-estate agent within five miles of me when I visit zillow.com and look at a house in a far-away place. Yes, folks, the ad men want YOU. YOUR EYEBALLS, deliverd to THEIR advertisers, AFTER you've decided to pay for a new car, or a new home, or a new spouse. Impulse buyers account for lots of sales, but they can be reeled in with a cardboard cutout of a has-been sports hero at a supermarket checkout stand. The high-value, high-profit traffic must be targeted with laser-guided guilt trips filtered through up-to-the-minute lists of previous purchases. They don't care that much if you block their ads. They care a lot if you insist on retaining even a shred of old-fashioned privacy. Bill Horne Moderator

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