AdBlockers: The good, the bad and the ugly

AdBlockers can be a great tool for improving your overall online browsing experience by blocking (or perhaps more accurately, limiting) the number of advertisements you see online each day. Which brings up an interesting question – do you know (on average) how many advertisements you see a day online? If you guessed upwards of 4000, you would be correct and if you didn’t guess anywhere near that number, I’m sure you were as shocked as I was. Those numbers seemed crazy to us so LetAlone’s CTO installed an AdBlocker and measured the ads that were blocked over the span of 18 months. The number averaged out to approximately 1900 ads per day on his browser, which did not take into account ads seen on mobile devices and apps. 

Many organisations and publications that provide statistical information on this provide the range of 2000-10,000. The reason for the varying range is based on a number of factors, the most important of which is the amount of time each of us spend online per day being the main differentiator. While it is difficult to accurately provide the number of advertisements we each see online per day, it is an alarming number nonetheless. 
Those daily numbers equate to big dollars for the online advertising world, with Google and Facebook leading the charge for the biggest earners in this space. To put some context around that, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc recorded $65.1B in the 3rd quarter of 2021 and YouTube reported earnings of $7.2B in the same time period (up from $5B in 3rd quarter of 2020). All of this, in spite of Apple’s “efforts” to keep your data private (remember the “ad” iPhone is Privacy?) as well as a hefty number of AdBlockers available on the market today.

While AdBlockers have served a purpose in the past, their effectiveness seems to be waning as time goes on. Big tech has found ways to navigate around AdBlockers to continue this multi-billion dollar industry. In the instances where the AdBlockers have proved more than challenging to get around, companies have struck deals with the AdBlockers to whitelist their ads, effectively eliminating the sole purpose of the AdBlocker. While steps have been taken to limit such deals occurring, the horse has well and truly bolted. 

Industries with revenue earnings such as those noted above, are never going to fade quietly into the night. What many of us may not realise is that online advertising is the major contributing factor to the internet essentially being “free”. Irrespective of your internet provider, we can all bask in the freedom to “Google” whatever we want at no cost – “How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal?”; “How many home runs did David Ortiz hit for the Boston Red Sox?”; “Can I die from a hangover?” – if we had to pay for each search request we made, I’m guessing these questions might get a second thought.

Online advertising keeps the internet free (for now). We’ve raised similar points in some of our other blogs about the implications of Google turning off the use of 3rd party cookies and what implications that will likely have. If big tech companies are earning that much from advertising to us, based on our search and purchase history, despite all the products and services on the market today, isn’t it time we stopped looking for ways to “block” ads and start asking “where’s my slice of this money pie?”