Small businesses see red in browsers’ ad blocking technology

25 Apr 2013


Digital advertising advocates in the US yesterday warned the US Congress that the actions of two internet browsers could be hurting small businesses by threatening their low-cost method of advertising.

Companies collect personal data, that allows ad companies to target consumers based on internet browsing histories.

Certain Microsoft and Mozilla browsers automatically blocked these ads unless a customer asked to receive them.

According to witnesses at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, blocking these ads starves small websites of their revenue, without alerting the user about the impact.

According to Lou Mastria, managing director of the Digital Advertising Alliance, it was a threat to the internet ecosystem.

Online advertising revenue hit a new high of $36.6 billion in 2012, due partly to customised ad experiences made possible by data tracking.

These advertisements often subsidised the expenses of small online businesses with little revenue. Online newspapers, blogs and weather sites that were not self-sustaining often relied on the collection of personal web-viewing data.

Meanwhile, the Digital Advertising Alliance, a non-profit organisation led by the nation's leading advertising and marketing trade associations, had developed a one-button option that allowed customers to stop the collection of tracking data.

However, according senator, Jay Rockefeller, Democrat, West Virginia, the action was not enough.

Meanwhile, ad-blocking app Adblock Plus had clocked up its 200 millionth download, which made it the most downloaded browser add-on in history.

Adblock Plus, a free ad-blocking tool plugs into any Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Android browser and allows users to choose the amount and type of ads they were willing to accept.

Ad publishers often misunderstood their motives, said Adblock Plus co-founder, Till Faida. He added, Adblock Plus did not judge what was a good ad and what was a bad one, it did not automatically block ads either. Rather, they were an open-source community that decided in a public forum the merits of each ad, and their software empowered individual users to control their browsing experience and the amount and type of ads they were willing to accept.

Adblock Plus has also published 'Acceptable Ads' guidelines, determined by users in a public forum, and which allowed ads to be whitelisted for Adblock Plus users.

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