AdBlock Plus Attempts to Rescue the Internet it’s Helping Destroy

by Matt Klassen on May 9, 2016

adblockers-468846628For many advertisers and website publishers AdBlock Plus has become the scourge of their existence, allowing users to block valuable advertising, which in turn chokes the main revenue stream for many in today’s online world. This has led to many blaming such ad blocking technologies for ushering in the destruction of the Internet as we know it, removing all financial incentive for web publishers to continue to produce content.

Now, however, AdBlock Plus has joined with micropayment service Flattr to help save the Internet, proposing a new online economic framework that could revolutionize Web monetization, at least that’s the dream. Called “Flattr Plus,” the system will allow users to set their own monthly budget that will pay their favourite web pages, bloggers, newspapers, artists or other content providers. Once users determine their budget, the Flattr Plus algorithm automatically portions out the proceeds to the content they engage with most.

This is, of course, not the first attempt to create micropayment solutions, and so it stands as the other obvious avenue for generating online revenues, having users pay for things they interact with online. But will it work? Unlikely, given that our entire digital existence has so far been predicated on the generally free consumption of content. It’s hard to envision people liking the Internet enough to start paying for content after enjoying it for free for so long.

Now don’t get me wrong, I applaud AdBlock Plus for recognizing that its service is disrupting our entire digital world, for while users think of it only as a convenient way of removing advertising obstacles, it is, in effect, removing the only viable revenue stream content creators have.

But I have to wonder if AdBlock Plus and other such ad blockers already know that such efforts to revolutionize online monetization with a payment model will end up fizzling out as well. Sure it stands as the only option other than advertising that people have thought of to generate online revenues, but I would guess users don’t want either choice. Keep the free Internet and get rid of the annoying advertisements, seems to be the cry of the masses, revenues for content creators be damned.

It should come as no surprise that pro-advertisement lobbyists see AdBlock Plus’ new payment system as nothing but smoke and mirrors as well; a PR effort designed to obscure the fact that such technology undercuts the foundation of our entire digital existence.

“It’s unfortunate to see yet another attempt to paint ad blocking as anything other than a dangerous technology that erodes the foundations of the free Internet,” commented Dave Grimaldi, EVP of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

“No matter what new angles ad blockers employ to appear more conciliatory to content creators, preventing advertising on websites means less funding to keep them alive,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

And that brings me full circle yet again to the problem at hand: Users want a free Internet, one where interacting with content comes without cost, and where that interaction is free from annoying and intrusive advertising. As AdBlock Plus spokesperson Ben Williams notes, “Tens of millions of users who have voted with their devices against the status quo with ads,” and while I doubt a payment option is the answer, the answer is to change the way advertising is delivered, how it’s structured, and what it offers the user.

Create advertising that engages, illuminates and adds value to one’s life and you’ll see an instant downturn in ad blocking technologies. Of course that’s harder than what advertisers are doing now, but I guarantee it stands as the only way forward, at least the only way that doesn’t include the tearing down the entire framework of online monetization and starting again.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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