Last week I came across one of the more extreme commentaries on advertising I've ever encountered. Appearing on MediaPost, it was a diatribe about ad-blocking aimed squarely at Randall Rothenberg, the head of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who is allegedly responsible for letting this scourge grow to its current malignant state. But what really got my attention was this passage, near the top:
Ad-blockers have given consumers a voice in the online ad world — and that voice is loud, it is clear and it is filled with venom.
Track our behavior without our consent and serve “targeted” ads that make us feel stalked. —Block you.
Serve us ads that cover up the inferior content we read mostly to kill time. —Block you.
Force auto-play video ads down our throats, so we have to race to find our mute button. —Block you.
Serve us flashy ads that slow down the page load. —Block you.
Allow anyone to buy ads through exchanges, so our computers get infected with malware. —Block you.
Serve us too many damn ads on a single page of content. —Block you.
In fact, the IAB has a detailed code of conduct for its members, though that obviously hasn't fixed the problem. But Randy—whom (full disclosure) I've known for years, and who gave me a lovely blurb for my most recent book—doesn't really need me to defend him. The point is that the sins listed here—online stalking, auto-play videos, malware infestations, rampant clutter, and so on—have become ubiquitous, and they're almost guaranteed to make consumers venomous. They certainly make me feel venomous. And as the author of this post was trying to point out, they make a terrific case for ad-blocking.