Adblock War Series

no-ads-trackingThis is a list of pieces I’ve written on what has come to be known as the “adblock wars.” That term applies most to those starting with #24 (written August of ’15). But the whole series works as a coherent whole.

  1. Why online advertising sucks, and is a bubble (31 October 2008)
  2. After the advertising bubble bursts (23 March 2009)
  3. The Data Bubble (31 July 2010)
  4. The Data Bubble II (30 October 2010)
  5. A sense of bewronging (2 April 2011)
  6. For personal data, use value beats sale value (13 February 2012)
  7. Stop making cows. Quit being calves. (21 February 2012)
  8. An olive branch to advertising (12 September 2012, on the ProjectVRM blog)
  9. What could/should advertising look like in 2020, and what do we need to do now for this future? (Wharton’s Future of Advertising project, 13 November 2012)
  10. Bringing manners to marketing (12 January 2013 in Customer Commons)
  11. Thoughts on Privacy (31 August 2013)
  12. What the ad biz needs is to exorcize direct marketing (6 October 2013)
  13. Beyond the advertising bubble (12 October 2013 in Customer Commons)
  14. We are not fish and advertising is not food (23 January 2014 in Customer Commons)
  15. Earth to Mozilla: Come back home (12 April 2014)
  16. Why to avoid advertising as a business model (25 June 2014, re-running Open Letter to Meg Whitman, which ran on 15 October 2000 in my old blog)
  17. Time for digital emancipation (27 July 2014)
  18. Privacy is personal (2 July 2014 in Linux Journal)
  19. On marketing’s terminal addiction to data fracking and bad guesswork (10 January 2015)
  20. Thoughts on tracking based advertising (18 February 2015)
  21. Because freedom matters (26 March 2015)
  22. On taking personalized ads personally (27 March 2015)
  23. Captivity rules (29 March 2015)
  24. Separating advertising’s wheat and chaff (12 August 2015, and on 2 July 2016 in an updated version in Medium)
  25. Apple’s content blocking is chemo for the cancer of adtech (26 August 2015)
  26. Will content blocking push Apple into advertising’s wheat business? (29 August 2015)
  27. If marketing listened to markets, they’d hear what ad blocking is telling them (8 September 2015)
  28. Debugging adtext assumptions (18 September 2015)
  29. How adtech, not ad blocking, breaks the social contract (23 September 2015)
  30. A way to peace in the adblock war (21 September 2015, on the ProjectVRM blog)
  31. Beyond ad blocking — the biggest boycott in human history (28 Septemper 2015)
  32. Dealing with Boundary Issues (1 October 2015 in Linux Journal)
  33. Helping publishers and advertisers move past the ad blockade (11 October on the ProjectVRM blog)
  34. How #adblocking matures from #NoAds to #SafeAds (22 October 2015)
  35. How Will the Big Data Craze Play Out (1 November 2015 in Linux Journal)
  36. Ad Blockers and the Next Chapter of the Internet (5 November in Harvard Business Review)
  37. At last, Cluetrain’s time has come (5 December 2015)
  38. The End of Internet Advertising as We’ve Known It (11 December 2015 in MIT Technology Review)
  39. More thoughts on privacy (13 December 2015)
  40. Why ad blocking is good (17 December 2015 talk at the U. of Michigan)
  41. What we can do with ad blocking’s leverage (1 January 2016 in Linux Journal)
  42. Rethinking John Wanamaker (18 January 2016)
  43. What if we don’t need advertising at all? (15 February 2016 in ProjectVRM) Also in Medium (Same date.)
  44. @BlockstackOrg, @IPFS, @OpenBazaar, @OneName, @Telehash, @Mine_Labs #Mediachain, @IBMIVB #ADEPT: Come 2 @IDworkshop and @VRM Day (28 February in ProjectVRM) This was later retitled and partially rewritten as Iot & IoM next week at IIW (20 April 2016)
  45. Earth to marketing: customers don’t want to be “acquired” (14 March 2016 in ProjectVRM)
  46. Time for THEM to agree to OUR terms (29 March 2016 in Customer Commons and in Medium)
  47. A Way Off the Ranch (1 April 2016 in Medium)
  48. The Data Bubble (9 April in Medium)
  49. For true true two-way agreements with websites and services, we need terms we can assert and they can accept. (9 April in Medium)
  50. TV Viewers to Madison Avenue: Please quit driving drunk on digital (14 Aprl 2016, and in Medium)
  51. An invitation to settle matters with @Forbes, @Wired and other publishers (15 April 2016 and in Medium)
  52. How customers can debug business with one line of code (19 April 2016 in ProjectVRM and in Medium)
  53. Is the advertising bubble finally starting to pop? (9 May 2016, and in Medium)
  54. Why #NoStalking is a good deal for publishers (11 May 2016, and in Medium)
  55. The Castle Doctrine (19 June 2016 in ProjectVRM, and in Medium)
  56. If it weren’t for retargeting, we might not have adblocking (13 August 2016 in ProjectVRM and 15 August 2016 in Medium)
  57. It’s People vs. Advertising, not Publishers vs. Adblockers (26 August 2016 in ProjectVRM and 27 August 2016 in Medium)

Save

Save

  1. Joseph Ratliff’s avatar

    These could almost be collected into a book of essays titled the same way this post is “The Adblock Wars.”

    Perhaps a PDF with all these collected, at minimum (links included). But even a paperback would be nice (self-published).

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    I wrote this in a comment under the Bermuda Response Triangle of Advertising piece (above) that pinged here…

    Several points.

    First, I have no problem with “digital.” We live in a digital world now. (I’ve written about this a lot. One sample: http://bit.ly/g18t0.)

    Second, there are plenty of places where “the relatively benign and balanced model of advertising laid out by Searls” does still exist. Examples include all of print, all of commercial radio, live broadcast TV (especially sports) and the parts of digital where ads aren’t direct response marketing, cloaked as advertising. (For more on the differences, see http://j.mp/adwhtch.)

    Third, if by “more accountable and effective models” you mean tracking-based adtech, there are many (including some in the business) who would beg to differ. These three pieces in the Financial Times…

    * It does not pay for advertisers to narrow their targets too much https://www.ft.com/content/aae14ef0-75db-11e6-bf48-b372cdb1043a
    * Consumer fightback against online marketing is ramping up https://www.ft.com/content/42e4ff94-4db9-11e6-8172-e39ecd3b86fc
    * How the Mad Men lost the plot https://www.ft.com/content/cd1722ba-8333-11e5-8e80-1574112844fd

    … lay out the case pretty well. So does ample research on the privacy concerns of individuals. (Many reports by TRUSTe and others say 90%+ of people surveyed are at least concerned for their privacy—especially being tracked like animals online).

    Fourth, a sleight-of-meaning takes place in claims that an “exchange” is happening when people merely put up with something they don’t like when they get something they do. “Exchange” implies a conscious and willing action. That’s not what’s happening with mere acquiescence. (For more on that, Annenberg has a good study on what it calls “The Tradeoff Fallacy”: https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/news/americans-resigned-giving-their-data-new-asc-findings-suggest.)

    Fifth, I totally agree that we’re in a “disruptive wave.” For that wave, full credit should be given to individuals, in the hundreds of millions, choosing of their own free will to block ads and tracking in their own private spaces, such as their browsers. This amounts to the biggest boycott in human history (see http://j.mp/bcott). To blame that boycott (as does, for example, the IAB) on the companies providing the prophylactics, is pure misdirection. Individuals are taking a lead in this thing, and it would be best to respect where they are going with it. (For a long list of those places, see http://j.mp/vrmdevwrk.) It sounds to me like you are among those individuals when you say “We will fight back by blocking the hijacking of our attention.” If so, I salute that, and hope you will join our efforts at ProjectVRM (http://projectvrm.org) to solve market problems not just with better marketing, but with better tools on the customers’ side.

    Cheers,

    Doc

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *