In recent weeks, the advertising industry has stepped up its criticism of ad blocking, calling it immoral, thievery and flat out evil.
This rhetoric is borne out of fear. And the industry is right to be afraid.
Ad tech is standing at the edge of a precipice that it seems not to acknowledge -- a fact that a recent tweet perfectly illustrates:
To begin with, funding anti-consumer technology isn't cause for celebration (Disclaimer: Shine provides mobile ad-blocking technology to consumers).
But let's move past misguided sentiment to the methodology through which anti-ad blockers offer publishers the ability to recoup their lost revenue by:
Step 1: Forcefully disabling ad blockers that users legally opted into and activated.
Step 2: Re-bombarding these same users with ads they clearly didn't want in the first place.
Step 3: Charging advertisers for targeting those who most resent being targeted.
If the value proposition is eyebrow-raising, the economic rationale of anti-ad blocking is just plain baffling: What advertiser would buy anti-ad user traffic? That is, what kind of media buyer would pay to show ads to a consumer who very clearly doesn't want to see ads? What could possibly be the conversion or brand lift expected from such a media buy?
Maybe it takes drinking ad-tech Kool-Aid to rationalize answers to these questions along with what motivates individuals to wake up in the morning, go to work and develop anti-consumer technology.
Shine's origins are in cybersecurity and white-hat hacking. We've used our technical know-how to outwit malware and malware-like technologies such as ad tech with much more on the line than a team of wunderkind with Bay Area and toolbar pedigrees.
We are therefore, shall we say, a tad skeptical when it comes to finite statements such as the ability to eliminate ad blocking forever.
Sabre-rattling aside, instead of advertising to those who want to be advertised to, or making ad targeting and tracking less intrusive, the industry believes it can curtail the uptake of ad-blocking solutions by deploying "anti" technology. If it can't learn from the history of consumerism, the industry will soon learn anyway: That it can only succeed in accelerating ad-blocking adoption. (Napster, anyone?)
The fact is, consumers have a right to block ads. That's why Apple is allowing ad blocking on iOS9. That's why even Google's Larry Page has said ad blocking isn't about removing ads, but forcing the industry to embrace more consumer-friendly tactics.
IAB Chairman David Morris has referred to ad blocking as "a growing problem." But his problem isn't ad blocking. It's consumers who are fed up with an industry that has gone unchecked for far too long.
Consumers aren't blocking ads to block ads. They are standing up to say the current model for online advertising is abusive, and it will not stand.
Rather than demonize frustrated consumers just because they now have the power to correct questionable business practices, the industry should be taking a new look at its "best practices."
Now that would be "super."
Of course, it might take another 200 million consumers opting-in to ad blocking for this to happen. Luckily, we are well on our way.