Since the dawn of the internet, savvy entrepreneurs and webmasters have been using website advertising as a source of regular income. And whilst most ads remain unobtrusive, in recent years there has been a growing number of popups, redirects and other experience diminishing annoyances.
But web users didn't concede the battle. In 2006 AdBlock released version 0.6 of its ad blocking software; it has since become the most widely used browser extension of all time. Finally, people had a way to block irritating adverts, whilst even letting approved ads (such as those from Google Adsense) display as normal. Adblock Plus also developed other addons, which allowed users to stop tracking scripts (which are mainly used for visitor analytics) and social media tracking. The growing popularity of Adblock didn't go unnoticed, and so began the counter-offensive.
By 2014, websites started displaying messages asking users to turn AdBlock off. Soon after, a sizable number of websites started demanding Adblock to be turned off and even prevented using part or all of their website until the user has done so. Although it may be understandable that webmasters would like to generate a profit from their content, this still came as a major frustration to the majority of Adblock users; another blow to the growing community of ad evaders, but Adblock still had another trick up their sleeve.
Now the counter-counter-offensive begins. Adblock gives its users the option to block Adblock blocking detection scripts in order to use the website as normal, except with no ads. So business as usual then? Not quite. The only issue with this blocking the detection scripts is that there are so many different methods of detecting Adblock, it is not always possible to block the script in question. In some cases where the script is blocked, the website is also broken in the process, leaving it unusable anyway.
If that wasn't complicated enough, Adblock Plus have just announced a new service. Selling ads. Whilst initially it may sound counter-intuitive, they claim that ads are replaced with acceptable, less intrusive counterparts instead of the ads which the website normally run. It is also relatively publisher friendly, giving 80 percent of revenue to the site owners and keeping back a still quite high 20 percent. The replacement ads will be controlled through an advertising network, where Adblock hopes acceptable ads can thrive. So maybe what some make think of as a crazy idea on Adblock's part may turn out to be a happy medium, providing revenue to publishers without compromising on user experience. Others have been very critical of the scheme which gives Adblock total control over a significant proportion of the web (albeit on the end user's browser side) and creates revenue for them from other website's content.
Since 2011, Adblock's approach to adverts has been to find a way to allow user-friendly ads to pass through the filter and just block unwanted ads. Their most recent approach may signal an amnesty towards the pro-adverts webmaster community, but will they settle for this new arrangement? Only time will tell.