Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dilemma of Adblocking

Something I very much prefer to do without on the web is advertising. Sometimes it is acceptable, but many times it is annoying, sometimes horribly so. Opening a webpage and having my computer abruptly blare a toothpaste ad pisses me off no end. Ads are best when they are silent static images or text.

However, annoying as they may be, the impulse to install and adblocker may harm the sites I enjoy, in that they receive less revenue from the advertisers, without which they might go under, and I'd prefer that not happen. This is assuming, of course, that they're working on a CPM model--if it's CPA then I don't know how to answer that, in that I avoid clicking on ads when I do see them.

So, I started thinking: is there a way to accomplish both goals? Could an adblocker be built that still retrieves the ads but simply pipes them to /dev/null? On the minus side, such an adblocker would negate two of the advantages of the standard ones: privacy and bandwidth, though perhaps the privacy one could be negated by providing some form of specialized cookie cache.

Maybe even a slicker form could be made. For example, could the blocker:
1) intercept the request for the advertising;
2) perform the request;
3) grab the headers to determine its MIME type;
4) return a piece of stub data to the browser window while discarding the request payload
This might work around some of the more annoying forms of ad enforcement while providing the same advantages.

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