By Jay Donaldson
Some of you are saying, “Wait a minute, you're a digital marketer... Doesn’t this sort of go against your own industry?” My answer, “Nope.” I believe in legitimate advertising, in all forms. There are plenty of great digital marketing strategies that leverage SEO, paid search, social, email, content marketing, relevant display advertising, re-marketing, and more that do not need to involve clickbait or fake news. Also, I will show you how to use ad blocking responsibly via setting adjustments that allow you to see relevant, helpful ads if you prefer.
Please keep in mind, if you don't support the sites that support you, their quality will suffer from lack of funding and they could potentially go away altogether. But I get it, the current landscape is out of control. It’s become harder and harder to discern real news from fake news. It’s almost impossible to completely avoid clickbait. Take the below, for instance… here are two examples where a website leverages clickbait and integrates sponsored content into their regular content.
Watch how clickbait and sponsored articles are wiped clean with an ad blocker using the proper settings.
Slide the Bar Left and Right:
Another example... Slide the Bar Left and Right to see the difference an ad blocker makes:
The good news for people like me in the Digital Marketing space is that 77% of ad block users say they are willing to view certain ad formats. Most people understand that display advertising is the primary revenue source for the sites that they enjoy. If they want the sites to stay free, they need to show ads. Visitors just don’t want to be abused. They don’t want to see disruptive formats, clickbait, fake news, or get exposed to malware (who does?) – but they are open to relevant, genuine and well-targeted ads promoting shows, products, and more that potentially interest them.
Bottom line – use ad blocking responsibly. If you enjoy a website’s content and want it to stay free, simply allow the ads to run. I’ll show you how.
So, without further ado… *drumroll*… here are my top two favorite ad blocking software solutions that work great on Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Safari, and more.
Given that Chrome is currently the most widely used browser, let’s start with that.
Simply open your Chrome browser and type in “AdBlock for Chrome” in the address bar or search bar. It will take you to a page on the Chrome Web Store that allows you to install the AdBlock extension for Chrome for free.
After it is installed you should see a screen like this:
That’s basically it.
It’s completely free. Please note that there is a page that will pop up asking for a donation. You are not required to donate, but it’s like… well, you know that feeling you get when you pass by the little kid with a lemonade stand and you just don’t want to pull the car over and deal with the hassle but you want to support them… yeah, it’s kinda like that if you don’t donate.
Once installed, you will see a little AdBlock reporter next to your address bar in the upper right hand corner of Chrome. By default, ad blocking is turned on for all websites and pages you visit, so you don't have to do anything to activate it.
This is also where AdBlock displays how many ads are being blocked on each page you visit:
Remember how we talked about being responsible? You can click on the AdBlock icon (looks like a stop sign with a hand in it) to adjust your settings to support sites that you like. Feel free to “white list” sites that you frequent as well as fully customize your ad blocking experience by selecting “Options.”
Here are some examples of home pages before and after using AdBlock.
Move the slider left and right to see the difference before and after:
Another example... Slide the Bar Left and Right to see the difference AdBlock makes:
As you can see in some of the examples above, if you block an entire site that you frequent, you may be missing out on potentially relevant and helpful articles and promotions. That's why it is important to "white list" sites that you like and be more surgical when blocking ads.
If you are not using a Chrome browser and instead surf the web on Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, iOS, Android, Opera or similar browsers – then Ghostery would be my recommendation for you.
How to download and install
Instead of demonstrating on all browsers, I will walk you through a Firefox installation. Most browser installations will be like this (except for Safari, which we’ll get to later).
Start by typing “Ghostery for Firefox” in the address bar or search bar. For other browsers, just type in “Ghostery for Internet Explorer… or Opera…” or whatever you need.
It will take you to an Add-ons page and you simply click on the “+ Add to Firefox” button:
It should install quickly from there and you’re off to the races. You should see a cute little blue Snapchat-wannabe-looking ghost in the upper-right hand corner.
Click on the little blue ghost in the upper-right hand corner of your browser and you’ll see some ad blocking options.
You might be tempted to jump straight to blocking all ads by hitting “Block All” in the upper-right corner. But look how easy it is to block just an individual source of ads:
Sources like Outbrain and Taboola may be a good place to start when looking to clean up your browsing experience.
If you elect to "Block All..."
Yes, Presto-Magico! Ads are gone:
The ads are gone, but you may have also eliminated some social features like Facebook Connect, Customer Interactions, Comments, and Audio-Video functionality. You will also miss out on relevant advertising promoting information you might find useful. My recommendation is to look for ad sources that are distracting and start with blocking those.
I’m a Mac fan. I used to be in the “you can pry my Mac from my cold, dead hand” club. But ever since Steve Jobs passed away… one sec… gotta pour out a 40…
Well, let’s just say I had to put down my Galaxy S7 smartphone to pour out that 40. ‘Nuf said.
So here we go… installing Ghostery on Safari starts by typing “Ghostery on Safari” in the address bar or search bar. This should take you to the download page:
Yep, click “Add to Safari.” You will notice that it downloads a disk image installer package. No worries, we know the drill, just go to downloads and open the Ghostery.safariextz package:
This will take you to this Safari Extensions manager page:
Yep, we went around our elbow to get to our thumb. Go ahead and hit “Install now.” And Presto-Magico!
Wait… we’re still seeing ads all over the place… Click on the grey little Snapchat-wannabe-ghost icon next to the address bar (where you usually type in URLs, it will be at the front of the bar):
Here is a great opportunity to go down the list and select specific sources that you find to be particularly unhelpful or distracting:
I recommend you start by leaving most ad sources on and customize as you go to remove unwanted advertising sources as you come across them. If you want to block all advertising, you will have to go into the settings by clicking the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner to get “Blocking Options.” From there you can block all ads. Feel free to test this option and pull up a page to see if it’s blocking all ads. Presto-Magico?
Yep, Presto-Magico! Ads are gone.
That Safari one was a little different than the others and you might be asking, "Why all the hub-bub, bub?" Well, we’re pretty much done with the ad blocking walk-through, so if you want to grab a cold one and join me by the fire I’ll give you my 2 cents on this one...
Apple had a vision of turning its failed ad serving platform, iAds, into a money-making juggernaut like iTunes. You didn’t know Apple had an ad serving platform? Yeah, it started around 2010 and by 2014 it only accounted for 0.3% (less than $500 million) of Apple’s annual revenue. Compared to iTunes $24 billion.
You're probably not motivated to block ads if your game plan is to charge advertisers a 30% toll to ride your advertising platform's highway.
Personally, I believe Apple would have continued to screw around with iAds for longer, but it’s hard for them to watch Google make $59 billion in annual advertising revenue (with $14 billion coming from non-Google properties) and NOT turn to Winston and say, “Hey, Crawford, WTF?”
Which is why Apple likely pivoted in 2015 to a “death by competitive starvation” approach and put a hit on Google by jumping on the ad blocking wagon. In typical post-Steve Jobs fashion, though, they didn’t seem to embrace it well or roll it out cleanly. They stumbled through the second half of 2015 kinda like, “yeah, we got that now… [cough] and… uh... here’s some technical documentation.” Combine a poor roll out with Apple’s hoops they make you jump through to get products and services on their platform… you’re going to get clunky installs and interfaces.
You would think that Apple would have had a better Plan B that was more ready to go to market. Apple makes in 6 months what Google makes in a year and 90% of Google’s income is from advertising. Apple joining the ad blocking scene now seems like an impulsive, reactionary attempt to kick Google in the shin to buy time while they try to figure out how they can reconfigure an ad serving network that generates b’s instead of m’s.
Bottom line – "build or buy," and build failed. Apple will likely scan the horizon for ad blocker solutions and over time attempt to buy the one with most market share penetration and evolve that into something like Brave (which is still in beta). Brave takes the ads out and replaces them with their own content. Apple can just slap a 30% markup on that over time and call it a day.
In the meantime, we get to enjoy clunky experiences like what we got with the Ghostery installation.
Thanks for sticking it out this long and reading through ‘til the end. You’re one of the good ones!
Jay Donaldson © 2017 All Rights Reserved.