back to article ADpocalypse NOW: Three raises the stakes

It’s WAR. CK Hutchison’s Three network will become the first UK mobile operator to block ads, threatening to undermine the $100bn mobile ad business, and app developers and publishers who depend on them. Three confirmed to us that apps will be starved of ads once the blocking is turned on. Although Three is the smallest of …

  1. AdamWill

    Inferring a bit too far

    "Strangely the net neutrality crowd have gone very quiet", says Andrew, and goes on to extrapolate two paragraphs of bollocks from that. Er, this story broke within the last, what, seven hours? Overnight, in the US? You might want to at least give people a day before making wild inferrals on the sole basis that they didn't say anything yet.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Inferring a bit too far

      "Shouldn’t a web page get to the user just as the originator intended?"

      Er, did the creator of the page also create the adverts? Or are they a parasitic aspect that is relied upon to pay bills?

      That is a BIG difference in the net neutrality stakes - one is allowing the end user to choose what they want without interference, the other is allowing the web hosting to push whatever they want without interference.

      Andrew is right in one respect though: it is high time that funding of content was properly considered and not left to the cesspool of advertisings.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Inferring a bit too far

        I don't want to pay for content though. I want enough stupid people to click the ads, so I don't even have to see them.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Inferring a bit too far

        Nice use of the passive voice there. "Or are they a parasitic aspect that is relied upon to pay bills".

        Take the unnecessary passive verbiage out of that: "Or are they what pay the bills?"

        If I request a web page, my browser generally requests all objects linked into that page. I don't expect to have to request each picture, script, stylesheet and whatever manually. (Maybe I should. But we tried that, back in the day, and it's too much hassle.) Then my browser decides what it wants to do with all that data - some it will display, some it will interpret and think about executing, and some - it'll just ignore, because I use Adblock like everyone else.

        Net neutrality is absolutely the issue here. What we're seeing is a network that decides what information to pass on to its customers, based on where that information originates from, or what it contains. That's precisely what the net neutrality fuss was about. (And incidentally, why I always thought net neutrality was a silly idea - because I thought its supporters probably hadn't thought it through. I still don't think they have.)

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Inferring a bit too far

      "Strangely the net neutrality crowd have gonebeen very quiet" What Andrew should of said.

      The Shine product hit the market last year.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/07/you_should_not_be_paying_for_ads_please_buy_our_software/

      And EE talked about doing what Three have announced.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/23/ee_plans_to_block_annoying_ads_on_mobile_network/

      So whilst the Three story has only broken today, the idea, the desire and the ability for ISPs to implement ad-blocking has been public knowledge for a while. So it is correct to ask why no one has come forward to defend the ad networks. I suspect it is because net neutrality is really all about protecting the content that users take a positive action to receive: I visit Netflix to access NetFlix content not for the ad's.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Inferring a bit too far

        "What Andrew should of said."

        At least Mr O never makes that particular schoolboy error.

    3. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Inferring a bit too far

      It is true that it is an inference too far unless it turns out Three is just playing a game and will let ads through... for a fee.

      Are they just hoping for a payout from the ad-companies? Net Neut isn't about filtering per se, it is about preventing the economics of the internet being manipulated by companies who are supposed to be facilitating traffic but are instead trying to get people to pay for it. Routers turned tolls.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inferring a bit too far

      No such word as inferrals. It's inferences.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A new internet needed, sooner rather than later.

    No. What is needed is for the public to wise up to the fact that if you are paying for the service, you shouldn't be paying for the ads.

    You know that canard about the greatest trick the devil pulled was making the world believe he didn't exist ?

    The greatest trick the content providers pulled was being able to gouge both ends - advertiser *and* viewer - at the same time.

    Of course, the dichotomy is, the advertisers don't want poor people but rich people (who can pay to avoid adverts).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you're paying for a service YOU are the product

      That's not a typo. Not data pimping and ad slinging users is leaving money in the table, even if they're paying subscribers.

    2. Keven E

      Advertising adds *value?

      "...What is needed is for the public to wise up to the fact that if you are paying for the service, you shouldn't be paying for the ads."

      Didn't cable, at one time during its inception (here in the US) promise the delivery of "commercial's free' TV... because if you are paying for programing (unlike free broadcast TV) you wouldn't have to (why would you want to) pay for advertisement.

      That didn't last long.

      1. Fihart

        Re: Advertising adds *value?

        Sky TV -- amazed when visiting friends to see that though they paid for Sky, they still had to put up with ads. Obviously they calculate that if you're stupid enough to pay for telly, you won't worry.

        Glad to undermine neighbouring landlord's deal where Sky installed dish and cabling for free (while removing regular TV aerial cables) so that tenants are "encouraged" to buy Sky. I regularly find Sky boxes in the trash and have been happy to give these to his tenants who can use them as Freesat devices.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Advertising adds *value?

        "Didn't cable, at one time during its inception (here in the US) promise the delivery of "commercial's free' TV... because if you are paying for programing (unlike free broadcast TV) you wouldn't have to (why would you want to) pay for advertisement."

        I just a US TV show last night which started with the on-screen announcement of "delivered to you with shorter ad breaks". So slightly less ads is a now a selling point? Wow!

        1. sysconfig

          Re: Advertising adds *value?

          I just a US TV show last night which started with the on-screen announcement of "delivered to you with shorter ad breaks". So slightly less ads is a now a selling point? Wow!

          It's probably a bit deceptive anyway. Shorter maybe, but likely more of them.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: Advertising adds *value?

            It's probably a bit deceptive anyway. Shorter maybe, but likely more of them.

            US TV is insufferable anyway. Who in the world can watch TV if it's mostly adds interspersed with a 5 minute interlude of "actual program" every now and then. (I say actual program, but we all know US TV has produced almost nothing but crap for the last decade at least)

            --> I'm sure they are involved somehow -->

    3. GX5000

      Re: A new internet needed, sooner rather than later.

      "Hutch is treating advertising like malware, or spam."

      It's not ? :)

    4. Anne-Lise Pasch

      Re: A new internet needed, sooner rather than later.

      Don't need a new internet. Just put adverts on a new tld (.advertising) and enforce metadata for sizing. Then, if you opt out of advertising, your pages are still the same size. Then browsers can flag if your advertising is on/off for the purposes of paywall checks for those websites that use a freemium model.

  3. Steven Raith

    Hahahahahahaha

    The ad networks and their malware slinging can't die soon enough.

    Might return some sanity to the internet if people can't just throw any old shit up and expect to get paid for it for fucking nothing.

    And yes, I'm well aware that many sites will suffer as a result of this - well, tough shit. You should have come through with a proper revenue model long ago.

    Steven "The Bill Hicks School Of Sales And Marketing" R.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hahahahahahaha

      I find it breathtaking that people believe advertising disappears because you block pictures in neatly defined boxes?

      It doesn't. It becomes the content.

      Does that taste better? Do you prefer your advertising hidden. Do you think advertising standards bodies with their big bold teeth will control that for you?

      If you think Bill Hicks wouldn't have spotted that, you need to more research on him.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Hahahahahahaha

        "Does that taste better?"

        If the advertising becomes content (and it frequently is anyway) then the site becomes solely responsible for it. If they start including malware in their content then they're going to have to face the legal consequences - such as paying the ransoms for a few thousand borked computers. So they're going to have to be a good deal more careful about where the content comes from and what it actually contains.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Hahahahahahaha

          What if the ad folks become proxies and insert the ads inline, much like how modern product placement can replace sponsored products between runs of a show? Because the ad people are now between you and the content, you can't block them without blocking the content, too.

          1. mythicalduck

            Re: Hahahahahahaha

            What if the ad folks become proxies and insert the ads inline, much like how modern product placement can replace sponsored products between runs of a show? Because the ad people are now between you and the content, you can't block them without blocking the content, too.

            I could see those sites dying. I certainly wouldn't visit them.

            In fact, sites that pop up asking me to subscribe or whatnot before I've even seen any content on their site annoy the crap out of me, and I never go back there

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Hahahahahahaha

            "Because the ad people are now between you and the content, you can't block them without blocking the content, too."

            Fortunately, there are almost always alternatives. I stopped using Tucows when they directed the download links via their ad adserver. Blocking the adserver blocked all downloads. I've not seen Tucows for years. Do they still exist? I've no idea, but I still find and download what I need without needing to visit Tucows.

        2. Adam 1

          Re: Hahahahahahaha

          > then the site becomes solely responsible for it. If they start including malware in their content then they're going to have to face the legal consequences

          Firstly, I fully appreciate what you are getting at here. Every single occasion that I have seen pwned advertising infect users via web ads, it has always been the fault of some nameless intermediary. Not the site. Not even the ad network. Yet the viewer is the one left carrying the can. Site's are happy to take the (tiny) revenue but not the responsibility. And I am talking literally every occasion from big name sites even security researchers.

          The question is whether pushing it to the publisher themselves will fix this. I have my doubts. We have literally just seen a reasonably known OS vendor just ask everyone to reinstall the whole OS because their website got pwned and hosted a backdoored version. Oh yeah, someone else's fault (WP). Nice, but who is carrying the can.... Again.....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazing

    Woah! Peeps are still getting ads rendered on their devices? In 2016?

    1. adnim

      Re: Amazing

      "Woah! Peeps are still getting ads rendered on their devices? In 2016?"

      Those without control over their devices indeed are. Consumers/sheep/cannon fodder, the difference is purely semantic. And whilst I do have some sympathy with the victims. When a consumer/sheep/customer/client/victim does not even think to themselves ... "Why should I see this, how can I stop it." My sympathy ends.

    2. BobRocket
      Thumb Up

      Re: Amazing - RTFA

      This is about Ad-Blocking at the network end so that I don't use my data allowance downloading unwanted ads.

      Well played Three, someone there obviously reads The Register comments.

      BT must also read ElReg for coming up with a plan to block spam by pressing a button in-call, they should implement the suggestion of blocking and auto-reporting phishing/scam calls as well.

      1. BobRocket

        When I was a kid

        My sister got a kitten, she put a collar with a bell on it, the cat wasn't happy but soon got used to the collar. It soon aquired an enameled badge (the car co had the same name) and an extra bell.

        When the cat was 4 or 5, if you removed the collar the cat would attack you and grab its collar back, carrying it round in its mouth. Replacing the collar would be rewarded with loud purrs.

        The cat had become institutionalised.

        We had another cat, a collar wouldn't last a day.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When I was a kid

          See, this is what the modern Interweb does best. Catz, Lol.

        2. Adam 1

          Re: When I was a kid

          She called her cat Koenigsegg?

  5. GregC

    I'm in two minds on this. On the one hand, my default view of ads is that they need to die. I'd be very happy if I never saw another one in my life. However, I'm not happy about any content being intercepted/blocked/modified at the network level. Three's job is to send me the content, not pass (seemingly arbitrary) judgement over 'good' and 'bad' content - if I want to block ads, which I do, I block them on my device.

  6. cd

    The reason some of us haven't said much is because as long as other people believe in this model, idiot corp-types will keep paying for content, either not being aware of outliers who use blockers, or not caring as long a there are "numbers".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ad-Lite

    I recently experienced Forbes "Ad-Lite" approach - frequently changing colourful (aninmated?) distractions bouncing around in the right-hand margin. !!!! If that's Ad-Lite then I hated to think what Ad-Heavy would be like.

    Then, on today's BBC, I find Forbes telling me exactly what their Ad-Heavy approach involved:

    "US business magazine Forbes is asking users to turn their blockers off in exchange for an "ad-light" experience. If readers comply, Forbes says, they will be shown no welcome ad, no video ads inserted between paragraphs, and no ads between posts."

    That is insane! I's surprised there's any space left for the alleged "content".

    Signal to noise must be about 1:1000, and it's the ISP who gets the profit on the bandwidth - not the content provider. It's actually looks quite brave for a telco to save our data caps like that (or are their networks just drowning in ads?).

    1. Grikath

      Re: Ad-Lite

      I've a feeling their network is drowning in Ads.. With the resultant stress on network capacity and delivery. Given how bad mobile advertising has become, I've a feeling they can free up something in the order of 10's of percent of bandwidth capacity this way. That's a BIG gain...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This makes an easy solution for content providers - get Three's IP range, and block them. I hope El Reg does this. Watch the "entitled brigade" go absolutely crazy. Last I checked, it's still a human right to not have to provide services for others for free.

    Though I do agree, programmatic ad exchanges need to figure out a way to police bad actors, and fast.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Last I checked, it's still a human right to not have to provide services for others for free."

      Nailed it! At present the device owners are having to provide a service (bandwidth) for others (advertisers) for free. So as you agree, users have a human right to see that ended.

      If the advertisers were paying for the bandwidth they're using to piss off potential customers it might be a little different.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "If the advertisers were paying for the bandwidth they're using to piss off potential customers it might be a little different."

        For those old enough to remember, it's all rather reminiscent of fax spamming. The end user bares much of the cost of the spamming. I'm not sure if it;s changed, but ISTR that US mobile phones also charge the both the caller and the receiver for voice calls too so robo/voice spam to US mobiles has a similar cost to the end users, hence some laws forbidding fax and mobile spam calls.

      2. terry doyle

        Remember spam faxes?

        This is like back in the day when you would receive random offers on your fax ... and you had to pay for the paper!!! I always thought that was really cheeky... AND they kept the line busy.

    2. Archie Woodnuts

      IP blocks take whole seconds to bypass, if that. What would be the point?

      That aside, no one's forcing content providers to do anything and they could, you know, not. The problem is that I suspect most content providers are aware that not many would care if they did stop and would simply go elsewhere or not bother at all.

  9. Wommit

    Why should I pay for content I do not want, and didn't request? If a site throws ADs at me, I won't go there again. So the advertisers and the original content provider lose.

    Now, If the advertisers want to PAY ME to receive their ADs, well that's a different story.

    1. veti Silver badge

      They do pay you. They send you the content that you requested.

      Don't want it? Don't request it.

      Imagine you're lactose-intolerant, and you see someone giving out "Free picnics". It'd be completely reasonable for you to pick up a hamper and throw out everything with cheese in it, leaving only the bits you can eat. But the guy giving out the hampers is under no obligation to create a whole separate version specially for you, that's pre-edited to your requirements. And if you complain, when you pick the hamper up, that it's too heavy for you because of all the damn' cheese - why exactly should anyone have sympathy?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "But the guy giving out the hampers is under no obligation to create a whole separate version specially for you,"

        Isn't that the whole basis of targeted adversing?

  10. sjsmoto

    Ads are annoying, and I'd love to see a change (like plain-text ads only), but I'd call them voluntary in many cases - you voluntarily visit a page or use a game knowing there will be ads (like on The Reg). What I'd prefer to be gotten rid of first is spam email. No one asks for it or wants it, and it eats time getting rid of it.

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Meh

    I'm a 3 victim

    sorry .. user

    This is a good idea.. ok the sites I view via the phone are limited, mostly BBC and the met office

    But since the net office introduced ads on their webpages, their pages take a *&%*ing age to load, especially if you're after the rainfal radar picture.

    Just thank gawd I'm on unlimited data... paying to view ads.... jeez

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Putting ads in the same category as malware and similar doesn't seem wrong to me, mostly because those ad networks often is used to spew malware to millions unsuspecting users.

    It has happened again, and again.

    However, I'm against allowing the network/ISP itself do it (because that would be censoring).

    If the site in question can't take personal (literarily) responsibility for the ads they're serving, they have no business being on the site in the first place. Especially when they know the above.

    If they vouched for them in a way that would make them liable by law for any direct or indirect damage said ads do, then I may be less inclined to blocking them.

  13. quattroprorocked

    Wired just asked me for $1 a week

    or remove adblock.

    OK, there's a buck a week. There's one other web publication I'd do that for. You're reading it.

    (The others I get on paper, so am paying them anyway).

    It's cheaper than coffee and lasts longer, and won't give you diabetes. (Apoplexy perhaps, but that's another story).

  14. israel_hands

    "Strangely the net neutrality crowd have gone very quiet"

    What the fucking fuck has this got to do with net neutrality? That's a bullshit conflation dreamed up by the ad-slingers to try and paint themselves as victims.

    Net neutrality says all content should given equal bandwidth for delivery, so users can choose to view content from any provider without being forced to rely on the big names who can pay for the fastest lanes.

    Blocking ads is a user deciding they don't want to see a certain type of content, all that's happening here is the network providing all users a tool for doing so, should they wish.

    If I don't want to watch streaming videos that isn't a net neutrality issue either, it's me deciding what content I want to view.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are Three's customers being given any choice?

      Are they providing the users a tool - i.e. letting you decide whether you want to enable this network level ad blocking? If they are, I say good on them, but there is nothing in the article to indicate that's the case. If they are just enabling it for everyone without giving you a choice, then I think it is a violation of net neutrality.

      That fact that it is done with good intentions and something that almost every end user would support is irrelevant. It legitimates the carrier's "right" to choose what content a user requested that they don't get. Maybe next time they do something you don't like quite so much as free ad blocking.

      I think Three is being very clever here. Carriers don't want net neutrality, and giving consumers something they want that violates net neutrality may help win them over to the dark side. Now if someone wants to make net neutrality a requirement, Three can go to their customers and say "hey you know this nice ad blocking thing we gave you, sure would be a shame to lose that. You want to write your MPs and tell them you are against a net neutrality requirement".

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    'Hutch explained today that it’s implementing ad blocking because “customers should not pay data charges to receive adverts. These should be costs borne by the advertiser.”'

    Maybe if advertisers were to volunteer to pay their way 3 might reconsider.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's the business plan?

      "Maybe if advertisers were to volunteer to pay their way 3 might reconsider."

      What odds would you offer on "pay us for whitelisting and your ads won't get blocked by us" not already being part of the business plan?

  16. Sir Alien

    Ads becoming a self-propogating virus.

    When ads first started I did not mind to much. There were few ads on a page and normally a static image or text, so keeping it simply and out of the way. If I liked something, I clicked the ad out of interest.

    Now it's like driving through town, but instead of seeing one or two billboards with an advertisement, the entire town is just a giant ad platform with every wall moving and spewing rubbish into your face.

    So I basically set a criteria on my ads now. If it moves, flashes or is flash, especially the ones that expand and make a site go nuts, it is blocked. If it is a static image or some textual advertising my ad-blocker lets it through. If a website is so interesting that I come back for repeat visits, I would happily pay a $1 a week/month to not see any ads. Maybe elReg should consider this while also deploy some SSL transport.

    SSL certificates are only like $10 or $20 per year.

    - S.A

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Ads becoming a self-propogating virus.

      "Now it's like driving through town, but instead of seeing one or two billboards with an advertisement, the entire town is just a giant ad platform with every wall moving and spewing rubbish into your face."

      But you see, that's what the ad people are doing everywhere. TV ads are time-aligned so you can't escape them by changing the channel. Street ads are on every single street so you can't drive around them. Soon, inline unblockable ads will be all over the Internet (probably by using a proxy system so they're inserted inline and as a precondition for visiting any site). At which point, the only way you'll be able to escape from the admen is to go primitive. The only way to avoid TV ads will be to turn off the TV, the only way to avoid street ads is to stay home, and the only way to avoid Internet ads will soon be to stay off the Internet. IOW, it'll become the price of admission: go or no go?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ads becoming a self-propogating virus.

        "TV ads are time-aligned so you can't escape them by changing the channel."

        The solution to that is MythTV & fast forward.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Internet has been taken over by advertisers ruining the web with their anti user clutter. Anything that pushes back and corrects the current shameful course that content has taken should be welcomed.

    I never believed content was king but now it is hard to find content without shit interweaved.

    All those that offer services funded by advertising need to think hard about their true value and get money from elsewhere. Most will struggle to find their value and will consequently be of little loss of they went away.

    I do hope that it is possible to turn off for those that don't want it.

  18. Bob Rocket

    Re - When I was a kid

    That's better.

  19. Paratrooping Parrot
    Megaphone

    The reason I block ads

    I have decided to block adverts for a few reasons:

    * There are so many adverts on a page that use up valuable bandwidth.

    * I had enough of those adverts that have flashing graphics.

    * There have been too many dodgy adverts serving malware.

    If those issues are resolved with a simple text based advert that is clearly marked and that does not download any other content or involve stealing logins, then maybe the site will be given the green light. Until that time, I will use my adblocking plugin.

    It is up to the advertising community to clean up its act.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The reason I block ads

      Trouble is, unobtrusive ads don't get noticed and thus get ignored and are, to the ad men, wasted. Why do you think static banner ads are so infrequent these days? Because they tend to get ignored. It's been that way for ages. They make new ads, people become innured to them, they have to find other ways to get people's attention. Mark my words, they'll find a way around the ad blockers, probably by cooperating with cachers like CloudFlare (or becoming such themselves) and act as proxies so that the ads are served inline, part and parcel to create a take-it-or-leave-it situation, and by "leave it" it'll probably mean leaving the Internet altogether and going back to the days of the classified ad and the Sears catalog.

      1. phil 27

        Re: The reason I block ads

        It wont be take it or leave it (the internet). It wasn't take it or leave it before all the advertising as a business model came along, and it wont kill off everything. It wont kill off manufacturers sites with product information as a online brochure, it wont kill off SME websites supporting a bricks and mortar business.

        I run a site for something non IT related, main site, discussion forum etc. Not a single banner ad, hosted on some spare capacity on a vhost I tend for other purposes. Sure it wont ever make me rich or even cover its bills in theory (though I've had people offer to give me free money to pay its hosting fees who are conditioned into paying to support things and can't get their head around the fact I think like this), but I'm doing it because I'm passionate about supporting the focus of the site, not because I want it to fund my retirement or keep the kids in shoes.

        I think you mean "take it or leave the commercial spam infested crapware shallow internet", facebook, and the other "social" sites and not the actual bit of the internet thats actually of any real use.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The reason I block ads

          @phil 27

          Thank you.

          Thank you firstly for a well reasoned comment.

          And thank you also for running whatever website it is, and for running it ad-free.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The reason I block ads

        "Trouble is, unobtrusive ads don't get noticed and thus get ignored and are, to the ad men, wasted."

        That's not really a problem to the actual advertisers. If they're not noticed they don't lose potential customers in the same way that a flashy, jumpy, autoplaying ad sticking it's fingers into the user's ears and eyeballs would.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The reason I block ads

          Actually it is. Ad clients will either demand a lower price for less effective work or they'll pack up and move to more effective advertisers. Remember, ad prices everywhere are based on the target size, and for the Internet in particular (where such measurement is actually possible in contrast to passive ads) can be based on the number of actual follow-throughs.

  20. Andy 73

    Oh dear

    I know this'll be downvoted into the ground, but wow, the smug guys with the "What, you losers see adverts?" comments are pretty much the reason ads are about the only revenue model available to most web sites. These are the same guys who would rather spend a day figuring out how to get their precious content for free than pay less than a few minutes' income for that content. The sense of entitlement and the certainty of their judgement ("I would never pay for content on any but my favoured site") is deeply depressing.

    I get the moral argument that you shouldn't be paying to have adverts served up to you. I get that Three want to offer a 'better' service to their customers (and get them used to the idea that the Network knows best). What I don't get is the determination of some people to erode the perceived value of content and to negate any business model that pays (very poorly) for that content. Adverts are certainly a pain, but it's the resistance of most users to actually pay anything at all for their precious content that pushes the advertisers to ever more extremes.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear

      "These are the same guys who would rather spend a day figuring out how to get their precious content for free than pay less than a few minutes' income for that content."

      The choice is not usually on offer.

  21. athame

    Well done 3!

    I will supress my normal vitriol and hopefully get posted for a change :-)

    3 saved my life when my itinerant ways prevented me from haveing a real broad band connection.

    I guess that as leaders in the mobile data market, 3 get plenty of complaints from their customers who have overshot their data allowances (and paid through the nose for the extra) about spending their money hard earned on unwanted adds. Who wants that garbage anyway? I normally get plagued with ads for things I have just bought. Things that no one in their right mind would buy more than one of. There is no AI behind targeted ad placement - just crass stupidity and greed - it's a numbers game - target enough bozos and someone will be enough to buy one. Well done 3!!!

  22. heenow

    Stop the movement

    If the ad just sits there, like in a magazine or newspaper, fine. I'll be the judge as to whether it interests me. But if it moves or makes noise in any way, or posts cookies or robs my data, I'll use an ad blocker to block all ads. If the publisher doesn't like that and blocks content from me, fine. I'll go somewhere else for the same content.

    The solution, however, isn't with the networks or the ad blockers, it's with the out-of-control ad companies themselves.

  23. Potemkine Silver badge

    What you reap is what you sow

    Kick back watch it crumble

    See the drowning, watch the fall

    I feel just terrible about it

    That's sarcasm, let it burn

    I discovered the web in 1993. Since then, I've seen the progressive destruction of this fantastic tool made to enlighten people by exchanging knowledge to make it a mix between a supermarket, a whore house and a snake oil fabric.

    So, to all the people who made this possible with a special mention to advertisers: FOD.

  24. nijam Silver badge

    > Throttling content: bad, except throttling ads: good

    The word "except" is superfluous in that phrase. Ads are not content.

  25. PassiveSmoking

    Hutch is treating advertising like malware, or spam

    That's because it is!

    At best, unscrupulous advertisers can use ads to gather data about you against your will, all while showing you an extremely annoying ad for their crappy product that eats up your data allowance to assault your eyeballs and eardrums.

    At worst, ad networks can be vectors for malware.

    If ads were merely annoying then I think net neutrality advocates would be forced to conclude that yes, the rules that apply to other content must apply to ads as well (though the argument could be made that the client never explicitly requested to see an ad, and content should only be sent if it's explicitly requested), though there's definitely a question over whether it's fair to make users pay or use up their data allowance on ads.

    Nobody is going to argue that malware has a right to be sent over the network. Rights typically end at the point where they're being used to commit criminal acts.

    Using ad blocking as a way of attacking net neutrality advocates is a stretch at best.

    1. andykb3

      Re: Hutch is treating advertising like malware, or spam

      "That's because it is!"

      No it isn't, at least not all of it.

      No-one seems to be taking into account that the ads are often what make the content possible. If you don't want to see the ads, then don't view the content. If you do want the content, then accept that ads are part of the deal. The irony being they are saying this on an ad-funded site.

      If you really hate the ads then don't access the content.

      The problems come when the ad networks are over-zealous, the content providers allow them to be too obtrusive to make trying to access the content worthwhile, or they sling malware at you.

      As far as I'm concerned, I'm happy to see (OK, ignore) a reasonable level of ads (like on this site) but if they get intrusive I just stop accessing that site. When you access a site you are asking to see the content that the content provider is offering - if that includes ads, then so be it. It is not up to the network to stop portions of it, and if they do then the content providers should be within their rights to refuse to serve their content.

      Of course, this only applies when the ads aren't spraying malicious code around.

      I am wondering why the ad I'm being served right now on this site is for $800 off a John Deere sit-on lawn mower though. I'm in the UK, I hate gardening, and I have a relatively small garden so anything that you can take $800 off would be a bit excessive. If this is targeted advertising it is hilariously bad targeting.

  26. Luiz Abdala

    Am I paying for ads?

    I have a 2GB monthly mobile access plan. I wouldn't be surprised if all the ads loaded made up 50% or more of the traffic that I wanted to see on the pages.

    If I go beyond 2GB, the bandwidth is cut, or the whole web access is blocked altogether, unless I pay more for it.

    If they can identify the bandwidth consumed by the ad, they can charge the marketer, and NOT THE CONSUMER, for said ad. But not block it entirely.

    And I get my whole 2GB monthly limit consumed only on stuff that I wanted to see, even if the raw traffic flow was larger. Does it makes sense now?

  27. hollymcr

    Micropayments

    The solution to ads seems very simple to me, so I'm surprised this hasn't been done.

    You (end user) create an account with ad provider, and pre-pay something like £10 (or $10). Ad provider places cookie on your PC (they're good at that!).

    When you visit a site that uses said provider, it sees cookie and bills you a small amount (say 0.1p) out of the pre-payment, which goes (after commission) to the site owner. Then, instead of serving you an advert it serves you an empty box of the same size (so as not to screw up the content), or more likely a box saying "You have just donated to this site, thank you!".

    As part of the contract with the ad provider, no tracking info is supplied to the site owner. They do, however, receive an income towards hosting and operating the site.

    If you don't sign up, or you do but your account balance drops to zero, you get adverts as usual.

    Easy to implement (site owners do nothing, they just display ads as normal, except some users won't see them but the site will still earn revenue).

    What's wrong with this model? (Or should I have patented it?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Micropayments

      Nothing beats FREE, and one of the main reasons people keep surfing the Net is because they don't have to pay hundreds of bills to get there. Just as people will tolerate clogged traffic on freeways rather than stop and go at toll booths. At some point, the whole exercise gets too irksome and people blow you off. Microtransactions historically cross the line for many, especially (in your model) if it's forced like a toll booth.

    2. andykb3

      Re: Micropayments

      In theory, great. In practice there are a few questions:

      Would you trust the ad agencies with your credit card and email address?

      Would I have to pay for every device I use (in my case that's laptop, mobile, tablet, work computer plus I'm responsible for my kids gadgetry too)?

      Would you trust that they wouldn't do tracking anyway?

      Ethically it's questionable, You'd be forcing the advertisers to concentrate only on those who can't afford to pay the blocking fee, so I suspect there be loads of payday loans being advertised etc.

      There is also the risk that the content providers would be encouraged to make their ads more intrusive just to push users to pay to avoid them.

      Personally I'd be happy to pay a nominal fee to the 4 or 5 websites I regularly use.

    3. teledon1

      Re: Micropayments

      Micropayments are the solution.

      However, the user shouldn't pay the ad providers. The user should pay the content provider for the article. So when you browse to a site like The Register, and click on a specific article, you should have a choice:

      1. Pay. Say, a penny to view the article ad free, or

      2. Don't pay, and get the article with ads

      That being said, There need to be some other conditions:

      1. We need a micropayment system and wallet that you can refill from your bank account.

      2. The micropayment wallet should not have any personal information in it, and only dispense payments under your direct command.

      3. The price to read an article ad-free is required to be displayed before access to the article.

      4. The required micropayment must be paid before viewing the content ad-free.

      5. You should be able to set your personal limit on content charges. A warning should display when a particular article is asking for more than your article limit.

      6. You should be able to see a running total of your ongoing charges at all times.

      As a general web philosophy, the user should always have the option to pay for ad-free content, or to accept ads as an option to receive content for free.

  28. rcp27

    We crossed the rubicon when ISP side spam filters happened about 12 years ago or so. There was an outcry at the time that an email provider should have a duty to give you any and all email sent to you without adulteration. We then found how much better life is without email spam that we have quietly forgotten about all the outcry at the time. Advertising on websites is the same as email spam. It's bandwidth being used to deliver content to me that I don't want to receive.

  29. FuzzyWuzzys
    Thumb Up

    That's the money shot!

    “customers should not pay data charges to receive adverts. These should be costs borne by the advertiser.”

    Well said indeed.

  30. andykb3

    User choice

    What's to stop the content providers (or tech companies) setting up a system which denies (or limits) the amount of their content that a user who blocks ads (either through ad-blocker or network level) can receive? In an ideal world this should be on a site-by-site basis.

    The user can choose between receiving the content or avoiding ads.

    The content providers will see reduced visitors, but they will know that their visitors are amenable to seeing ads as the price for seeing the content (and they can offer a paid-for ad-free version)

    If the content provider gets too aggressive with their ads, they will lose customers.

    Personally I have no issue with a reasonable level of ads on sites (and apps) I don't pay for, but I'll simply not bother with them if the ads get too intrusive.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: User choice

      They do that right now. It's called an ad wall. It blocks you from seeing the content unless you seeing the ad which opens the appropriate link.

      Thing is, if everything starts going behind compulsory ad walls, people may start saying, "Sod this!" and leave. They won't pay for it, but they won't put up with the ads either because they expect true practitioners of their arts to provide for their content out of pocket.

  31. LaunchpadBS
    Joke

    But how am I supposed to know what I must buy or what celebrities had the most shocking weddings without being told whenever I click on ANY link in my mobile browser??? Boring, now I'll have to be productive :(

  32. gyaku_zuki

    The writer answers his own question about net neutrality, stating that "throttling content = bad, throttling ads = good".

    Spot on... the point about net neutrality is not messing with the INTENDED content. Not the unintended weeds that you are forced to accept along with. I didn't ask for the advert - I asked for the article.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ad networks fault

    I used to have a laid back approach to ads, I justified that I was reading a lot of content for free and that the content creators needed revenue. Fair enough.

    Until the ad networks started getting greedy, forwarding to casino pages, on mobile prompting me to download dodgy apps, on download pages having several dozen download button style ads. That's when I knocked it on the head and installed ad blockers on all devices.

    So to me, they have themselves to blame.

  34. MrTuK

    Who is going to complain ?

    Like someone else mentioned I too have seen the internet change so much from an information heaven to a glorified advertising medium that makes it almost impossible to remain sane using it.

    In the UK (to inform people from the USA and elsewhere) we have a several free to view TV channels (we all have to pay a TV license if we want to watch TV) of which some are have no adverts called the BBC and other channels which do have adverts. The BBC channels are great for watching movies as no adverts interrupting your enjoyment of watching a movie, but the bad side is that very few of the latest and greatest movies are shown and they tend to repeat the movies they have acquired over the years - very annoying ! Also another caveat is that no one wants to pay this TV license of £145.50 per year !

    This is now becoming a problem as people watching TV programs online do not require a TV license so more and more people are opting out and watching TV online rather than live. So if this trend continues, the only way they can continue this business model is to increase the TV license fee so encouraging more people to opt out and eventually this will mean either they won't be able to provide a TV service or they will have to earn revenue via adverts and/or go the pay per view route !

    With the internet users have to pay to access this medium either at home with broadband or on phones using a data allowance, with home as its tends to be reasonable quick and usually unlimited data (although not everyone has this) adverts are not usually an issue except the malware ones, but for mobile internet being quite slow compared to home broadband and there isn't as far as I know an unlimited data usage plan available at a reasonable price adverts do two bad things, they reduce your data allowance and slow down your mobile internet experience.

    Now I have heard arguments for both sides, although most arguments in favour of allowing adverts were sarcastically done. The question to be resolved is whether adverts at least for the moment should be allowed on mobile networks, like Three are proposing to eliminate. The advertising companies are not going to lose to much sleep over losing customers on the Three network, its only if other networks like Vodafone etc follow suit and why wouldn't they if the Three network had a better internet experience then people would flock to Three, so it's a given that all mobile network operators would do the same as Three and then this could also go worldwide !

    Ok, lets think about the El Reg, I would be surprised if their only income is from Advertising alone, surely they get monies for reviewing products, maybe they could have a link at the bottom of a review, maybe with a small discount by using it to go straight to the seller, this way El Reg readers get their discount and the seller knows who has pointed a customer to their site and if a sale has happened then El Reg should get a payment !

    As long as El Reg gives a 100% unbias review then they keep their good rep and El Reg readers continue to use the site.

    For companies like Intel and AMD etc, Article and reviews or whatever concerning their products won't directly give them a sale, but I'm sure that they would want a review on a good site like this rather than no review, so monies could possibly be gathered. General IT news is what gets El Reg readers using this site so the rest of the content would continue.

    Now lets be honest here, not all websites would be directly effected, Government sites won't for a start, most sites providing car's won't directly, except that they won't be advertising on thousands of others sites !

    Mind you Google would possible go tit's up !

    But jokes aside I think the Internet would be a nicer place for mobile internet users !

    But I think home broadband usage should stay as it is, some will use adblockers but not everybody, just make sure you have a good AV software installed against malware !

    Sorry to everyone for going on so long !

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't really buy the whole "net neutrality" argument.

    It seems to me that it's the same idea as paying a flat fee to have post delivered to your house.

    No matter how much post or how many parcels each person receives, everyone would pay the same flat receiver fee, but anyone can send anything for free.

    Obviously, the end result would be that masses of junk mail would be sent (since the companies wouldn't have to pay to ship it), and everyone would buy everything from mail order companies (since the service is already being paid for). And so the service would get more and more expensive, and at the same time it would get overloaded.

    This is, of course, what's happening with the internet - everyone is using video streaming, since it's "already paid for", and we're all being swamped with ads. Meanwhile it gets slower and slower.

    In the long run, moving to more of a "sender pays" model, provided it's done fairly (common carrier rules), can only end up making the internet work better for everyone.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "In the long run, moving to more of a "sender pays" model, provided it's done fairly (common carrier rules), can only end up making the internet work better for everyone."

      Don't know if you CAN make it fair. Consider private networks that then connect to the Internet at different places. A system like you describe will give an advantage to companies like Google with internal infrastructure because that means they can touch the public Internet only as they need to, avoiding the "sender pays" fees associated with it. They can leverage this advantage to undercut the competition. Sort of like railroads in the past that had their own timber plots.

  36. Robin 3

    Encryption

    How long until google provide a handy library that puts ads into your app via an encrypted channel.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Encryption

      Won't help as people can still detect its source address. No, the only way to make ads unavoidable is to wrap the desired content in the ad or inserting the ad into the app or page inline, making the two part and parcel and inseparable. Then you're left with a "Take It or Leave It" scenario.

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