back to article Ad blocking made Google throw its toys out of the pram – and now even more control is being taken from us

Google makes its money from being the world's middle man for online advertising. It's kind of a tech company too, but in a good-enough sort of way rather than the "hey, we invented the transistor" sort of way. It doesn't do anything nobody else can do, except leverage its search dominance into advertising dominance. No …

  1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    In a past far far away

    I sold targeted advertising for probably the UK biggest print publication. It was literally nothing but ads, and the punters paid good money for it. The advertisers paid good money to place ads in it. What ads I can't block, I honestly never look at. What a waste of time and money, and I fully agree there must be a better way.

    Ps Auto Trader, did what it said on the cover.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: In a past far far away

      Bringing willing buyers and willing sellers together. The trouble with "targeted" and almost all other online ads is that the recipient isn't a willing buyer, most of thetime not even an intending buyer. The advertisers are being conned into parting with good money, the recipients are being pissed off and less likely to buy later but the advertising industry is coining it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In a past far far away - targetted ads

        I keep getting ads for New Zealand Government education loans. I'd love to know how much antiSocial Media charges the Kiwis for those ads since (a) I'm in the UK and (b) I don't know *anybody* who lives in NZ and could legally use this information!

        They must have borrowed von Braun's targeting systems - "I aim for the stars, but sometimes I hit London."

        1. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

          Re: In a past far far away - targetted ads

          The New Zealand Student Loans ads are a special case, they are indeed tragetting people in the UK, because that is where a large number of Studen Loan defaulters hide, and the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department want to intimidate them paying back the money. Hmm, nice legs, shame for them to be broken, eh? Personally, I think the NZ IRD would achive better result by engaging some local talent, like the Piranha Brothers for instance, who could collect the cash for an appropriate finders' fee.

          1. Old69

            Re: In a past far far away - targetted ads

            "[...] and the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department want to intimidate them paying back the money.

            A guy from NZ became quite successful in a career elsewhere. He decided to repay his student loan - even though it wasn't required in his particular situation. Apparently it was heavy going persuading the relevant authorities to accept it outside their normal collection rules.

          2. Yes Me Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: In a past far far away - targetted ads

            "the NZ IRD would achive better result by engaging some local talent, like the Piranha Brothers"

            Even better, they could have launched a worldwide pandemic and closed the NZ border to everybody except returning expats, many of whom might regard paying back their student loan as better than dying in an overcrowded NHS hospital.

            (Needed an icon for "Sick Joke Alert")

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: In a past far far away

      Well, Computer Shopper was the same here in the US... it was a 1/2" thick wodge of ads, but EVERYONE was in it, and you could find anything even remotely computer related in there. It was like Shenzen on your table.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: In a past far far away

        > Computer Shopper

        Well, that's different: You'd buy that because you're planning to buy something computer-related, so the ads are actually helpful. I could even go so far as to say you bought it for the ads, especially in a time when you couldn't just do a quick Internet search to find who offers what for how much money.

        Now imagine buying an issue of "Computer Shopper" full of ads on hair curlers, industrial feeding systems for pig farms, baby formula, mining assay companies, boat rigging, incontinence underwear, or gardening tools. There is a slight change one of those themes might be somehow relevant for you, but it's definitely not what you bought that magazine for.

        That's (one) problem of the web: The more "targeted" ads are, the more irrelevant they are.

        1. jtaylor Bronze badge

          Re: In a past far far away

          Now imagine buying an issue of "Computer Shopper" full of ads on hair curlers, industrial feeding systems for pig farms, baby formula, mining assay companies, boat rigging, incontinence underwear, or gardening tools.

          Bit of a wild digression, but your description reminded me of Spag's, a quirky store in Worcester MA. It was sort of a warehouse style place, where they would arrange pallets of goods in aisles and cut the tops off the boxes so you could see and take what was there. It was a bit chaotic: you'd see gardening gloves, canned tuna, light bulbs, plastic wastebaskets, jelly beans, and car antifreeze all in a row, because that's just where they found space as they unloaded the trucks. Speaking of trucks, that was their warehouse: rows of trailers parked in the lot beside the main building, sometimes for weeks or longer.

          Being able to navigate the rabbit warren was a rite of passage to become a "local." And Spag himself was larger than life, with a heart to match.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: In a past far far away

          The BT yellow pages are a good example of how not to advertise. Minuscule print and you have to guess the required classification of a business that supplies what you want.

        3. AK565

          Re: In a past far far away

          I have a gay, Greek Orthodox aquaintance whose bi-lingual Greek&English FB page is constantly bombarded with adverts for "real muslim brides".

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: In a past far far away

        Actually, back in its heyday of the '90's, Computer Shopper was a 1-inch thick wodge of ads. Wonderful, glorious ads filled with anything and everything you could possibly want or need for your next computer fix.

        The 1/2-inch era was after the fall of the big DIY industry.

        1. DMcDonnell

          Re: In a past far far away

          The 1/2 thick demize of Computer Shooper began when the original Titusville Florida publisher sold the magazine to Ziff-Davis. ZD pretty much destroyed it in less than 15 months.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Re: In a past far far away

            UK Computer Shopper - Denis Publishing - sadly passed away last month. Will be sorely missed.

    3. Medical Cynic

      Re: In a past far far away

      Ps Auto Trader, did what it said on the cover.

      I never bought Exchange and Mart because it was full of ads!!

  2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Article» ...although why no home router makers have put ad and track filtering in their products is slightly mystifying.

    Maybe, just maybe, the reason for this is as hinted by the investigations & law-suits from the US DoJ, namely that Google (and others) are leveraging their weight and fat checkbooks to ensure that said devices do not have these things built in.

    1. John Sturdy

      Turris Omnia has a blocker

      I've recently bought a Turris Omnia router, and that has an optional ad blocker.

      I haven't turned the blocker on yet, as I boycott (rather unsystematically) anything I remember having seen advertised at me, so it's nice to let the ads have the opposite of the intended effect (and ad targetting, if effective, means the things I don't buy because I've seen them advertised are likelier to be ones that I otherwise would have bought).

    2. Andy 97

      Get a Raspberry Pi and install Pi-Hole.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        > Get a Raspberry Pi and install Pi-Hole.

        Why the hell doesn't OPENWRT have Pi-Hole functionality in it?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Write it. It's not complicated. OpenWRT has OPKG, so a user can install it if you write it and put it in the repository. I'm sure you can find people to support the codebase with you.

          To answer your question though, the primary reason that people don't is that routers running OpenWRT often have very little storage and/or memory. A lot of them have 16-64 MB of flash, which isn't very big when you also need to store the firmware image in it, and they have 64-256 MB of RAM, where they need to store packets and information about connections, so that fills fast too. PiHole works by having a bunch of blocklists stored internally. Sure, they get updated by pulling from the web, but they don't get pulled in their entirety each boot. The Pi can store those on a larger SD card and also always has at least 512 MB of RAM to cache them. Furthermore, most people who choose to install OpenWRT already know enough to use something else as a PiHole, so the size of the userbase isn't dramatically increased by making them both run in the same place. None of these issues make it impossible to do it, and writing the functionality might be worth the effort to someone, but those are the reasons it hasn't been worth it just yet as far as I know.

          1. slimshady76

            There's the adblock package in the OpenWRT world, which does pretty much the same as PiHole. I'm using it on an old, cheap TP-LINK Archer C59 with great success. It isn't as good as PiHole when dealing with YouTube's embedded ads, but for general web browsing it makes the experience much more palatable.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              PiHole isn't very good when it comes to YouTube's embedded ads.

              1. Hirotori

                Most products struggle with YouTube ads to be fair. They are using the same endpoints as the actual videos so blocking them blocks the video. You can try putting a . after youtube.com i.e. youtube.com. which stops the ad playing but also signs you out.

                I would rather have PiHole than not. It takes about 30 minutes to install (I had an old Celeron machine lying about that I install Debian on) and about 1-2 hours of blocking/unblocking anything that slips through the cracks e.g. many of the lists block the referral sites that Quidco and Topcashback use.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe the home router makers have done but the products mysteriously never turn up in Google searches...

    4. tinkler

      The pcWRT router has an ad blocker. With various options to whitelist domains and pause on demand when your page won't load with ad blocked.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      why no home router makers have put ad and track filtering in

      Probably because, if it's like most home routers, they would write the code once, and its blocklist would contain entries that were useful in 2001 like "ads.yahoo.com", and then they would never update the list...

  3. Zebo-the-Fat

    I hate ads, never watch live TV, record and skip past the ads, ad blocker on my browser. I don't see that I am taking money from the advertisers as I never buy their tat anyway.

    1. Joe Drunk

      This

      I'm not stealing anything by blocking ads. All ads are lies. All advertisers will use any trick or blatantly lie to get you to part with your money. You simply can't trust any ad. PERIOD.

      I block all ads and unwanted scripts. I say it with pride.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I don't see that I am taking money from the advertisers"

      You're saving them money. Otherwise they're wasting it by paying the ad networks to "target" you.

      1. Finnisher

        AdNauseam, no where to find in Chrome "Store" but available for Firefox (and hackable for Crome/Edgium etc.). Let'em bleed ad money...and meanwhile hide your true webself under a junk ad pile.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe if the adverts weren't horrid

      people might be more willing to not block them. I'm not in the market for a new car, nor have I ever been, but I'd watch Honda's "Cog" advert (the Rube Goldberg "Isn't it nice when things just work?" one).

  4. DavCrav Silver badge

    "the giant's kitchens have pots full of frogs on a low heat."

    Can I just point out that frogs aren't stupid. They jump out of the pot sharpish when it gets too warm.

    1. Sceptic Tank Bronze badge
      IT Angle

      This I have never tried. But how do they get through the lid?

      1. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

        They stand on each other and the one at the top pokes a finger up and lifts the pressure relief valve from the inside. The frogs then leave the pressure cooker very rapidly.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          From the Goon Show long ago.

          Bluebottle: Eccles, stand on my shoulders and pull me up.

          Sounds of miscellaneous scuffling and grunting.

          Eccles: I'd like to see them do this on television.

          1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge
            Pint

            If I remember correctly, Eccles and Bluebottle were trying to reach a manhole far above them so that they could escape from a roman sewer running under the Appian way. The sewer being called the Appia Pipe.

            Pure Milligan genius, putting a visual gag on radio whilst also slipping a bit of squaddie humour past Auntie's good taste enforcers.

  5. Tony W

    Nothing wrong with ads ...

    The tracking giants like to say that we are trying to get things for free that we should be paying for, but that's not true. I think most people don't object to seeing ads as a way of paying for a service. I have quite a few apps on my phone that give me the alternative of free with ads or paid without, and quite often I accept the ads, even though the sums are usually quite small and I could afford to pay. On web sites, the fact that the ads render some sites very slow and hard to use is an annoyance, but if the site owner likes it like that, it should be up to them.

    The real objection to ads on web sites and social media apps is not the ads but what goes along with them: the relentless tracking, the sale of information on our likes and habits to whoever wants to pay for it, and the risk of malware. These are the reasons I block ads on most sites by default.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

      I block ads on Facebook (and everywhere else), but in the ongoing war of adblocker vs adblocker-blocker, there are days when the ads get through. The vast majority of them are extremely poorly targeted. I wonder how many seventy year old men are likely to click on a big ad promoting Botox treatment for their lips or for the performance report for a school at the other end of the country? The ads are so irrelevant I just scroll past them all. Besides I've never bought anything from an ad on the internet and never will - I simply don't trust products and services hawked in this way. If I want to buy something I do my own research.

      1. Horridbloke

        Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

        "are poorly targeted"

        That's good, it means your blocking regime works and the ad network doesn't recognise you.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

      Been saying that for years. The prime example is the Metro. I'm sure pretty much everyone who's ever taken public transport has read it at one time or another and it's entirely ad supported.

      However, there is nothing malignant about the Metro's advertising. You ignore it, or you read it, it matters not. On computers, and particularly on mobile devices, advertising is aggressively in your face a lot of the time, autoplays videos so takes from your metered connection, and is often either tracking you or trying to infect you with malware or both. The advertising is also very poorly regulated so it is not uncommon to see adverts for things that children should not be seeing. Vaping products and gambling sites being some of the more benign examples of that.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

        Vaping products and gambling sites being some of the more benign less malign examples of that.

        FTFY

    3. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

      I have a few rules for web ads before I will allow them. These rules are not unreasonable because they when they were followed the internet went from novelty to necessity. If they worked once, it can work again.

      My rules for advertisers: (1) Absolutely no tracking, no exception. (2) Absolutely no JavaScript, Flash, Java, or anything similar, no exception. As a bonus, this rule would also eliminate malvertising. (3) The ad may not cover all or part of the screen, nor may it be a pop-up or pop-under ad. (4) Absolutely no autoplay video or audio, except when I click on a clear link to a video or audio clip. Few things are more annoying than when are trying to read something and a video starts to play. (5) All advertisements must be clear and distinct; they may not look like the content of the page.

      1. Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

        Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

        ...and may not substantially delay page-loading. That's my *first* criterion for blak-holing.

      2. AK565

        Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

        May I add one?

        Movement. I'll be reading a largely text screen and this random advert that was a still, becomes a vid. It completely halts my flow. More often than not I simply nuke the page and move on.

    4. Spanners Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

      I mentally filter out ads - on screen or on the street. I just do not read them. I have had colleagues ask me if I saw such and such ann advert on TV. The answer is generally no.

      I do watch once or twice the special Christmas adverts for the likes of John Lewis, Sainsbury etc. They are meant to be entertaining but I tend to ignore the rest. If they pop up on YouTube - that is a good time to put the kettle on. If they pop up in the middle of the thing, I always skip them.

      1. Helcat

        Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

        Good luck skipping adds on You Tube these days: I see the 'Add in x' message counting down to the start of the add with dread: Some last 5 seconds meaning the next add plays without me getting an option to skip. That one lasts 5 seconds and I'm on the 3rd one...

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

          I have uBlock Origin, Improve YouTube, SponsorBlock, and YouTube NonStop. Between those four, it seems to work most of the time. PiHole might help with some of the overlays and other annoyances, but mostly doesn't do anything.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

            Can confirm that Pi-hole and the browser plugin uBlock Origin do a good job at keeping youtube ads out of sight. Youtube videos on iPhone and AppleTV are 100% unwatchable because of the loud ads.

        2. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Good luck skipping adds on You Tube these days

          You don't need luck, just noScript and UBlock+. You get pauses where the ads should be, but only for 5 seconds.

          Mind you, this is playing a youtube playlist while logged out of Google, so the only domain allowed is youtube.com. If you want to log in you'll need to allow gstatic.com and google.com, maybe that's where the ads get in....

          Could try allowing google and gstatic until you've got your access cookie then disabling them again once you're in.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

          Or I use an extension (ViDL) in the browser which downloads the youtube video without any adds. Works a treat

        4. ckm5

          Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

          I use Ublock Origin and AdBlock for YouTube on my desktop - haven't seen an ad in years other than some homepage banner style ads. On my iPad, I'm always shocked at the quantity of ads and how disruptive they are to the user experience....

          1. Gavin Park Weir

            Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

            Its a bit weird how bad the ads on YouTube are - I mostly watch on my phone. Terrible targeting.

            Given I have never clicked a youtube ad maybe they are getting desperate? Women's panty liners, baby formula are just two in the last 3 days which are so massively inappropriate and unsuccessful.

            Perhaps the algorithm has accidentally developed a sense of humour?

            Seriously, advertisers should pay for success (clicks) only. That way all the spam would earn Google et all nothing and targeting would improve.

            I might end up having to pay for youtube (never clicking anything) or lose it

            1. ExampleOne

              Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

              Seriously, advertisers should pay for success (clicks) only. That way all the spam would earn Google et all nothing and targeting would improve.

              There are advertising networks that operate on this basis: guess what, they need tracking as it is required for attribution.

              There are also advertising campaigns that fundamentally don't function on a "pay per purchase" model - any advertising campaign that is build around brand building rather than hawking a specific product is an obvious candidate.

            2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

              I might end up having to pay for youtube (never clicking anything) or lose it

              Never EVER pay them. It's like paying extortionists, and only encourages them.

              Besides, don't want to give them any money to underwrite their dead-end agenda.

        5. DMcDonnell

          Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

          I do not use a web browser to watch youtube and I never see any ads. Hint: copy the video URL into VLC media Player

        6. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

          Youtube has ads, you say?

          No, sorry - uBlock Origin, Ghostery, Privacy Badger and more keep all that stuff away and allow me to spend more time going down the youtube rabbit hole and remaining non-productive.

        7. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

          I have a *REALLY* simple way of avoiding adverts in YouTube videos; just watch videos that YT finds offensive to their extreme-leftist socialist agenda. They'll demonetize them right quick (although I notice they ALSO put their obnoxious little banner message under *ANY* conservative-leaning video, obnoxious little shits that YT are).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

        "They are meant to be entertaining [...]"

        Bread and Circuses. Advertisers know that one that "entertains" will be more successful as it is going for the emotion trigger. They also know it probably costs a lot more to produce such an advert.

        I find myself flipping between Classic FM, BBC Radio 4, ..and the off switch. Triggered by crass adverts and programme trailers.

        As someone once said "No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.".

        2020 has proved that in spades.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep on AdBlocking

    Anything that can be done to take google down a few million pegs then great. Bring it on.

    I'll carry on :-

    - Not using Google for searches (google.com is blocked at my firewall)

    - Not using Google services except where they are needed to make sites work

    - Not using Chrome or any browser based on Chrome

    - Blocking all ads no matter where they come from.

    {I would pay a small amount to keep this site going}

    Google is evil from end to end. Mind you Facebook is just as bad.

    I hate all advertising and especially ads that are apparently targetted at me. I got fed up with ads for things that 20 somethings might want when I'm in my sixties. Target my ass and I'll do a Rudi 'leaking hair dye' Guilanni back at you. (he farted in a televised hearing)

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      - Not using Chrome or any browser based on Chrome

      I use Brave when I use Jitsi (I believe that that is safe), firefox for everything else

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Keep on AdBlocking

        per Wiki: Brave is a free and open-source web browser developed by Brave Software, Inc. based on the Chromium web browser.

        Before you start screaming, Chromium is NOT ungoogled by default, so...

        1. Zolko Bronze badge

          Re: Keep on AdBlocking

          "Chromium is NOT ungoogled by default"

          that's why I use "ungoogled Chromium". Although all I can do is hope that it does what it's stating it does.

          1. captain veg

            Re: Keep on AdBlocking

            What, you don't build it yourself from source?

            -A.

    2. Ol'Peculier

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      +1 for a very prescient post!

    3. Tree
      Thumb Up

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      I agree with your options as the way to go. I

      avoid Gurgle as much as possible. They really are evil now.. I do not want to be tracked! They are even practicing censorship. Once I searched my hard drive and found everything Google, Doubleclick, etc. Computer stopped working.

      Another hint: try using Spyware Blaster. It helps prevent as well as remove trackers.

    4. CrackedNoggin

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      >- Not using Chrome or any browser based on Chrome

      "“In order to refocus the Firefox organization on core browser growth through differentiated user experiences, we are reducing investment in some areas such as developer tools, internal tooling, and platform feature development, and transitioning adjacent security/privacy products to our New Products and Operations team, ...”

      [ https://www.theregister.com/2020/08/11/mozilla_staff_layoffs_products_revenue/ ]

      I fear soon, you won't have any choice.

      1. Lomax
        Alert

        Re: Keep on AdBlocking

        Would you buy Firefox if it was a paid for product? I would. In a heartbeat. ~€50 seems reasonable. I've already donated to the Mozilla Foundation - twice in fact, but I would have no hesitation to buy a license if they switched to that model. It's by far the most heavily used software on my computers, and I've paid hundreds of Euros for some of the other software I use.

        1. AK565

          Re: Keep on AdBlocking

          Opera was my browser back in the days it was a Norwegian product. It was so superior to the other available browsers I happily paid US$38/year for it.

        2. Twilight

          Re: Keep on AdBlocking

          I would happily pay for Firefox if it was a good product. I used to use Firefox long ago then switched as it got worse and worse. I've kept up (broadly) on Firefox news. A year or two ago, I wanted to switch away from Chrome due to memory usage and some other issues. I tried Firefox for a few weeks and found that it used almost twice as much memory as Chrome for the same tabs with fewer addons installed (so I gave up and went back to Chrome).

          1. Lomax
            Thumb Down

            Re: Keep on AdBlocking

            I'm running 78.4.0esr and recently closed the 1583 tabs I had accumulated - not to free up memory, but to free myself from them! I have no performance issues whatsoever with Firefox on my i7 8gb machine, but maybe that's because I have NoScript installed. I do have a lot of issues with Google though, and simply cannot use any of their products. I would rather crawl over broken glass switch to any other browser than switch to Chrome.

      2. ckm5

        Re: Keep on AdBlocking

        Mozilla still makes over $400m/year - if that is not enough to keep a browser going, there is something wrong....

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Keep on AdBlocking

          Ironically most of that is from google for setting them as the default search engine on a new install of Firefox. You are of course free to change that....

    5. Dog11

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      > - Not using Chrome or any browser based on Chrome

      Pale Moon. It's a fork from Firefox. And the GUI doesn't keep changing..

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      "I got fed up with ads for things that 20 somethings might want when I'm in my sixties."

      An old person can have everything a young one can - it just costs more.

    7. Tree
      Thumb Up

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      I agree with your options as the way to go.

      Avoid Gurgle as much as possible. They really are evil now.. Do not track me, Bro'! They are even practicing censorship of good guys.

      Once I searched my hard drive and found and deleted everything Google, Doubleclick, etc. Computer stopped working. It was all linked together like mycelium of a fungus spread into my drive.

      Another hint: : Try using Spyware Blaster. It helps prevent as well as remove trackers.

    8. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Keep on AdBlocking

      Anything that can be done to take google down a few million pegs then great. Bring it on.

      a) use NoScript as often as possible

      b) set up a browser context where you automatically purge ALL history, cookies, etc. when the browser closes for anything that you need script to actually view the content. Then "flush" when you're done.

      c) if "they" track by IP address it's unavoidable, except when you use Tor...

      d) make sure your Linux (or FreeBSD) machine announces itself as generic windows machine in the browser info thingy (this may require a re-compile, or a plugin, depending). In short pick something that's very common so you're not "pegged" by it.

      in any case, on POSIX machines I always set up X11 so that I can use the DiSPLAY environment variable and log in as "a special user" when browsing ANYTHING (that I don't explicitly trust) that uses script.

      It is also possible to erase Chrome history, by deleting files in ~/.cache/chromium and ~/.config/chromium, but you have to be careful which '.config' files you purge if you don't want to get a default config every time. YMMV and experiment, because a LOT of "local" stored data (that identifies you) ends up in ~/.config ...

      in any case, assume you ARE being tracked, then do what you can to frustrate it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Misses the point

    You can't escape advertising. Certainly ad blocker might make you think you can, but you really can't. It's a dreadfully blunt tool and if its adoption ever grows into something significant - which doesn't appear likely - adverts will become something you can't block.

    Legislating internet advertising is no easy task either. There are many diverse formats and channels in which to spend advertising money - not to mention the fact that the marketing money powers large swathes of the economy.

    As with many things in life, technology won't save you. Only education will. When marketeers understand how the internet works and where their budgets really go, that's when advertising will improve.

    Until then, how do you support the websites you rely on?

    1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Misses the point

      Until then, how do you support the websites you rely on?

      I have a 'premium' subscription to a national newspaper; this means I get the dead tree version and all the content of the web site.

      The problem I have is that they still fling page upon page of ads at me even though I am paying hundreds of pounds a year for that subscription.

      That website gets the Firefox + NoScript treatment (the only domains allowed are the ones that actually let me sign in).

      I did an experiment to allow all the ads and scripts one day.

      The result: the laptop (which is no slouch - dual core 2.4GHz 7th gen I7, 8GB RAM) got maxed out with almost 100% CPU utilisation- the fan started up almost immediately which is unusual unless I am running something such as a circuit simulation in LTSpice.

      I took a look at all the domains running scripts and it was so long I had to scroll down three times to see all of them. It was also interesting to see that the scripts listed only on the home page is quite short (and virtually all blocked anyway now) so that means that a script from a third party domain is calling other scripts from other third party domains and so forth.

      The other issue I have with this is quite simple: ads in the print edition are subject (quite reasonably) to some due diligence, but how do they do that with an ad flung from $DEITY knows where and scripts loaded on the fly from third party domains? My view is that it is impossible to effectively do.

      An observation; running scripts directly from third party domains is stupid, in my view.

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Misses the point

        I too signed up for a subscription, innocently thinking that I would be free of adverts and thus tracking.

        But no! It turns out that I as a subscriber was of even more interest and I was tracked both by the paper and by the trackers they let their 'trusted affiliates' run. So I now never log in, let all my shielding apps protect me (uBlock Origin etc etc) and treat them like the enemy. And of course I won't renew my subscription.

        They didn't do enough research to understand why some people would subscribe, and what would make them hopping angry.

        1. Palpy

          Re: Subscriptions: watch out for that.

          My Dear One subscribed to the NYT online edition, then during cost-cutting a couple of months later she tried to unsubscribe. After multiple attempts and customer service line conversations ("We can't find an account under that name" but we're still billing your credit card every month), I had enough. I filed complaints in writing and online with, I think, five different agencies. And mailed paper copies to several of the top brass in the legal and subscriptions departments, plus the publisher, along with explanatory letters. Surprise! The NYT customer service people contacted us, canceled the "nonexistent" account and refunded us the fees they had charged us.

          But beware a subscription with autopay, unless you truly believe you will never, never, never want to cancel it. Just sayin'.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Subscriptions: watch out for that.

            But beware a subscription with autopay, unless you truly believe you will never, never, never want to cancel it. Just sayin'.

            For a brief time there were CC companies providing on-time-usage credit card numbers. Even if a company was hiding their autorenewal opt-out (on the rare occasions where they allowed you to do so), they'd never be able to auto-bill you. I can guess just how *THAT* convenient service got shut down.

        2. AK565

          Re: Misses the point

          Exactly! If I use the free version I expect to see adverts. But when I pay for a subscription I expect to see on mbre than one static ad per page but much, much more importantly I expect not to be asked, told, or offered anything! Leave me the fuck alone if I'm paying a subscription for your services!

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Misses the point

      Until then, how do you support the websites you rely on?

      How do we know? There is never an opportunity to find out... paywalls may or may not work - but if I pay for a service I expect to receive exactly zero adverts. I don't *care* if it's the 'traditional' way of doing things... online advertising is making unblocked (and un-script-blocked) internet viewing useless and dangerous.

      It seems increasingly that sites exist not to provide a service but are often simply click bait (with perhaps youtube, the daily mail, and any number of social networking sites as the main offenders) with perhaps a veneer of pretend utility splashed across them.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Misses the point

        @Neil - "but if I pay for a service I expect to receive exactly zero adverts"

        I think this sums up the problems with web (and TV) advertising. Most of us don't mind paying for stuff and still seeing adverts. Newspapers, buses, and the Tube all have adverts and I don't know anyone who complains about them. In the good old days people didn't mind ads in magazines until they started stuffing them with the loose flyers and having those very annoying stiff card pages for scratch'n'sniff. The internet's the same, I think; most people wouldn't mind a few adverts but it's the sheer volume and intrusiveness that pisses people off.

        1. tekHedd

          Re: Misses the point

          "Most of us don't mind paying for stuff and still seeing adverts."

          :P This is why we can't have nice things.

      2. David Nash

        Re: Misses the point

        I agree with these points, however, I would expect that the price you pay for the service has the advertising factored into it, so if there were a version with zero adverts it would cost more than the existing paid-for service that does have ads.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misses the point

      "Legislating internet advertising is no easy task either. "

      Quite. Deliberately bypassing a user's ad-blocker (or ignoring Do Not Track) is illegal in the EU (opinion of the advocate-general to the ECJ), and it's quite common ...

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Illegal in the EU

        As any BREXIT supporter will happily tell you...

        WE ARE NOT IN THE EU NOW...

        {Caps because Farage is all shouty shouty}

        so the ad sligers on this side of the Channel can basically do what the like.

        I'd like to dump all of them in a sewer which is where they belong but it ain't gonna happen but I can wish can't I?

        In the meantime, my list of companies that I will not buy from gets longer and longer due to more and more invasive advertising. Funny that.

        Google and friends can go [see icon]

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Illegal in the EU

          "so the ad slingers on this side of the Channel can basically do what the like."

          Actually, we currently have the UK Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) which echo the EU directive but will nevertheless not fall into abeyance on January 1st.

          The big problem in respect of server side tracking is that PECR applies to cookies or "any other type of technology to store or gain access to information on someone’s device" [ICO guide to PECR]. This narrow specification might well be sidestepped by server side tracking, so we may need new legislation.

          However there have for some time been murmurings in UK government circles to the effect that "excessive data protection harms business" so we might find our legislators weakening rather then strengthening protections once we're a "third country".

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Illegal in the EU

            > "excessive data protection harms business"

            Lobbying and old boys networks can (and will) do much to enlighten all those politicians who "have heard" of Internet... Money talks.

            Obviously making viewing ads mandatory is the ultimate goal, if only because ad-slingers could raise their prices accordingly. They just can't rush it, it will come slowly, with a lot of "think of the children"-type emotional blackmailing.

          2. Long John Silver
            Pirate

            Re: Illegal in the EU

            The point in your final paragraph is key to understanding much of what is going on around us today.

            "De-regulation" coupled with "privatisation" is the dominant political theme in the UK and USA as well as in other nations in reach of the US Marine Corps and similar 'assets'.

            It is a core belief of Neo-liberalism which was spun up by the Austrian School economist Hayek. It promotes a world where almost everything can be given monetary value and thereby 'monetised'. That which cannot yet be monetised is of no value and may be ignored when impinged upon by commercial considerations (e.g. as trivial 'externalities'). It is an ideology eagerly grasped by the misanthropic Ayn Rand amongst whose writings is a paean to 'selfishness'.

            Business schools now teach 'profit maximisation' as goal of business. This leads to differing consequences from profit optimisation which entails long term planning and sensitivity to the social context of operations. Short term measures lead to practices like rampant share buyback giving an illusion of growth and rich pickings for executives 'compensated' by receipt of shares in bonuses. There is an underlying ethos of 'the market always knows best'. More generally neo-liberal focus on de-regulation led to rampant abuses (e.g. gold price manipulation and issuance of 'derivatives' wrapping worthless assets) straying deeply into unethical and criminal territories. Hence the 2008/9 economic collapse and the second inevitable collapse triggered but not caused by Covid-19.

            Mrs Thatcher enthusiastically introduced neo-liberal thinking in UK politics. It was furthered with great fervour by Blair. It now is core belief of people controlling the Conservative and Labour parties and their backers in the shadows. Brexit is a natural step toward disentanglement from regulation having social purpose in addition to promotion of honest trade and commerce.

            In essence, market-capitalism is moribund and thought of benefits from mixed economy (societal as well as private ownerships) abandoned. Monetisation as primary goal is sterile. It destroys long term communal and cultural aspiration. Perhaps China is the only extant major economy with built in mechanism for far sightedness and recognition that markets must serve societal needs rather than the other way around. An intriguing blend of market-capitalism and Communism. It too doubtless harbours corruption, an unavoidable feature of human existence, but keeps it within bounds.

            Elsewhere, unbridled conglomerates and capitalism effectively dead because most capital and the opportunity it represents has been sequestrated within unprecedented concentrations of wealth, the outlook is bleak.

        2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Illegal in the EU

          Thanks to the EU regulation we are all forced to “accept cookies” on every bloody website.

          Whoever came up with this regulation had no clue what they were doing and the bureaucracy now will never remove that stupid rule.

    4. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Misses the point

      Supporting those websites is fairly easy, first register with them (contact them if there is no firect registration method) and then either pay for services they offer or else donate with a comment that you will support them if they maintain a ad/track free status. Statements like that from people who are giving them money will weigh much more heavily than vague 'we could earn you millions' from someone asking them to hand over money to implement focussed advertising

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Misses the point

        I'm not sure. The millions offer is coming from slick and determined salesmen who have nothing else to sell to make their quotas, the offers from mere punters.

    5. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Misses the point

      Until then, how do you support the websites you rely on

      I work in Tech and the only sites I rely on are vendors' (Enterprise) tech support ones for work. My clients are already paying license/maintenance fees.

      From my perspective (>50 year-old, male) I can't think of any sites that I truly rely upon, but then I appreciate that I may well be an outlier in the demographic here.

      (I also appreciate that without advertising, there would not be an El Reg for me to spout my turds of wisdom either - but I don't rely on El Reg either)

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Misses the point

      "When marketeers understand how the internet works and where their budgets really go, that's when advertising will improve."

      The advertising industry will work tirelessly to prevent this. Advertising is the only thing it sells and it will obfuscate to prevent the mugs buying it from understanding. The only thing that helps is blocking.

      The entire online advertising industry has fouled its nest and will have to live with the consequences.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misses the point

      Until then, how do you support the websites you rely on?

      I let venture capitalists do that, there's always another sucker willing to finance the Next Big Thing.

    8. Plest Bronze badge

      Re: Misses the point

      "Until then, how do you support the websites you rely on?"

      A lot of sites now have code that will spot an ad-blocker in use and deny the content until you disable it, and for those sites I simply don't bother using them.

      Advertising is to sell stuff, when I'm in the market for something I'll go looking for items on Amazon first, it's bit like the Gratton catalogue ( but without the bra pages all faded and thumbed! ) 'cos it has a ton of stuff and no ads. Amazon want me to buy so I only get shown stuff like the thing I'm looking for.

      I do not want to go looking for some GO example code snippets and be bombarded with ads for the latest mobile game or some other tat I'm not interested in, you're wasting your time and money 'cos the very last thing I'd ever click on would be an online ad box. I'd rather click on the links from Nigerian Princes who've sent me emails before I'd click on a advert on a webpage!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Misses the point

        Actually, Amazon does have ads, but they are for other products on Amazon, and are separate from the "suggestions based on your Amazon browsing history" suggestions. They are presumably paid for by either the product manufacturer or the Amazon marketplace retailer, look for "amazon-adsystem" in your NoScript blocklist. The more alarming thing is that these ads, and hence tracking (boo!), are now starting to appear on some other websites, too...

    9. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Misses the point

      Legislating internet advertising is no easy task either

      I think you're missing the point here. It's not the ads as much as the tracking and targeting of them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    although why no home router makers have put ad and track filtering in their products is slightly mystifying.

    The cynic in me would suggest that brown envelopes stuffed with $CURRENCY might be a factor.

    1. msknight Silver badge

      I would offer the opinion that they're cheap-ass. Looking after an ad-blocking list is likely hard work which costs money, and has to be pushed/pulled to the home firewall. Much possibility for things to go wrong.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        I would offer the opinion that they're cheap-ass. Looking after an ad-blocking list is likely hard work which costs money, and has to be pushed/pulled to the home firewall. Much possibility for things to go wrong.

        By that logic, Belkin home routers are PERFECT ad-blocking routers. They go about that by reaching complete failure state within two months.

  9. Fazal Majid

    Server-side tagging is about hiding tracking, not advertising

    It aims to work around third-party cookie blocking by riding on the coat-tails of the publisher’s first-party domain. Ads can’t be hidden by definition, and will find their way onto blocklists anyway.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Server-side tagging is about hiding tracking, not advertising

      lessee... if you're logging in with your Facebook or Twitter profile... with those F and T icons on that page, probably reading the cookies and identifying you anyway [whether you log in or not]. it's a fair bet they do, and phone home to momma that you went to that page.

      Best thing to do, do NOT access any *BAD* *BEHAVIOR* web site (like Fa[e]ceB[ook,arph] or Tw[a,i]tter) from the context of the browser you use most often, and erase ALL of their tracking cookies and locally stored data, however you need to accomplish this. Reserve that for TRULY sandboxed browsers. see my earlier comment on how you can mitigate this using the DISPLAY environment variable in X11 environments, logging in as a special user where all history is FLUSHED when you exit the browser...

  10. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    "...the stuff that reaches only the right people is worth far more..."

    The problems with ads that "reach only the right people" is that the people would need to share even more of their personal data with the ad companies. Search online for, say, running shoes and you'll be bombarded with ads for running shoes for days or weeks afterwards. They don't know you've bought a pair - unless you give them access to more of your personal data so that they can find out - and I'm not willing to do this.

    I understand that some sites can't be free without ads, but it cuts both ways. Sites that rely on advertising also need to understand that if they spaff dozens of intrusive, annoying ads at users, whether well-targeted or not, they will piss those users off and, ultimately, reduce ad revenue.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: the right people

      It is more a matter of "the right time". If I am reading the news then I am not buying anything. If I am buying something I will use my list of URLs to get to a company the sells what I am after and type key words into the site's search box to get to the right product. All of this works without massive databases of every website that anyone has ever looked at or complicated algorithms find and excuse to deflate the fattest advertising budgets.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "...the stuff that reaches only the right people is worth far more..."

      The problems with ads that "reach only the right people" is that the people would need to share even more of their personal data with the ad companies. Search online for, say, running shoes and you'll be bombarded with ads for running shoes for days or weeks afterwards.

      No, just make the ads context sensitive. If you search for running shoes ads presented at that time are likely to be effective - or at least stand a chance of competing with the other ads. They're worth paying for. Ads weeks later are worth zilch to everybody except the snake-oil salesmen who collect the fees for them.

      That's why you're tracked on what you searched for, not what you bought - they can sell running shoe ads on the basis that they know somebody who searched for running shoes. What they don't want to know is that you bought a pair because if their practices were ever looked into they'd need plausible deniability to avoid accusations of fraud.

      1. PaulVD

        Re: "...the stuff that reaches only the right people is worth far more..."

        That's DuckDuckGo's business model - they sell ads that are placed next to your search response, and nothing else. So they have no need to track you. They claim to have been profitable since their first month in business (although they will never be as profitable as Google).

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: "...the stuff that reaches only the right people is worth far more..."

          Profit is good. Even better when they DO! NOT! TRACK! YOU!

    3. CJ_C
      Facepalm

      Re: "...the stuff that reaches only the right people is worth far more..."

      This used to be my world, but using private browsing on firefox and duck duck go it is not now.

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Joke

    It's just corporate policy

    Don't get caught being evil.

  12. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Payloads...

    If Company X can't guarantee the advert contains no nasties of any kind, then no way... never.

    The unseen crap(payloads), tracking and bandwidth chomp is what bothers me about web ads. I fail to see how it can work, and be safe.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Payloads...

      I fail to see how it can work, and be safe.

      Frankly, it doesn't ... on both counts.

  13. Ol'Peculier

    Sky

    It really gets me when it costs a fortune for Sky, especially when you are after the F1, and they still fling adverts at you.

    And if I have to be subject to them, I hope for the sake of my TV that AWS doesn't continue to use the advert it ran in Every. Single. Ad. Break of the squeaky voiced kid going "how do they do that?"

    1. Andy 97

      Re: Sky

      And they wonder why 'dodgy streams' are a thing.

      They'll quote that they 'make significant investment in live sport' and that 'to keep the subscription cost to a minimum' they also need to run adverts too.

      This is (of course) cobblers.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Sky

      What's the cost of F1 rights? Sports have been askimg for a lot of money for a while, just because they think they can - I'm not sure spectators would like to pay for them wholly.

      1. David Nash

        Re: Sky

        I wince in sympathy every time I see the Channel 4 F1 presenters saying that "you can watch the whole race on Sky or you can watch the highlights here..."

        That must hurt, but was no doubt part of the price to get the rights to show the highlights.

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Re: Sky

          And Sky is the reason C4 don't start with "The Chain" any more. After several seasons they wanted to use it, got into a bidding war and in the end neither got the rights.

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Sky

          Given how mind numbingly dull F1 is, highlights would beat the whole race hands down for me.

          .. Not a F1 fan, obviously

  14. WonkoTheSane
    Headmaster

    Time for a PiHole then?

    See Wikipedia

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Time for a PiHole then?

      Yes - running one in an LXC container on my NAS now - works a treat!

      1. cookieMonster

        Re: Time for a PiHole then?

        Mine’s on a pie zero, two adults and two “almost teenagers” in the house.

        Not a bother to it :-)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The more technical you are, the more options you get

    this is the key issue, the less technical you are the more you're screwed. Some tech-minded will say, not without glee, that it serves your right for being a dumb fuck. But we're all dumb fucks in most areas of life but our own, narrow field.

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "server-side tagging"

    Does that escape NoScript ?

    I get that Google is doing its level best to scrape every last sliver of information it can get from me, but NoScript does a damn good job of keeping anything I don't want from running and Google is javascript all the way.

    So does NoScript put this new approach to pasture ? I'd like to know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "server-side tagging"

      So does NoScript put this new approach to pasture ? I'd like to know.

      Unlikely. The whole idea behind server-side is that the scripts run on the servers,. by the time your client sees the results there's no script to block.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "server-side tagging"

        The whole idea behind server-side is that the scripts run on the servers,. by the time your client sees the results there's no script to block.

        I wonder if it depends on your browser. Server-side tacking still requires a client side tag manager container, but this offloads tag processing to a server-side container which does the heavy lifting and connects to Google Analytics, Google Ads and/or third party analytics. I'm guessing that Chrome will handle client-side tag management internally, so can't be blocked by No-Script, whereas other browsers may have to use Javascript for tag management, which can then be blocked. (Disclaimer: I'm no expert at this stuff, mainly because I'm not some bastard who works in the marketing industry.)

        What worries me is that if all connections to analytics and ad servers are initiated by the server and not the client, how the hell does a browser extension / pi-hole instance sat on the client-side do any blocking? To the client it would look as if all ad and tracking content comes from the server you're requesting web pages from, which is the one you obviously can't block...

        1. ckm5

          Re: "server-side tagging"

          That's the whole point, AFAIK. If you are adding tracking tags at the server side then they can't be blocked. It also lessens the load on the browser massively.

          Here is a pretty good explaination - https://www.internetrix.com.au/blog/the-benefits-and-limitations-of-server-side-tagging-in-google-tag-manager-gtm/

          1. eldel

            Re: "server-side tagging"

            Excellent introduction and thank you for that link.

            My initial thought is that we are going to have to get a lot deeper than (for example pi-hole) current domain level blocking and actively filter the return traffic to the server side. Of course this means a much greater (finer) control over what the browser will supply. Given that all the evil empire browser derivatives will give anything that is asked of them that leaves us with few options - though it will be interesting to see what the response of Brave and Opera is. With Mozilla looking like they are caving to Google pressure - follow the money and see where most of their income comes from - the choices are looking very thin indeed.

            Palemoon with better browser data fuzzing maybe?

  17. DJO Silver badge

    Counter productive

    Fling ads to people who don't object to them but for people who have expressly stated they do not want any ads then why bother.

    For example if I disable pop-ups but someone works out how to circumvent that and show me one for "Fred's Widgets" you can guarantee the next time I need some widgets, Fred will not get my custom.

    1. ckm5

      Re: Counter productive

      You'd think that ad-blocking would actually improve CPMs as it is a signal that the user is not interested in the ad, further segmenting the audience....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Headline is a complete red herring

    Quite aside from regulating web advertising, what we need is for Google to be broken up to correct the seriously anticompetitive behaviour we have been seeing since, what, 2005 or so? How come the author does not even take notice of this elephant in the room?

    Incidentally, that's around the time that founders Brin & Page took a low profile. I guess that's the point when the VCs must have decided that they wanted to start squeezing their investment for all its worth and then some.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Headline is a complete red herring

      Only if you think the accompanying related article is also a red herring.

      You're talking about a different article. Just because you hate Google's anti-competitive behaviour it doesn't mean we should ignore their attempts to force ads on us.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The rise of Facebook and the slow death of journalism is due to online ads

    To blame ads for this is probably unintentionally, way too narrow. You could say that the death of journalism is due to, I don't know, the rise of internet. Or rise of technology in general. Or due to global economy. Or, due to human laziness (pictures gooood! words baaaad!) fueled by that technology. Or due to the nature of capitalism which always seeks to maximise profit and minimise costs. Or, due to the initial choice of internet as an ad-funded model. OK, in this sense, ads are at the foundation stone of all evil, but really, they're not. The foundation is, arguably, human drive for more profit, and ads are the easiest and surest vehicle to achieve that. If the easiest and surest to make money were to level social inequalities, grow tropical forests or drill the deepest hole on this planet, we'd be well-advanced in doing exactly that. Well, in a way we have dug a deep, shitty internet hole and keep diggin :(

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: The rise of Facebook and the slow death of journalism is due to online ads

      The slow death of journalism?

      Easy. Back in the eighties I used to read the Daily Mail (and the Guardian).

      If you can stand it, pop over to the Mail's website.

      That is why journalism is dying.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The rise of Facebook and the slow death of journalism is due to online ads

        I don't understand. What does the Daily Mail have to do with journalism?

        >:)

        1. ckm5

          Re: The rise of Facebook and the slow death of journalism is due to online ads

          Touche - I read it for enterainment, although the comments are often a good indicator of what the right-wing conservative hive mind is thinking....

    2. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: The rise of Facebook and the slow death of journalism is due to online ads

      "...which always seeks to maximise profit and minimise costs."

      You say that like it's a bad thing.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: The rise of Facebook and the slow death of journalism is due to online ads

        > You say that like it's a bad thing.

        You say that like it's actually more of a good thing.

        Well, the ultimate profit maximizing / cost minimizing strategy is fraud (and robbery), keep that in mind...

        (Didn't downvote you BTW)

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: The rise of Facebook and the slow death of journalism is due to online ads

        Depending on how it's done, it can be a bad thing. To minimize costs can be done by finding the costs and identifying ways to not have them, which is good. It can also be done by identifying costs and pretending not to notice them, which is bad. If costs to others, I.E. externalities in economics, are taken into account for the reduction goal, then it's good. A lot of companies try not to ever consider that and dump those costs off on us; now their costs are lower and they haven't done anything.

        Maximization in profit can be done badly too. Places that attempt to maximize profit now usually don't pay any attention to what they're going to do later; when that roles around, they'll just try to maximize again. Sometimes, it's necessary to invest in something now, thus getting less in profits, in order to get more profits in the long-term. If profit maximization of this type is done by some company which doesn't push its costs off, then it can only harm that company in the long-term. That's their business. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't. The company maximizes profit instead of investing, extracts that profit until a crisis, then pushes the costs it can no longer manage off on other people.

        This is harmful to everybody. It's harmful to the people who have to clean up the mess created by someone who only thought about the short-term. It's harmful to anyone who invested in the company after previous profit maximizers drained the resources that could have produced long-term profitability. It is harmful to other companies who haven't done this because it causes stereotypes that a lot of corporate entities are going to act like this, which is the stereotype the person you replied to was espousing to some degree.

  20. Warm Braw Silver badge

    The microburst of joy you get when you select Block User

    Is only available if you've created an account, by which time it's a bit late.

    On the one hand I find it frustrating that Google is constantly complaining about logins from unauthorized devices and flinging captchas in my path at every opportunity, but it at least means their stalking is at least partially frustrated. I don't think it's a good trade to offer more information in exchange for less annoyance. And equally for advertisements.

  21. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "and now even more control is being taken from us"

    Not really. I have the control needed to to use Chrome and a non-Google search engine. What more control would I need?

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      What more control would I need?

      This article is about Google moving their ad tracking business to the server. Your browser and search engine won't matter when a site you visit has the Google tracking node module installed. You won't be able to tell from your end what's running on the server.

      So if Google get their way you'll be tracked around the majority of the internet irrespective of browser and search engine.

  22. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Simple

    Don't use a Chrome browser, possibly not one based on Chromium.

    Getting harder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple

      Don't use a Chrome browser, possibly not one based on Chromium.

      Getting harder.

      Never found browsers that exciting, to be honest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple

        Furry firey foxes don't appeal to you, then? :-P

        (I'll get my coat...)

        [Yes, I know they're not actually foxes]

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Simple

          > Furry firey foxes don't appeal to you, then? :-P

          Only the two-legged ones...

  23. heyrick Silver badge

    "Good advertising – the sort targeted at readerships by the reader's own actions"

    Which in itself is a slippery slope. How do you know what are my actions? Oh, right, you're tracking me. <click>{BLOCK}

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: targeted at readerships by the reader's own actions

      I thought they were talking about puting adverts for farm equipment in "Farmers weekly", adverts for bikes in "The Cyclist" etc... The reader does the targetting by picking up the magazine.

  24. heyrick Silver badge

    The thing is, control can always rest with the user. I run blocking, because there's no way in hell I'm going to let random sites pull in random scripts and rubbish from elsewhere.

    The rule is quite simple. Sometimes (rarely) I see a little textual advert from Google. I can ignore it. But those sites that scream about how much harm I'm causing by not allowing them to get third parties touting junk? Well, I'm about to harm them even more. Goodbye.

    When advertisers think it is okay to toss random APKs at me, and attempt to debit my phone bill internet purchasing (there's a good reason that is disabled), it is malware and theft. Are the site owners who provided links to this going to step up and compensate me (and everybody else)? Or are they going to deny responsibility because third party...?

    Yeah. Exactly. So they can all fuck right off. When I no longer have the choice to block, I'll take a third option, I just won't visit those sites.

  25. Elledan Silver badge
    Happy

    Your business model is not my concern

    Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for the younger generations who haven't explored the wild and untamed Internet as it was before the arrival of the MySpaces, FaceBooks and a 'do evil' Google. Back in those days, having a 'website' or 'home page' was something a company had as a way to show off how hip they were, and for the average user something a hip wizkid would have their own personal hobby. Anyone remember web rings?

    There was some advertising in those days, but generally just a text banner or static image directly hosted and vetted by the owner of the site or from the free hosting provider (Geocities, etc.). There were no gigantic ad networks (hi DoubleClick) with round-the-clock tracking of all online activity. Some start-ups even offered money or such when you'd just have this ad-filled bar on your desktop and looked at it often enough (which was easy enough to cheat....).

    These days, though? Google, Facebook, et al. are just cynical exploitation machines, which encourage self-exploitation among the masses. All for the sake of selling more ad views and clicks. Countless companies have come to rely on these advertising services, with a business model that is essentially that of Bonzai Buddy, just with more ads instead of spyware (and sometimes both).

    Advertising these days is definitely beyond the pale. Speaking as someone whose tolerance for ads has been calibrated by growing up with 90s (Dutch) TV and the 90s internet, I literally could not use the internet today without an adblocker and accompanying JS blocker. If Twitter didn't have the ad-free TweetDeck, I'd likely ditch that platform too. Facebook? Self-ExploitationBook is more like it.

    Comforting thought of the day is that without ad revenue, Facebook and Google would very likely end up bankrupt, because that is all their business model really is at the end of the day. And that's okay, because their business model is not my concern, and I am not going to watch any ads even if they're really fun just to 'support' a site.

    We invented the concept of donations for that, after all. If you appreciate your users/viewers/readers/etc., ask for donations. Yes, that means you, Facebook.

    </rant>

  26. MisterHappy

    Targeted Advertising is awful anyway

    I recently had the need to replace the heating element on our oven, a fairly simple process that was made easy by the supplier's site having a tutorial.

    However, I did use Google to look for a supplier & until I cleared my cookies I was getting advertisements for the thing I had already bought. It's the same across the board, instead of "Oh you bought (a) perhaps you would be interested in (b)", you get "You were looking for (a) how about this (a) or this (a1) or this (a2)?"

    Along with what has been said above about non-intrusive ads, it would be nice if ads didn't try and sell me something I have already bought!

  27. N2 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Adverts get nuked

    Hosts file

    Ad blocker

    Pi-hole dns

    Noscript

    Canvas

    Cookie auto delete cleans anything when i close the tab

    My browser is ad free, but to be honest Im imune to all forms of adertising, because its usually so shyte anyway.

    Icon - its what Google needs

  28. Gerlad Dreisewerd

    A simple answer

    Remember garbage in, garbage out. Google wants data. Let's give them data. Think of botnets churning out terabytes of absolute gibberish by the minute to the point that Big Data has no idea what is legitimate data and what is garbage.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A simple answer

      They won't care. It means that the advertisers pay for what they think is targeted advertising. It doesn't matter to the advertising industry that the targeting's crap. They've got the advertisers' money.

    2. David Black

      Re: A simple answer

      Always wondered about this. Given that the "pool" of ad and revenue mapping is actually a pretty awful murky swamp, I don't think you'd need to inject much fresh sewerage in a very overt, public way to draw attention to how poor the revenue spend is tracked.

      Actually, I suspect you'd just need to say that you've build a bot farm and are spewing in millions of fake clicks and no one could disprove it. Lack of credibility would drive down ad revenue pretty quickly. A bit like a run on a market, it's knowing that markets are based on (mostly misplaced) confidence, remove the confidence and watch the tumble. Right now ad buying business are just paying cause others are, not because they are getting ROI.

    3. John Arthur

      Re: A simple answer

      One word: Adnauseam

    4. ckm5

      Re: A simple answer

      That's been happening for well over a decade. Click-fraud is a real thing, which is why a lot of advertisers only pay per click....

  29. Robert Grant Silver badge

    It's kind of a tech company too, but in a good-enough sort of way rather than the "hey, we invented the transistor" sort of way.

    Exactly. That's why I use IE11, Azure Service Fabric, Apple Maps and Bing. Because they're just as good as Google's mediocre tech.

  30. tekHedd

    DNS-over-HTTPS: iceberg, tip of

    DoH was first because it was easiest to justify. "Think of the poor children in oppressed regimes!" they said, but we know it's low hanging fruit. It's an easy sell AND DNS-level is the easiest way to block tons and tons of crappy flashing ads.

    I used to only manually block the worst ads, but it turns out 1) all ads come from the same handful of servers, and 2) there are very, very few ads that aren't "worst." So, starting with a fresh ABL install, I find I'm blocking basically 100% of ad content by the end of the week anyway. I genuinely tried to leave "nonintrusive and interesting" ads in but there simply are none.

  31. tinkler

    Here's an ad blocking router

    For people who don't have the expertise to set up pi-hole, here's a router that does ad blocking easily on the network: https://www.pcwrt.com

  32. AndrueC Silver badge
    Stop

    This book should be compulsory reading in schools.

    I read it when I was barely a teenager and its message has stuck with me for over 40 years. Advertising is legalised scamming. The end game is treating people like cattle.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Excellent book, Read it 3 times.

  33. nxnwest

    I'm paying the postage

    With snail mail, the advertiser has to pay the postage. With the internet, the users have to pay the postage. The advertiser is not paying for the bandwidth sucked down and billed to your mobile provider, limited by your monthly datacap for your regular ISP or the computing time and electric bill for spinning your CPU. So all this 'targeting' is fully at my expense therefore I have all right to discontinue and block the advertising. Especially if all my business (including government, social services) must now be 'e'...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I'm paying the postage

      This.

      It's my bandwidth, not theirs. They can sod right off.

      Also, unvetted 3rd party servers? Not in my house. With prejudice.

  34. Binraider Bronze badge

    Love it or loathe it, the primary purpose of the internet besides information sharing is, advertising. A site like El Reg does itself survive on advertising. Whether it's those sponsored articles - or something more invasive. Google derived search results I have blocked by PiHole, though irritatingly sometimes I want to follow those results (and especially the other half). FB thinks I like bikes so I get endless ads for luminous Spandex. It doesn't also know that I'm a 16 stone electrical engineer and computer nerd, which is clearly not a good combination or well thought out example of targeted advertising. YouTube gets lots of view time here, and it's ads are harder to block. But frankly, push something too hard I'm going to actively go out my way to avoid it. Make thing unobtrusive and I'll consider them.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      re: blocking youtube ads

      No, you just have to enumerate all of Google's ad domains (current ad domains I should say). Sometimes it will pause at a blank (no ad delivered) page, but F5 reloads it and it continues just fine. I have no problem with this.

    2. ckm5

      I use Firefox with uBlock and it seems to catch most of the ads. For YouTube, I have uBlock with AdBlock for Youtube....

      Works well enough - and I use 1.1.1.1 for DNS

  35. bazza Silver badge

    Regulation

    We know that legal controls on advertising works: the pirate radio ships of the 1960s were mostly taken off-air not through police action or prosecuting listeners under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, but by stopping UK companies from advertising on them.

    And indeed this is the nuclear option that the tech giants seem to have forgotten about, perhaps because they're USAian and assume that their constitution extends globally. There's a lot of stuff brewing up around, for example, online bullying and the pathetic response to it from companies like Facebook, etc. There's talk of passing on the resultant NHS bill for increased mental health care directly to Facebook, Twitter, etc. An alternative is to take their revenue stream away with a legally enforced advertising ban.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    I run an ad blocker on The Register (and everywhere else).

    If you introduced a subscription model with a guarantee that there would be no ads ever including sponsored shïte about entering cloud nirvana, I would sign up.

  37. BGatez

    I never look at ads but..

    I NEVER buy anything I am harassed with, in fact I email or FB companies with offensive ads and tell them

  38. stiine Silver badge
    Holmes

    "The fact that Lewis Hamilton's car doesn't look like a cigarette packet is part of the reason your uncle won't die of lung cancer."

    Wrong.

  39. HAL-9000
    Pint

    Anyone else?

    I wouldn't object, thus use a blocker, if the ads were quiet and well behaved. Sadly many are not, and if you choose to spend your adult relaxation time on pron or gambling sites then you will likely find that your browser cookie jar becomes pretty nasty in short order. How about Google develops a code of practice (otherwise known as a CoP) that all sides sign onto... No nasty screen hogging, pop up popping, flashing, animated, video downloading hi-jinx in return for fair play from Google users? Too much to ask for I suspect

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would happily donate cycles for bitcoins mining instead of ads. That's fairer.

  41. Number6

    From a practical side of things, if Google wants to handle everything on their servers and just throw out static images with no scripts running on the client side then I'd tolerate ads way more because that vastly improves security at my end.

    Flashy banners and pop-ups are still unwelcome and result in me doing my best not to buy anything so advertised.

  42. bigtreeman

    what adds ?

    If you don't want adds you have to get techy

    and work out how to control your experience,

    or pay someone to fix it for you.

    The technology keeps changing and you have to keep up,

    different browser, add blocker, tracker blocker, whatever.

    Sometimes I miss half the story because the pictures have been poisoned,

    such is life.

    A website owner is just some shitty company, I don't care,

    if they have a real product to profit from, that I want to purchase, ok

    if they are trying to leverage income from crap, they can feck off.

    The world is full of flaky dick heads.

  43. mego

    Kinda... don't disagree with Google's point

    They are first and foremost an advertising company, and we pay for their services such as search by viewing their ads. Now, I don't support Google - and have moved everything I can off the platform due to their shenanigans - but if you want to use Google, you accept their terms and their method of paying for the services you use.

  44. Number6

    All ads should be selected server-side. That would make it way safer for us as users and stop our browsers being bogged down with badly-written or malicious scripts. It would also make them way harder to block because if done well, they'd be indistinguishable from other images in the downloaded page. Then it's between the ad brokers and the server owners. Given how the money flows, that would give the ad brokers every incentive to make the server-side code efficient.

  45. That 8 Bit Guy
    Joke

    I never thought the day would come..

    ..when Uncle Google demanded that I shut my Pihole. It not like I am gabby or something.

    Don't like YouTube adverts? Well get YouTube Premium in India. Costs me like $2.50 a month and I can download to my hearts content or YouTube's content anywhere in the world. I do like me a bit of Bollywood though.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ads won't be too bad if they didn't take up 90% of the content of the page or run so many scripts the CPU hits 100%

    Therefore ad-blockers do have a place. Not only remove pointless ads but speed up your browsing experience.

    As for ads on mobile apps, it seems to be run a full screen ad after every level where the ad lasts longer than the level. If that is the case the app gets deleted and a crappy review left.

  47. Charles Smith

    Encourage the Advertisers

    I run an AdBlocker to tidy the dross, but Google does manage to slip some stuff by those controls. In those cases where the content consistently repeats I always (repeatedly) click on the link to bring up the ad on a different browser tab. It's a click and will have cost the advertisers a dollar or two for each click. For the worst offenders I let them know they are wasting money.

    The more that people sting the Ads, the sooner Google will change it's tune. Sure it gives an initial boost to Google's wallet, but as the advertisers become to realise it is wasted money...

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Encourage the Advertisers

      > I always (repeatedly) click on the link

      Google thanks you, they love click fraud, since it means more money for them. But your dozen clicks are nothing compared to the real thing, the big-scale malware campaigns creating thousands and thousands of fake clicks.

      As for Google's clients, they don't even mind the big scale fraud (profit and losses), so your dozen clicks won't change anything.

      What I'm trying to say is don't waste your time...

  48. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Back in the day

    I installed my first ad blocker in response to flash ads. You would be scrolling down a page, reading stuff for eg and your cursor, in the middle of the screen would intersect with a detector and a video flash add would erupt across your browser window, with sound if you had it enabled. Even if not invoked to spread ads would flicker in your eyeline making reading difficult as your brain tried to filter out this thing designed to grab your attention.

    This site was the worst offender. El Reg made me install my first ad blocker. Way back in the Noughties.

    Some news sites won’t let you in with adblockers enabled, their loss as far as I’m concerned. No page clicks from me. Close tab or window. Ads are too intrusive. In the static, printed newspaper they don’t flicker and flash at you, the example is not exact.

    The advertisers have driven us to do this by their desperation to get noticed which annoys us so much we act against it. That is a failure on the part of the advertisers.

  49. skalamanga

    AI based adblocking services incoming in 3....2....

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My ad-blocking software is between my ears. I simply do not "see" anything on the page except what I am looking for. Flashing or other distracting images will irritate me into doing something to get rid of them, but what they were on about, $Diety only knows. Very effective. An interesting image or funny slogan may momentarily catch my eye, but that does not induce me to click on it. And, in the vanishingly small likelihood that something useful does show up, I note it using (primitive!) paper and pencil and go look for it later.

  51. John Wayland Bales

    "There oughta be a law!" Really?

    Are we going to "there-oughta-be-a-law" ourselves into omnipotent government?

    It is easy and somewhat irresistible to dream up new targets for government coercion.

    But could we just give it a rest and give a free market room to find solutions?

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