Today, I had a traumatic experience.
I had to browse the Web like normal people.
I had to check something on my wife’s laptop who’s using neither Adblock nor Ghostery or Flashblock. After years protecting myself from adding advertisement networks as 127.0.0.1 in my
/etc/hosts file to using browsers extensions, I was facing an Ad powered Web.
It was an incredibly oppressing experience.
The ever popping ads, from banners to pop-ups to pop-under made focusing on the actual content difficult. I was feeling like I was trying to read War and Piece in the middle of Time Square, something no one still having a sanity point would do.
It ruined the whole experience compared to an ad free browsing. If you’ve ever been to Paris and have gave Pigalle a try after 8 PM, you’ve certainly seen those guys trying to make you enter in a hostess bars. I was feeling the same with all the flashing ads, knowing that, if I clicked on the wrong place, I would be taken to a place very different from what I was expecting.
I wonder how much time and energy is wasted trying to focus on a Web page without being distracted by advertisement. Do they get used to it, or do they cut / past what they need to read in a Word document? I’ve seen people doing this in the past when browsing ping on white with animated gifs sites, so why not as a way to avoid advertisement?
The scariest part was tracking.
If you ever want to know what your significant other is giving your for Xmas, browse some e-commerce sites, and let the targeted advertisements tell you what she’s been browsing lately. It sounds funny when you read stories of people complaining about porn ads popping everywhere and other people telling them it’s based on their previous browsing. It’s not funny at all, and I wonder how people experimenting this don’t freak out.
I feel the advertisement powered Web is a broken model for many reasons. I’ve talked about it with Web sites editors in the past, and they were all arguing there was no other choice but advertisement for them to survive.
It’s not the only business model, it’s the easiest one, in theory. Problem is, unless you’re big enough, you can’t deal with brands who advertise on your site but with third party companies. I just can’t imagine having clients who’re not my clients so I can’t control the price of what I sell.
There’s also a question of education. The « we give you free contents but spam you with advertisement » Web has been around for so long it’s hard to have people pay for quality content. Unfortunately, I don’t imagine anyone willing to pay for their daily dose of lolcats.