There was an interesting episode on Radio 4’s programme Analysis last night, exploring the phenomenon of software to block online adverts and what it might mean for the future of news. It is clear that it is becoming more prevalent and that advertising is struggling to pay thus creating a knock on economic impact for publishers. Possible future scenarios include much less online content without having to cross ‘paywalls’ (subscription only services) and also a shift to integrating advertising with editorial text, adding further bias and diminishing the independence of those online news sources.
The reason I use adblocking software is not because I want to bring online industries to their knees. I dislike having my use of the web disrupted by large, garish adverts that slow the speed at which the page loads and I am concerned about the security risks these adverts pose – so called malvertising. While I am cautious about the sites I visit, the adverts they display could potentially directly my browser to go to all manner of places I wouldn’t want to entertain.
I would be happy to see ads that were served as static image files or small blocks of text but I’m not going to take the risk in the meanwhile. If that means a lot of news agencies close off access to their sites, I might just live with that. After all, there are plenty of sites that manage to publish news and views without aggressive and potentially dangerous monetization (like this one… if you are reading directly on my blog and not via Twitter or Facebook). On balance, I think bring on the future.