The digital world continues to be abuzz about ad blocking. Many in the digital ad space have expressed everything from frustration to outrage, calling those who use blockers everything from misguided to thieves. They don’t, however, seem to acknowledge the root of the problem: bad code and bad business thinking. Now that mobile ad blocking is on the rise, they are turning up the rhetoric but let’s take a quick look at the problem.
It comes as no shock to anyone who has a mobile device that there are no unlimited data plans anymore. Every byte is counted against a cap, and in a world where images and videos are becoming the currency, those bytes add up pretty quickly. In essence, every screen, whether on a computer or a mobile device has a cost to the user, so it’s in the user’s best interest to be as efficient as possible when loading those pages or screens. More data also means shorter battery life since the device has to work to load and render. With me so far?
Now let’s revisit an analysis done by The NY Times last October. They spent a few days on some prominent sites measuring how much the ad blockers cut down on web page data sizes and improved loading times, and also how much they increased a smartphone’s battery life. The results?
The benefits of ad blockers stood out the most when loading theBoston.com website. With ads, that home page on average measured 19.4 megabytes; with ads removed using Crystal or Purify, it measured four megabytes, and with 1Blocker, it measured 4.5 megabytes. On a 4G network, this translated to the page taking 39 seconds to load with ads and eight seconds to load without ads.
In another example, the home page of The Los Angeles Times measured 5.7 megabytes with ads. After shedding ads, that dropped to 1.6 megabytes with Crystal and 1.9 megabytes with Purify and 1Blocker. On a 4G network, the page took 11 seconds to load with ads and four seconds to load without ads.
I’d encourage you to look at the interactive graphic associated with the article. The cost to the consumer can be anywhere from 2x to 4x when not using a blocker of some sort, and load times are much less when using one as the examples, above, show.
I get the problems these blockers cause, but maybe the bad code and bad business thinking that forces the bad code (lots of external calls for ad serving, user tracking, etc.) need rethinking instead of a lot of whining? What do you think?