Repubblica withoutI installed AdBlock Fast to get rid of a huge quantity of useless and invasive advertising. I feel much better now. There is a lot of talk around the new Content Blocker function of iOS 9, but for me – as an user – is a much appreciated solution. In fact, internet surfing with the browser (this blocker does not works with apps), was unbelievably boring and irrational because of auto-play videos, multiple pop-ups, auto-refresh and other sorts of non-requested invasions hitting the speed and the rendering time of a page. Navigation benefits a lot and – at least at the moment – the layout of the pages does not seem to get penalised or defective. It is a pleasure scrolling in a fast and clean way the editorial components of the page appreciating them for what they are without being obliged to listen to often irrelevant messages of energy companies, automotive brands, insurances and so on.

Many may say the contents are often given for free and from producers’ (editors’) point of view having a kind of aggressive behaviour in pushing advertising is almost mandatory. In my opinion this idea is quite flimsy for several reasons, as I am a committed fan of subscription model. The level of aggressiveness reached lately gave me a feeling of reject and refuse that I think many agree with. Contents are often so submerged by advertisements that you have the feeling you are walking through a jungle with a machete.

On top of this aspects, an interesting analysis made by New York Times put in evidence how the loading speed of a page is structured at the origin with the clear intention of optimising advertisements impressions in spite of the content. For example, boston.com homepage requires over 30 seconds for advertising and 8 seconds for the content with a 4G (called LTE in the USA) connection on a mobile device. These values correspond to a cost of connection of 32 cents every time the homepage of this online newspaper is viewed (select the three buttons on the interactive data sheet of the NYT to view the different analyses). This means that the use of ad blockers significantly accelerates response time and visualisation of the contents on a mobile device.

Supporting or even just recommending the use of ad blockers clearly presents some side effects for companies committed to promote their products or attract new clients. Many experts calculated that the impact of the choice of Apple will consistently affect Google incomes, speculating that it may even be a decision explicitly taken with the purpose of damaging the incomes of a company once allied and more recently considered an enemy by Steve Jobs. Although, I can only see the use and the impact of ad blockers in a positive way, as they will force the businesses to review their communication models in favour of the interaction with consumers and inevitably of a more balanced user experience.

A German court stated in more than one occasion that this kind of solution, and more specifically Adblock Plus, is legal and legit, which is one more reason to approach the problem of content production and related costs in a less invasive and penalising manner than the actual model.

P.S.: images are referred to the web version of repubblica.it. The tablet version was much more invasive with various pop-ups and continuous refreshes of the homepage. Everything disappeared with AdBlock Fast.

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