Definition

The blocking of Web advertisements, typically the image in graphical Web advertisements.


Information

While ad blocking has existed for several years, it is still estimated to be used by a relatively small percentage of the online population. Standalone blocking solutions may have leveled off after the initial wave of eager adopters, but adoption could grow considerably if the functionality is bundled with other Web software. Initially introduced by non-mainstream software companies, ad filtering technology has now been integrated into popular application suites from major software companies such as McAfee and Symantec.

Proponents claim that download times improve considerably by eliminating slow-loading banners and buttons. A slow-loading advertisement can keep an entire page from loading until the ad either loads or times out. This one factor can cause more delays than the actual download and rendering of all other page elements combined.

Opponents claim that ad blocking amounts to nothing more than theft, as ad-free surfers use valuable resources without indirectly “paying” in the form of viewing ads. A few publishers have gone so far as to reject ad-blocking visitors.

If widely embraced, ad blocking might actually have some unintended consequences for Web surfers. By rejecting anything that is easily identified as an advertisement, ad-blocking software actually encourages more aggressive forms of generating revenue. If legitimate advertising is eliminated, content sites will feel the pressure to sacrifice editorial integrity by using sneaky advertorials, charge subscription fees for content… or be forced out of business.

see also: Digital Marketing Tools

Synonyms

ad filtering

Related Terms

beyond the banner

view all terms in the Online Advertising glossary or all terms in the Digital Marketing glossary

Sites

SaveTheFreeWeb.com – discuss ad-supported content and ad-blocking.

Articles

Ad Killers: A Threat?
ClickZ (October 30, 2002)

Ad Filters May Spring Leaks
CNET News.com (October 10, 2001)

Another Hurdle: Ad-Blocking Software
ClickZ (May 9, 2001)

The Dilemma of Ad-Blocking Software
ClickZ (April 19, 2001)

Writer’s Block Ad-Blocking Software
CNN (July 12, 1999)

Firm Pulls Ad Blocking Software
CNET News.com (December 4, 1998)

Ad Filtering Catching On?
CNET News.com (February 13, 1998)

Filter Seeks to Block Banner Ads
CNET News.com (February 12, 1998)