Friday, September 18, 2009

Are Ad Blockers a Bad Thing?

Having used Firefox as my main browser for the past few years witht he "Ad Block Plus" plugin I gradually got used to seeing web pages with very few ads in them: nice clean pages which loaded faster, especially on a mobile connection. It therefore came as a bit of a shock to have to switch browser this week due to an ongoing fault on my PC which seems to be caused by a bug in Firefox. Now I am seeing web pages in all their ad-rich glory.
Its actually not been too bad and there have been a few advantages. For example, there was an ad on Facebook which actually took me to a useful service that I was interested in using. I have also seen ads on forums that are about the products being discussed there, so I can see how they became the subject of critical debate.  This brings me round to one of the core purposes of advertising which is to provide information to consumers. The Internet does this better than any other media, whilst being weaker at lifestyle selling than television or print media. This is why price comparison websites have done so well. Its direct information of use to the consumer. In the past I have bought a number of products which have been brought to my attention by online advertising. Even my domain name - - came from an ad that the .nu registry ran on Geocities back in 1998.
So does advertising lead to greater consumer spend or greater consumer choice. I think it could be either or both. From my point of view seeing the ads makes the web a  more interesting and informative place.