Ad Blocking

Are Ad Blockers Even Relevant After GDPR?

By June 7, 2018 No Comments

After the GDPR tidal wave last month, the term “ad blocker” suddenly feels like a misnomer. Well, it is a misnomer, but not because of GDPR.

“Ad blocker” has always been a misnomer because it’s so limiting in what it actually does or can do. The technology that blocks ads also blocks a host of other services like Google Analytics, Omniture, New Relic, etc., and even some content and site functionality, with innocent names that include the word “ad”. Maybe more importantly, the term labeled its users as merely “ad avoiders”, when in fact, most were using ad blockers to manage their privacy and improve their web experience pre-GDPR.So, the terminology “ad blocker” could use an update, but with GDPR in place, is ad blocking even relevant anymore? Heck yes and here’s why:

GDPR doesn’t improve anyone’s web experience

Improving web experience is the #1 reason people use ad blockers. GDPR was designed to protect privacy on the web, but not to make the web a better place to visit, or to change the advertising-fueled business models that our favorite sites are beholden to. Ad blockers do that trick.

GDPR doesn’t stop ads

GDPR requires that users opt-in to their use of their personal data, but it doesn’t block ads. One of the main reasons users love ad blockers is because no ads means a faster, less cluttered, less annoying web experience. In fact, GDPR could make our web experience worse. Yes worse, because instead of being able to use your personal data to serve ads that are more relevant and targeted to you, compliant sites will be forced to serve “contextual ads”, or ads that seem to go with content  you’re looking at on the site. Never seen the inside of a Home Depot, but you’re looking at lighting on a high design site you frequent? Enjoy those Home Depot ads.

GDPR doesn’t give users control

On the web… things happen to us. In other situations, like on our sofa in front of the TV at home, we control the scene. On the web, we don’t have a lot of control over how sites choose to make us pay for the free information we want, but with an ad blocker, the tables turn. GDPR gives users the option to comply with the site’s policies, but an ad blockers give users the control to decide if a site’s ads can come through our gate.

GDPR doesn’t mean universal privacy

Many sites, including the NY Times, have switched the light off on the EU, so the rules haven’t really changed for those using those sites. They’ve updated their privacy policies, but essentially, if you use the site you’re complying to their use of your data and allowing them to serve you ads. More, most of us are still unsure how far GDPR really reaches especially with vendor relationships and what implementations will prove to be compliant or not-quite. It will be awhile before the dust settles. Ad blockers keeps the user in control over advertising  and their data. With an ad blocker on – no ads, no data, no tracking

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