Adblocking People and Non-adblocking People Experience a Totally Different Web

I’ve just spent the past hour writing a blog post about why on earth certain websites have autoplaying videos that must cost them a fortune in bandwidth. And then it dawned on me. Video ads!

I’ve been browsing the web with an adblocker for so long that I’d totally forgotten about the existence of ads being spliced into video content. Ah, silly me.

But just to be sure ads were the reason the website could afford to run video, I turned off my adblocker for the first time in years and visited the same page/video I was investigating. And yhep there they were. Lots of ads being regularly shown at intervals throughout the video.

Also, a side effect of turning off my adblocker to check for video ads was that I was presented by general internet ads for the first time in a long time. And god was it awful. There they were, flashing and taking up large parcels of screen real estate (along with I’m sure doing their usual tracking creepiness). What an unpleasant experience.

According to this article 27% of American internet users use an adblocker (which seems a little high to me). But either way, the 73% are experiencing a very different internet. And it’s a far, far worse one.

The internet these days has lost a lot of its charm, and I personally don’t find it quite as fun to browse as I once did. But I think without the help of an adblocker I would find it much worse.

As far as I’m concerned an adblocker is a requirement. Install one if you haven’t already.

Also, if you’re interested, below is the post I wrote before I remembered about the existence of video advertising (a happier time).

One of the many plagues of the internet these days is random autoplaying videos on websites. And the magazines owned by Condé Nast are especially guilty of this.

And I’ve always wondered why they’ve become a thing. Put to one side the annoyance to the visitor (thankfully the audio is usually on mute by default at least) and how much video streaming might cost users in countries with high data charges. But what about the cost to the website itself?

I would imagine margins are pretty thin these days if you run a magazine website. Advertising revenue isn’t what is used to be and the money they make for each visitor is probably the lowest it has ever been.

So with that being the case, surely they would want to deliver each and every page as cheaply and efficiently as possible to protect those small margins? So why are they autoplaying videos, which are famously expensive to deliver?

For example, lets imagine you read this article on Vanity Fair which Instapaper says takes 19 minutes to read. And the autoplaying video (they appear to be chosen at random) is this one which happens to be around 19 minutes long. All of a sudden a 5MB page has turned into a 261MB one. (Also, the Vanity Fair / Condé Nast video player isn’t very smart. Unless you make it fullscreen the video player size on the page is tiny. So it would make sense to deliver the video at 360p or a similar small resolution until the user makes the video full-screen, to save on bandwidth. But it doesn’t. As far as I can tell, despite the player being around 200 pixels wide, the video quality quickly climbs to 1080p.)

I’m sure Condé Nast is a large customer for their CDN of choice and are on a pretty cheap tier with a low cost per GB delivered. But even so, again: video is expensive! And I simply can’t see how it’s worth their while to autoplay video on their site. Can anyone explain this to me?!