Ad blockers could change the future of the web

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There’s a choice you’ll have to make about the future of advertising on the web that could change everything you now enjoy for free.

The debate about ad blockers

Ad blockers are generally free programs that can be added to your browser if you’re annoyed by the ads you’re served as you surf around. They will effectively remove online ads and banners from being displayed on websites. In addition, many also block known malware domains, and prevent Flash, Java or malicious programs from being downloaded.

Some popular ones include Adblock Plus, Ghostery and TrackerBlock (for Firefox users.)

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But here’s the thing: Most of the info that is so widely available to us for free digitally works on an ad-based model. If ad blockers get too much traction, they will kill the free ride. So I know the opportunity is there with more and more apps to use to blocks the ads. But be aware what you’re doing by putting those blockers in place.

Think of it like this. Spotify and Pandora let you listen to music for free with ads, or you can pay and get more robust service that is ad-free. So that’s a choice. And if you wish to pay for all the stuff that you now go to without thinking about it, then fine, you should have that choice. But if you’re going to use an ad blocker and try to get the content for free without seeing the ads, you destroy the very revenue model that offers it to you.

Now, it’s true there is segment of population that doesn’t have to think about what things cost. But for most people, it would be cost prohibitive to have to pay for access to the news and entertainment you want.

I know you’ll make your own choice on this issue. But I believe you should think long and hard before you download any ad blocker. Because it’s dangerous to the future of free expression and free content.

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