In the Internet age, it’s become virtually impossible to browse the Web without having intrusive advertisements pop up.
Or is it?
For free or a relatively small sum, Web surfers can now add software that blocks web advertising from your phone, tablet or computer. It’s all part of the efforts by some companies to prevent the browsing experience from being disrupted by endless ads.
“Advertisers have been degrading the user experience for users, especially on mobile, for the last 10 years.” Colorado-based software developer Chris Aljoudi told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview.
In the U.S., 16 percent of all Internet users are blocking advertisements, according to one survey. Previously, ad blocking was done mostly among desktop users. Now, the software is rapidly moving to mobile.
Last month, Apple launched its new iOS9 operating system which allows “content blockers.” Ad blocking apps quickly shot to the top titles in the App Store. Among those platforms was an app called Purify, which was created by Aljoudi.
Aljoudi said his app “not only gets rid of the ads, which is the obvious functionality, but the improvement in experience is substantial.” In addition to less clutter on the screen, Aljoudi also claims downloads are four times faster, while battery life is improved by 21 percent, because of the diminished presence of web ads.
Aljoudi said advertisers have “taken advantage with ads more and more specific to smartphones.”
He says mobile ads take up more space on the smaller screen, and since “most people have cell data plans with their providers … users are paying to get downloaded ads.”
Evidence suggests an antiweb ad revolution of sorts is underway. Globally, about 200 million people have downloaded software that blocks ads, according to a report by PageFair/Adobe.
“It’s certainly something that advertisers are thinking a lot about,” says Joe Zawadzki, chairman and CEO of MediaMath, a company that helps brands get their ads on mobile devices.
About $22 billion in global ad revenue has been blocked this year. Additionally, according to the PageFair/Adobe report, that number will nearly double next year to $41 billion.
Zawadzki told CNBC that advertisers are paying attention to the software, “as well as the publishers and content creators that rely on advertising revenue in order to pay for the editorial.” Advertising revenue pays for much of the cost of creating the content on media sites read and watched online.
“A lot of that starts to gets challenged if the fundamental premise of the online exchange, of basically advertising paying for the free content and goods and services we consume, goes away,” said Zawadzki.
“We definitely recognize the fact that ad blocking does cause a problem for revenue sources for publishers online that rely on advertising,” Aljoudi told CNBC.
So will growing use of ad blockers threaten the current ad-supported model of content on the Internet?
Aljoudi said, “We don’t think we’re in a position to answer that for the whole ecosystem.” However, he told CNBC the “goal of Purify is to have a choice for users to say whether they want ads or not.”
Zawadzki argued that, in using ad blockers, “what people are doing is rejecting bad ads.”
“Good advertising is indistinguishable from content. And bad advertising is noise and bad advertising is frustrating,” he added.
Aljoudi said that Purify has an option to enable users to allow ads they want. “Users can “whitelist” a site. What that means is if there is a site that users visit and they would like to support it by viewing its ads, because they believe they’re not intrusive, they can do so very easily.”
Zawadzki added: “The call to arms to advertisers and publishers is to make the (advertising) experience a better one. Make it a faster one. Make it one with more relevant advertising that actually works.”
Written by Trent Gillies of CNBC