Robert Važan


Attempts to stop adblockers are futile. People who attempt to do that don't realize they are facing determined enemy.

I use ad-blockers. I rev them up to maximum settings. Normal people don't even blink about that. But people in the media would cry they have to earn money somehow. They support their families with the money. They even go as far as calling ad-blocking a form of piracy or stealing. Poor souls. They don't realize what force they are facing.

I am one of the many people with ad allergy. When I was a student, I passed a wall covered with ad posters on the way to school. I did everything I could to not look, but the ads kept creeping into my mind. Eventually I started tearing them down, leaving clean wall behind me every day. The ads kept coming back and I kept tearing them down.

When I listened to radio back then, they ran blocks of ads increasingly often, up to 5 minutes of ads for 10 minutes of music. When the ads started, I tuned to another radio station. Then they started to synchronize the ad times. All the radios played ads at the same time. I turned the radio off.

When the Internet came, I never used search engines. They carried ads. I had my list of favorite ad-free sites and I used those. Even if that meant I couldn't complete some tasks at my job efficiently.

Then I discovered ad-blockers. I could get access to everything on the Internet without seeing any ads. It was like a new world. Warm and cozy. I was free to go anywhere while the ad-blocker shielded me from all the shit advertisers were trying to throw at my brain.

Ad allergy is like obsession. It's irresistible. It will override every other priority. I believe it is a manifestation of a wider allergy to lies, which is a stronger version of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. I am not the only one with ad allergy. Millions of people worldwide are allergic to ads to some extent. We form an informal extremist movement - the ad-xtremists.

Advertisers tried to detect and block the ad-blockers. I occasionally come across such sites. I just leave. I don't care. Some sites are broken under ad-blocker. I usually ignore them, but sometimes I add exception if it doesn't cause the ad-blocker to leak tons of ads through. AdBlock Plus once got a "feature" of allowing "non-intrusive" ads, which essentially permits ads from ABP sponsors. I disabled this "feature" the same day they launched it and later switched to uBlock Origin.

Advertisers then tried to inject unblockable ads using JavaScript, inline video, even modifying the content itself to be spammy. Ad-blockers are catching up. It's an arms race. I avoid sites that have immortal ads that pass through the ad-blocker. There are even devices, Android devices specifically, that will do everything in their power to prevent you from blocking ads. I just don't use them or use them in ways that avoid ads.

Advertisers cannot win this arms race. They have the money, but we have the zeal. Browsers can be modified to have transparent layer that ad-blockers can use to paint over areas of the page that contain ads. No JavaScript will ever get around that. No amount of HTML obfuscation will stop artificial intelligence detecting ads visually. Virtual reality goggles and augmented reality are another step-up in the arms race. This is the ultimate nuclear weapon of ad-blocking. Such VR goggles will be one day able to block billboards on streets and unskippable ads on any screen. Similar filters can be developed for audio.

Advertisers will try to declare our technology illegal, pressuring governments to beat us to death with fines for not looking at ads. Notwithstanding the fact that spammers could make the same claim against spam filters.

Advertisers share the same vulnerability with movie/music industry though: privacy. Nobody can prevent me from doing anything I want within privacy of my own computing equipment. Probability of being found out during random check is near zero. I'll challenge the law and I'll break the law. And I'll do it again.

We have an unexpected ally in this battle: parents. When Google released YouTube Kids, independent researchers found the service filled with kid-targeting ads and even full 20-minute promotional videos trying to lure kids into the endless emptiness of consumerism. There was a joke in ad industry that nothing is off-limits these days, not even trash bins. Everything has ads on it. Since then, ads started to appear all around kids, on the kids themselves, and ad agencies are now trying to convert kids into unpaid brand advocates. Kids are a fair game now.

If advertisers succeed at stripping us of ad-blockers, I will be in the front row of mass protests under government and advertising offices, throwing bricks into their windows, lynching advert designers trying to escape. They cannot stop us. This is not about being lazy or cheap. This is fanatical militant ad-xtremism.