Thursday, August 11, 2016

Like It or Not Facebook Plans to Force Feed You Ads [Update]

[Update] Adblock Plus, one of the best-known tools for blocking ads on the internet, claims to have a workaround that can defeat Facebook new advertising system. According to an official Adblock Plus blog post, users of the software can simply add a single line of code to their filters to make Facebook's ads go away. In response Facebook states, "We're disappointed that ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook as these new attempts don't just block ads but "other" Facebook content as well.."

Bad news for you Facebook users out there that are trying to get a little reprieve from the incessant bombardment of ads. Starting this week the social media giant will be employing new measures to bypass and block the most popular ad-blocking technologies out there. Meaning like it or not Facebook is going to be cramming as many ads as they can down your throat!

Facebook has announced that they will be taking measure to modify the digital signature of ads on its website so they are displayed to all users - this new modification is expressly meant to bypass most current ad-blocking apps. Meaning that all users, even those running browser extensions like Ad-block will now see apps on Facebook and in their timelines.

In an attempt to just justify the move Facebook says they are continuing to build "more powerful tools" which let users control the content of advertisements they see, ostensibly allowing users to cater ads to their interests. Though you still can't remove them, or limit them in any way!
We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software. When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of its ads and business platform stated, "We are making it harder for ad blockers to be effective on Facebook for desktop," describing the issue as a matter of principle.

"Facebook is ad-supported. Ads are a part of the Facebook experience; they’re not a tack on,” said Bosworth. "This isn’t motivated by inventory; it’s not an opportunity for Facebook from that perspective. We’re doing it more for the principle of the thing. We want to help lead the discussion on this."

By continuing to force more and more ads on users Facebook ensures their cash cow will continue to be profitable. As we recently reported the company reported billions of dollars in profits this past quarter, due by and large to their ad unit. By ensuring more users see more of their ads the company stands to continue those gains.

Ads and ad-blocking are hardly new. From day one advertisers were looking for ways to monetize websites to their fullest, and ad placement was a cheap and easy option. Unfortunately, these days being bombarded with an overload of ads on your favorite websites is all too common. This has resulted in a great deal of backlash from users and a substantial growth in the development of ad-blocking technology.

In 2016, 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker, an increase of nearly 35% from last year, research firm eMarketer says. Next year, that figure is expected to grow another 24% to 86.6 million people. Ad-blocking software is more common on desktop computers and laptops than on smartphones. Though the number of people using ad blocking software on smartphones will jump nearly 63% this year, eMarketer projects.

From a technical standpoint, Facebook is able to circumvent ad blockers relatively easily because of the way it loads ads into the service using their own servers. Many ad-blockers rely on the fact that online publishers and media companies utilize links and scripts from third-party companies to help display ads on their webpages and services. This make those ads much more easily identifiable to blocking technologies.

By modify the digital signature of their ads Facebook believes it will be too costly and time-intensive for developers of ad-blocking software to code in a fix to the issue. For now at least, it appears Facebook as won at this cat and mouse game, though we expect developers are working at workarounds as we type! 

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