Total Advertising Denial

I adopt a policy of Total Advertising Denial. It is, broadly speaking, impossible to advertise to me.

On the web, I block adverts to kingdom come and have done for well over a decade. This blocking is completely effective. I couldn't tell you the last time I saw an advert online.

It was many years after YouTube introduced adverts that I became aware that YouTube has adverts; not because I've ever seen one, but because of other people talking about them. “YouTube has adverts?” This was completely news to me. I still haven't seen one.

In the extremely rare circumstance where adblocking fails in a particular instance, Total Advertising Denial is facilitated by the following emergency protocol:

  1. The primary objective is to ensure that no part of the advert reaches my mind, for example, by averting my eyes and/or muting.

  2. The secondary objective is to, where possible, prevent the advert from being metered as having been delivered, for example by closing the tab immediately.

Advertising transmitted via other mediums, such as TV, can be avoided by scrupulously consistent use of mute precisely as advert breaks begin and end, and monitoring the TV using only your peripheral vision during advert breaks. The frequency of cuts in advertising makes it easy to identify the end of advert breaks, without bringing the TV into enough focus to actually have any idea as to what is being advertised.

It's been brought to my attention that a lot of people have been seeing adverts online even though they use adblockers. Personally, this laissez-faire attitude to adverts making it through adblockers is surprising to me and I suspect this is indicative of a disturbingly high failure rate of adblockers for many people. As I've indicated above, for me, incidents in which adblocking fails have a rate of occurrence of basically zero. It simply does not happen.

If an advert were to make it past an adblocker, this should be seen as an incident in itself, warranting full investigation and postmortem. If this sounds overkill, that in itself probably indicates you have come to accept the failure of adblocking far too often, and are accustomed to seeing adverts anyway. If fully investigating any advert which makes it past an adblocker sounds impractical, that in itself is an indication your adblocker is failing you orders of magnitude too often.

I suspect my use of Firefox, uBlock Origin and NoScript combined is helpful here, though I've also seen almost as good results with just Firefox and uBlock Origin.

Chrome adversarial to user interests. By comparison, use of Chrome is adversarial to effective adblocking, which shouldn't be terribly surprising given that Google is the world's largest advertising company. Google's plans to remove the extension APIs required for adblockers to be truly effective has been the talk of the community.

However, this is not actually the first time Google has tried to undermine adblocking via Chrome. For a period of time, Chrome was peculiar in that the API provided to extensions to allow them to block and filter HTTP requests did not work for requests which are made over QUIC. This is very peculiar given that these are still HTTP requests, for https:// URLs; logically they are in every way HTTP requests. The underlying transport technology used to make them is immaterial; it is as illogical as it would be to make an API for filtering HTTP requests, which works only for HTTP/1.1 requests and not HTTP/2.0 requests. However, given that Google, including its advertising servers, are the major adopters of QUIC to date, this “oversight” of implementation was advantageous to Google.

Browsers are supposed to be user agents; they are there to be on your side and advance your interests, nobody else's. I don't think Chrome can be trusted to serve this role, it is the fox guarding the hen house.

Advertising as social negative. Advertising is not socially neutral. It is shitting in people's heads, or squatting in them. It is also the fundamental driver and enabler of surveillance capitalism as a business model. In this regard, I consider adblocking (with zero tolerance for adblocking failures) wholly non-optional. This is before taking into account additional advantages of adblocking, such as significantly reducing page bloat, bandwidth use, local resource consumption (CPU/memory), and exposure to potential malware.