Tue 17 Feb 2015 07:50:26 AM PST
Picking the next end-user security tool
One way or another, some kind of tracking protection tool is going to join the basic recommended list of security software for regular users. Firewall, check. Virus checker, check. Tracking protection, check.
The question is whether the anti-malvertising slot on the shoppping list will be filled with a problematic and coarse-grained ad blocker, or with a publisher-friendly tracking protection tool such as Disconnect or the built-in tracking protection in Firefox.
What's the difference, and why does it matter?
Tracking protection tools and AdBlock Plus will each let some ads through. However, AdBlock Plus uses the concept of "acceptable ads", which is broken for modern web designs.
For pages featuring a reading text ads should not be placed in the middle, where they interrupt the reading flow. However, they can be placed above the text content, below it or on the sides.
So a nice-looking design like Quartz does not have "acceptable" ads because the ads there can appear when scrolling a long article, but a crap-ass legacy CMS that splits a shorter article into 9 pages is A-OK.
More importantly, targeted third-party ads can buy into the "acceptable" program too, which does nothing for improving the value of the medium.
This is where the IT media can influence, not just observe.
The more that you write about tracking protection tools other than ad blockers, the more users will get them, and the better that business becomes for content sites, including the ones that pay you.
The less attention you pay to the issue, the more users are likely to switch to a "dumb" ad blocker, and the more that web ads slide into a no-win struggle like email spam/anti-spam.