I know this makes me look like a hypocrite, but read on.
Most readers will know that I display ads on this blog. They are purposely not intended to be obtrusive, and I only put them at the end of articles (sometimes in the middle if it’s a long article). The ones at the end/middle of articles are Google ads, and the content is random (as is the one shown in the sidebar). I refuse outright to include pop ups, and I don’t control what any of them show (it’s either random, or based purely on the reader’s browsing habits, and nothing to do with me).
I sometimes use very specific ads pointing to products I am recommending within the article, and those are usually Amazon or eBay ones. I never consciously put ads on pages announcing deaths or other serious issues (I consciously don’t unless I made a mistake).
I do earn a small amount of revenue from the ads, but I’m never going to be able to retire on it – I just get a £60 deposit into my bank account every now and then when I hit that figure.
When I am browsing myself, I have no problem with normal ads. If I see one of interest, I will click on it. But I draw the line at repeated and obtrusive pop-up ones, and those local newspaper websites which are run collectively by The Mirror Group (also known as MGN, and part of Reach PLC). With those, the entire page is filled with ads and pop-ups.
For some years, I was using AdBlock Plus to stop them, and was very happy with it. However, I have tried twice recently to upgrade to the subscription service they offer due to some ads not being blocked in the free version, and it simply wouldn’t install. Oh, Eyeo GMBH (the software owner/publisher) happily accepted my subscription, but the upgrade simply wouldn’t do anything, and the installer told me to contact tech support. I did that, and they were fucking useless. Twice. They hadn’t got a clue what they were talking about and did the usual trick of trying to get me to uninstall things as if it were my fault, and then wanted me to try subscribing again – even though I had a clear active subscription to them within PayPal (actually, I had two subscriptions already, the first from an attempt in January to upgrade). No way was I going to set up a third.
I washed my hands of them there and then, removed AdBlock Plus from my system, cancelled the original subscription, got a refund for the second, and then went looking for an alternative. I soon found uBlock Origin.
This is what my local newspaper looks like without an ad blocker:
Let’s be clear, this is quite tame compared with what can happen on some pages. The web designers are amateurish beyond belief and can make it ten times worse than this quite often. All Reach/MGN websites – virtually every local news outlet in the country – is exactly the same. But this is what it looks like with uBlock Origin enabled:
It gets rid of everything. And this is what an article with an embedded video looks like:
That image is a frame from a video, which actually loads and plays – AdBlock would just block the video. And it also blocks ads on YouTube videos, so you don’t get a load of crap before the content you want.
First of all, uBlock Origin is open source, so it doesn’t cost anything. You can’t even donate (because I would if I could) – they refuse donations outright. But it bloody well works like all get out. It seems to stop everything, especially the ones that had begun to creep through with MGN/Reach.
As I said, a major benefit is that whereas AdBlock prevented videos being loaded or displayed (they’d just buffer permanently), and there appeared no way to get round that, uBlock doesn’t – but it still suppresses all the annoying ads. And disabling it then re-enabling it is extremely easy if something you want to see is blocked.
It is very light on resources, too. It runs on most popular browsers as an extension. I really recommend it.