Better incentives for showing web ads

Thu, Nov 11, 2021 2-minute read

I use ad blockers on all my devices. Still, I understand that the sites I enjoy depend on ad revenue. When a site I visit a lot asks me to add them to my blocker's "allow list", I will (unless they've plastered a dozen ads across each page). Individual websites are the wrong entities to be asking for that permission, though.

Few websites directly sell the ads they display. Instead, they'll contract that process out to giant ad networks like Google AdSense, Amazon Publisher Services, or dozens of other companies specializing in embedding relevant ads in the appropriate sites. Those are the companies who should be asking me for permission to show their advertisements. If an ad network earns a reputation for serving legitimate ads, free of malware, I won't mind seeing their ads on a site I like to visit. If another network develops a bad name for showing questionable ads or serving JavaScript Bitcoin miners, I don't want to see their junk on any website, even if I'm a fan of that site.

An ad blocker that asked me to permit ads from specific networks, or to block them from others, would be an improvement for all reputable actors involved. While almost no one wants to see advertising, users could choose to see ads from only well-behaved networks to support the sites they enjoy. Ad networks would gain viewers by acting decently and regulating themselves. Websites could increase revenue by working with legitimate ad networks and avoiding shady ones.

Everyone involved would have an incentive to make decisions that benefit each other. That sounds much better than the mess we have now.