Christopher Chelpka

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Five Popular Websites Just Got Blocked, Forever!

Read The Mind-Blowing Reason Why These Sites Got Blacklisted

For a long time, advertisements have been one of the most important ways for a creative types to get paid while making their work easily accessible to others. So when Apple released iOS 9 last month, which included the ability to block ads with a new slate of apps, the kerfluffle over how content should be paid for began again. And rightly so. When iPhone users like me start blocking ads, this gentleman’s agreement gets all mucked up. And we’re all left asking, “Who’s Gonna Pay for This Stuff?

Now I didn’t have to download one of the new apps because I already had a tool for filtering content (Umbrella Prosumer by OpenDNS). But still, why block ads at all? Especially if you appreciate good work and the people who make it. It seems a bit unfair.

I first blocked ads back when they were mostly whack-a-mole games and flashing fonts. It was like trying to read the Wall Street Journal at Peter Piper Pizza. You don’t see these much anymore. But in the last few years, a new class of advertising has come along that makes me wish for the days of whack-a-mole banners. I’m talking about clickbait, or native advertising as the advertisers like to call it. I’m talking about those little groups of pictures that tell you about things “around the web”—if only they were that innocuous. These ads are worse than annoying, they are obscene and fishing for a click in all the basest of ways.

Of course not all clickbait is obscene. “Five Updos That Will Make Your Day Shine” or “The Super-Awesome Dog Who Loves Himself This Marine” are fine by me. But more often than not these relatively benign links are next to pictures that don’t belong on the general-use web.

And that makes clickbait all the more frustrating. Why am I forced to see indecent pictures at the end of a report on Chipotle’s third quarter profits? Or why must I act fast and hide a link every time a family member shares a cat video that the kids want to watch?

Here’s the bottom line: I know that sex sells, but if you’re selling sex then I’m going to block you. It’s that simple.

Show me ads for backpacks, kids’ footwear, or a new literary journal. Tell me how much a I need to buy a home, shave my beard, or take an acting class. Share Dove’s latest tear-jerker, or  Volkswagon’s apologies, or a petition to change Tucson’s building codes. There’s a lot of options. But as long as you continue to put half-dressed people at the end of every article and next to every video, consider yourselves blacklisted. In fact, you’ve been blacklisted for a few months now, and wow, the internet is so much nicer without you! And by “you” I mean folks like:

  • gravity.com,
  • outbrain.com,
  • revcontent.com,
  • taboola.com,
  • and zergnet.com.
There are a whole lot more of these guys, just look at this always updated list.

Now, I can’t say that all native advertisers are willing to use obscene clickbait to earn money. In fact, I would love to hear about a company that doesn’t. I’d whitelist ‘em! But until I hear about an industry turnaround it’s hard to know what else to do.