Within minutes of browsing online, you're bound to see an advertisement. The average person gets bombarded with over 1,700 banner ads per month, but only sees half of them. They're a hassle and interruption to your task, which is no wonder why in the span of just one year, from 2018 to 2019, the total number of devices with ad blockers rose from 142 million to 615 million (source).
Digital advertising predictions show continual growth. Worldwide digital ad spending is predicted to reach over $375 billion by 2021. Experts predict that over the next two years, this spending will increase by a staggering $75 billion. Similar trends have been seen in social media advertising budgets, which have doubled worldwide, from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016 (source).
With so much advertising online - is there a better way? I'm going to outline 3 potential solutions below.
New web browsers such as Brave are offering improved privacy & security. Brave blocks ads & trackers that slow down your browsing experience and invade your privacy.
Browser plugins also exist, such as AdBlock, which will block ads on your behalf. It will "stop ads, improve browser speeds, and protect you online". Since 2015, they have participated in the Acceptable Ads program, where publishers agree to ensure their ads meet key criteria. Ads deemed as "non-intrusive" are shown to AdBlock users.
This solution works well for the individual, but has a negative impact on publishers. For example, websites like Wired and The Verge heavily reply on advertising revenue. Disabling/hiding ads means that these companies lose revenue, which ultimately may affect the operational capabilities of an organisation. According to one study, 144 million web surfers use ad blocking. That potentially adds up to a lot of lost jobs.
This solution won't work for everyone - but it's ideal for individuals looking to fund their venture or project. It allows content creators to create an online community of followers who are willing to fund and support them. Patreon provides a "home for your membership business with tools to delight fans", and access to a community of like minded creators. Amazingly, over 100,000 creators are using Patreon.
Followers/backers commit to a monthly payment to fund the project or individual, without the need for annoying advertising. It has the added advantage that income is regular and predictable. Other content creators have opted for PayPal or Stripe subscriptions - which works the same but without the Patreon platform & support.
The idea of online micropayments is simple, but the implementation is proving difficult. In a nutshell - while browsing online your browser could automatically pay publishers for articles & content you read/watch. A pre-agreed amount of money is seamlessly taken from your online wallet and paid directly to the publisher. It reduces the amount of middle men, removes the need for user profiling, and means that you can avoid seeing ads.
There're technical complications concerning security, privacy, animinity, secure payments, online currency and refunds - but Brave have begun to experiment with the solutions and possibilities.
We're hoping that this third solution grows in popularity, to reduce the cognitive load that advertisements cause users and reduce the average page load time. Privacy is also important, to keep user's browsing data and habits secret from advertisers.