There are a few ways to block ads, the most popular being browser add-ons. Each browser has its own plug-in system, and a myriad of ad blockers. I'll leave it up to you to find the one that works best for you.
What I would like to discuss, is how to use them to everyone's benefit. Some people turn on ad blockers, and block every ad that they can find, on every site. I believe that this isn't the best way to do it, and for a couple of reasons.
- Relevance: Most adverising networks try to give you ads that are related to whatever content you are currently reading. Sure, a lot of the time you won't see anything you want to click on, but blocking everything everywhere means that you won't ever see something that is relevant to you. Unlike television ads, you don't have to wait for the advertisement to be over to get back to the content you actually wanted.
- Money: Of course, like anything, money plays a very important part in the internet. People (like me) run websites to communicate with the world. Unfortunately, whether a site is large or small, if there is nothing for sale, then advertising is the only source of income. Don't get me wrong, putting a couple of ads on my site won't make me self-sufficient, but hardware costs money, my internet connection costs money, and my time is valuable to me. If everyone blocks all ads, then I have no chance to balance my books. If viewing a few ads doesn't cost you anything, but blocking them all costs content creators, then there is an imbalance.
There are, of course, some people who want to block all ads, and with good reason.
People who are on very slow and/or very limited internet connections might not be able to afford the bandwidth. If you're on dial-up internet (I'm sorry if you are!), then downloading a couple of ads on every page can be inconvenient, especially if you are using a browser that won't display the page until everything has been downloaded. In most cases this doesn't apply, as even the slowest of broadband connections can handle a page with a reasonable amount of ads. If you are on dial-up, block away!
People who visit "sketchy" sites on a regular basis might want to block ads as well. If that applies to you, and you likely know who you are, then by all means, block ads...
If you regularly have many tabs open on sites that display flash ads, you likely want to block them as well. Flash ads are notorious for consuming CPU cycles, and can slow your computer down substantially, especially if you are using an older machine or a netbook. This latter group of people can do what I suggest, and still not block everything.
Here's my idea. Blacklisting and whitelisting ads. It takes a little bit of effort in the beginning, but works out better in the long run. The two ideas are really just opposite sides of the same coin, and one might work better for you than the other. For blacklisting ads, you browse as you normally do, and if you visit a site that has irritating/too many ads, add the ad to your blacklist. After that, the ads won't show up again. Most people don't visit a huge number of sites, so this doesn't usually end up being very inconvenient. For whitelisting, you again browse as you normally do, but with all ads blocked by default. When you visit a site that you think is likely trustworthy, turn off ad blocking for that site. The site operator will be thankful, and all of that free content that you are being given won't cost him/her as much.
I would like to hear your ideas about blocking ads! Do you block all, some, or none? Do you whitelist or blacklist? Join the discussion in the comments section.