The Cost Of Pop-Ups

by Dish Staff

Ethan Zuckerman, who helped invent the pop-up ad, expresses regret about where ads have taken the Internet:

I have come to believe that advertising is the original sin of the web. The fallen state of our Internet is a direct, if unintentional, consequence of choosing advertising as the default model to support online content and services. Through successive rounds of innovation and investor storytime, we’ve trained Internet users to expect that everything they say and do online will be aggregated into profiles (which they cannot review, challenge, or change) that shape both what ads and what content they see. Outrage over experimental manipulation of these profiles by social networks and dating companies has led to heated debates amongst the technologically savvy, but hasn’t shrunk the user bases of these services, as users now accept that this sort of manipulation is an integral part of the online experience.

Users have been so well trained to expect surveillance that even when widespread, clandestine government surveillance was revealed by a whistleblower, there has been little organized, public demand for reform and change.

Zuckerman encourages sites to “charge for services and protect users’ privacy.” Meanwhile, DJ Pangburn is skeptical users would cough up the cash for an internet without ads:

Paying for an ad-free internet would be cheaper than cable, but nearly zero people do so.

By dividing digital advertising spending in the UK in 2013 (£6.4 billion) by the total number of UK internet users (45 million), Ebuzzing found that an ad-free internet would cost around £140 ($232.24) a year. The survey also found that 98 percent of UK consumers would be unwilling to pay that amount of money for an ad-free internet.