In Defence of Ad-Blockers: A Freelancer Writer’s Perspective

If there is one internet debate that will never go away, it’s the one about ad-blockers. I recently purchased a new laptop. I’m incredibly pleased with it. It has a Solid State Drive which I feel has already been an immense improvement on my daily productivity (more on SSDs in another post though).

For many years on my previous laptops, I used AdBlock Plus and found it an invaluable tool when surfing the web for play and for work. I spent (and spend) a lot of time on the internet. It’s my job, after all. I research for the articles I write, pick up ideas and keep up with trends in the world of freelance writing.

the debate over ads and ad blockers

When I got this new laptop about a month ago, I decided to give it a go without using any Adblocker. That lasted just a few days; I couldn’t stand it any more. And this, my friends, is where I decide I will continue to use Adblockers until advertisers get their acts together and stop being so darned intrusive and counterproductive to what I am trying to achieve.

Ads Are Still Too Intrusive

Admittedly, the penchant for pop-ups, pop-unders and ads that will only close when you use Windows Task Manager is not as bad as it was, but they are still there. I have never bought a product or service that has thrust itself into my face and I am unlikely to ever start doing so. I don’t want to spend any of my working time closing ads I don’t want to follow or click.

Cookies Follow You Around

Cookies can be a wonderful thing when used to tailor targeted advertising for products and services I have looked at and may be interested in. The problem is that when I’m web researching for my work, I get ads related to those things I’ve been researching and writing about. For example, for past clients I have written about online gambling, dating and incontinence. I even once wrote some product descriptions for sex toys. This is separate from my personal web surfing because I don’t gamble, am not single, don’t have problems with my bladder, and know where to get bedroom aids if I needed some. Cookies do not have the AI to separate my work from my life.

Page Loading Times

Time is money and if I have to wait longer to load a page with content I’m researching because you want to show me a video or a pop-up, then your advertisement (which I have no intention of clicking) is costing me money. YouTube videos can be a great resource for me. The last thing I want to do is sit through a three-minute ad to watch a 25 second video clip. Don’t think of it as a freelancer getting something for nothing, see it as a freelancer protecting his revenue stream and not wanting to waste his time. Because it’s a waste of my time and it’s a waste of your time too.

Data Protection

Although I don’t qualify under data protection (99.999999999999% of what I write is freely available on the web, the rest is usually internal business stuff that wouldn’t interest anyone else), I do have details I want to protect, company information for my clients and, of course, my own banking details. Ads still allow for malware and phishing and I simply cannot allow that when my laptop is my home office. I’m not going to leave a window open when I go on holiday so don’t ask me not to secure my office against these attacks when I’m using my laptop for 8 hours a day.

Emails

Did you know that when you don’t use an Adblocker and you’re sending lots of emails every day, the browser picks up on keywords in those emails in an attempt to tailor adverts? This can be potentially embarrassing or harrowing as Kate (another freelance writer) indicates in this Guardian article. If you write an article about Salesforce for a client (as I do regularly) you can expect to then get regular ads for business SaaS solutions. If you write product descriptions for women’s underwear as a 42-year-old man, you’ll get those too.

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