Blocking Ads in Streaming Apps – A Pipe Dream?

Since it’s release ten months ago, AdClear’s Advanced Protection feature has transformed ad blocking on Android. By using a certificate, AdClear is able to block encrypted ads. With most top sites migrating to HTTPS, most of our competitors have had to imitate Advanced Protection out of necessity.

The latest medium for ad serving is streaming apps. With each network wanting to create their own Hulu, many consumers have felt comfortable getting rid of cable. Though these apps are very convenient, they’re guilty of one of the most annoying (and for marketers, valuable) ad strategies: repetition. Ads strive to be impressionable, and showing it multiple times guarantees it. When a thirty-minute show takes two commercial breaks, catching up on your favorite show could repeatedly expose you to the same few ads for weeks at a time.

The kicker is that it’s becoming common practice for these apps to take control of your phone’s volume to keep you from muting ads. Thus, for thirty seconds each episode, Clorox might spiritually own part of your device. There is no reasoning: advertisers will stop at nothing to force and insure viewership of their ads. The only choice consumers have is an ad blocker.

Currently, there’s no reliable way to block ads on these apps. There are several reasons for this, chief possibly being that a good amount of streaming services refuse to run with an ad blocker enabled. This is true for most cable network apps that feel obligated to protect the programming they’ve only recently made available online.

Is the security of these apps impenetrable, at least to the point of infeasibility for a consumer product? Not in the least. We feel confident that we will figure it out, and if not, the open source community has never had a problem they couldn’t tackle. There will also be the point of working with the functionality of these apps. It would be disappointing for ads to be replaced with a black screen for the same amount of time. Expect big changes on this front as he head into the new year.

To support SEVEN’s development, try out AdClear for Android. We’d love to hear your feedback in our Beta program. You’ll be able to test out updates before they’re released. If you’re interested, contact me using the email address below. It’s available for free from our website. We also recently released the AdClear Lite extension for Safari and Samsung Browser. We also have a special announcement: AdClear for iOS is coming soon! Email me for details on its beta program.

For inquiries, contact:
Christian Sandlin
csandlin@seven.com

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Why Google Stays Silent

Besides their AMP initiative, Google has stayed silent during the “ad blocker wars.” Perhaps it’s because there isn’t much to worry about. Only 2.2% of Americans use ad bloc…

Source: Why Google Stays Silent

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Why Google Stays Silent

Besides their AMP initiative, Google has stayed silent during the “ad blocker wars.” Perhaps it’s because there isn’t much to worry about. Only 2.2% of Americans use ad blockers, and Americans are now spending more time in apps than watching TV. Google may not be giving an opinion because they don’t want to. As creators of an ad blocker ourselves, we’d like to walk through why this is.

With the release of Android Nougat, Google has stopped phones from being able to filter encrypted traffic. Ads for Google, YouTube, Facebook, and more all utilize encryption in order to serve ads. AdClear’s Advanced Protection, which normally blocks these ads, cannot be installed. For the time being, Nougat users will have little means to block these ads.

This also hearkens back to AMP, whose end goal is to have ads not be data intensive. Google now has the tools to define the scope of the debate moving forward. AMP addresses several of the key annoyances of mobile advertising (loading speed, data use) while keeping the ones that are annoying by design (tracking, flying carpets). The rules for an AMP-approved ad are nowhere near strenuous.

What’s brilliant is that it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees. Google has done an impressionable amount of good for the world, so when they have a bad product or make a bad decision, most don’t bat an eye. One could even assume that the average Android user doesn’t know which ads come from Google (probably 99% of them). This is the Google mantra: invent, but don’t progress. The scope of the AMP project gives us something to gawk at while the policies we loathe remain in place. Look for this pattern to continue going forward.

You can block ads, trackers, and more on your Android device by using AdClear, available for free from our website. We also recently released the AdClear Lite extension for Safari and Samsung Browser.

For inquiries, contact:
Christian Sandlin
csandlin@seven.com

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The Acceptable Ads Platform: A Dissection

AdBlock Plus made headlines today on the reveal of its new Acceptable Ads platform, wherein sites display ads that meet certain criteria for ad blocker users. As the leading voice of ad blockers, Eyeo making this move at this particular time seems like relention; the debate between ad publishers and ad blockers has reached a head this year, and, for better or worse, Eyeo’s been the go-to voice for our community in headlines and conferences. By stamping its name on an ad platform, it’s like they’re making a plea deal.

The real shocker here is the lack of user input. It doesn’t seem like anyone knew that this announcement was coming, and user reactions have reflected this. This isn’t a very popular move. Their stake in this platform has really made this surprise announcement garner as much vitriol (justifiably or not) as possible. When ad blocker users have still yet to have any cemented motives, the reactions to this move could be used to label them as unfair thieves. If there’s a mass migration away from Adblock Plus, what will the repercussions be?

Taken at face value, this is a company, at the expense of its user base, reversing its business plan to enter an industry with heavily established players (featuring the biggest company in the world) who are already looking to reform their advertisements. Tracker removal seems to be a major point for Eyeo, but as of now, they’ve made no statements about this network being able to stop malware intrusion. Malvertising has plagued both Google and Yahoo’s networks, and we’re skeptical to believe the Acceptable Ads program has the answers. The vetting process for these ads would need to be stringent on a level that would require significant resources to monitor were the platform to take off. This is irrelevant though, as advertisers would never sacrifice the clear advantages they have to join this network.

Of course, what this comes down to is the ramifications on a debate that’s still in its infancy. Is the change on the internet that we’re fighting for just about trackers and clickbait? Has it not evolved to villainy on the internet in general? Why are ad blockers now offering additional privacy and security services?

You can block ads, trackers, and more on your Android device by using AdClear, available for free from our website. We also recently released the AdClear Lite extension for Safari and Samsung Browser.

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In Blocking Ad Blockers, Facebook Misses the Point

A recent revelation has been online advertisers acknowledging public disapproval of their strategies. They’ve stated that they will need to make the ad experience rewarding for the consumer. They’ve also mentioned that it will take time to change things, yet they deride and punish ad blocker users with paywalls or content restriction. The usual suspects have been news sites or content aggregators, like Forbes or Wired. Now the big dogs are involved. Facebook is now claiming that their ads are unblockable.

Facebook has tried to make their ad experience less noticeable. For some time now, users have seen ads for companies whose pages a few friends like rather than one that relies solely on targeting, but it’s only putting lipstick on a pig. None of these ads are the revolutionary user-friendly experiences that advertisers have alluded to creating. In an ideal world where Facebook’s unblockable ads have permanence, this would only reset the bounds of the argument and allow users to once again become frustrated.

Google’s AMP initiative at least has a defined goal: to keep ads from harming loading speeds and revising how ads are served. This refreshing of online advertising still has yet to be defined, as Silicon Valley has the resources to wage a war of attrition against us and win, but they are competing against consumer attitudes rather than ad blockers. Consumers are aware of how morally corrupt online advertising is, so beating people over the head with uncompromised capitalism is only going to cause trouble.

In fact, ad blockers–both on home computers and mobile devices–have achieved symbiosis with the open source community. With many circumvention breakthroughs, what’s been good for the goose has been good for the gander. Ad blocking apps, plugins, and browsers are all guaranteed to make use of some type of open source tools. This is a peaceful environment for all involved, and from our experience, users have even felt inclined to help us out of good nature. Maybe the real battle is ideological; corporatism versus individualism.

Over the course of writing this article, Facebook’s ads have already been circumvented. We are making progress on a fix ourselves. Coming from us, it is always a game of chess with the biggest online platforms, and the ad blocking community will never face an insurmountable challenge. To take control over how you browse on your Android phone, download AdClear. It’s free, and it blocks encrypted ads, primarily used on major sites like Facebook. We also recently released the AdClear Lite extension for Safari and Samsung Browser.

For inquiries, contact:
Christian Sandlin
csandlin@seven.com

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China Could Ban Ad Blocking, and You Might Be at Risk.

#AdClear #AdBlocker #Android #China

There’s recently been some frightening news out of China about consumer rights. The Chinese government just published its new Internet Advertising Interim Measures, which seem to be a response to hacking campaigns. The HummingBad virus is particularly alarming because Yingmob, the hackers behind the virus, are actually a subsidiary of MIG Unmobi Technology Inc. Having access to considerable financial resources increases the power of hackers tenfold.

The new rules center around injecting legitimacy into the advertising model and keeping each party honest. If illegal advertising is creeping into the actual market, China should feel justified in putting its foot down for the sake of the world. HummingBad alone has stolen thousands of people’s identities and has the computing power to commit large acts of cyber terror.

Where does this concern ad blockers? Though the wording is vague, Article XVI can be interpreted as a ban on ad blockers, as it prohibits blocking (or otherwise stopping) another business’s legitimate ad. This could also be about malvertising, but the language may be broad in scope to cover both. This could spoil what was a decent set of rules to protect and empower consumers.

Despite all the nefarious activity, internet advertising in China is experiencing a golden age. eMarketer predicts Chinese digital ad spending for 2016 to be 30% higher than last year; they also believe that number should double by 2020. This comes in spite of China’s recent period of economic stagnation.

Article XVI has yet to change, and there’s still a month before these rules go into effect. A lot can change, and an outcry from ad blocking users and companies should be expected. Whatever the end result may be, the combination of a booming industry, bear market, and large-scale malvertising spells trouble for Chinese citizens. The necessity of smartphones in daily life is allowing advertisers and the government (if taking Article XVI at face value) to remove any semblance of choice from the internet user. Banning ad blockers will free up millions of people to be infected with malware.

We will continue to update users on the Interim Measures as we move closer to its September 1st implementation. The safety of Android phones around the globe is at an all-time low for the next month, as hackers will make use of the business resources they have while they still can. If you are an Android user, you might want to download AdClear. It’s free, and it blocks encrypted ads, noted for being a hotbed for malware. We also recently released the AdClear Lite extension for Safari and Samsung Browser.

For inquiries, contact:
Christian Sandlin
csandlin@seven.com

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Mobile Ads Will Only Get Worse

Many of our users download AdClear as a last resort, a recognition of the anti-consumer experience that is mobile internet browsing. Tracking, targeting, and infecting consumers make advertising models so valuable, but this is nowhere near the precipice.

The 2016 Internet Trends report by Mary Meeker highlights how little the mobile platform is indexed. Compared to legacy media, mobile advertising is where a quarter of advertising media is targeted, but it only makes up 12% of total ad spending in the U.S.. There’s around 22 billion dollars worth of opportunity in that difference.

That is to say that this is going to get much worse. This has always been about money, and there is a large pot waiting to be claimed. Look at humming bad, which we mentioned last week. They were able to defraud advertisers for 300k a month. Sitting money will bring in all types of parties to try and claim it. This is why ransomware and infected ads are so prevalent. Expect the trend to continue.

To remain safe from advertisers on your Android device, download AdClear. It’s free, and it blocks encrypted ads, noted for being a hotbed for malware. We also recently released the AdClear Lite extension for Safari and Samsung Browser.

For inquiries, contact:
Christian Sandlin
csandlin@seven.com

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