I wonder why people use ad-blockers

Kevin Kilroy
3 min readSep 13, 2021
From JerseyDigs, although in this case maybe they don’t want credit

I’ve been using Opera for a little while, which has a built-in ad-blocker. I recently switched to Firefox because I discovered that Readwise doesn’t currently autosync with certain apps without the browser extension, which kind of defeats the point of having Readwise; so, I switched over to Firefox. And for the most part, it’s fine — it does tend to work more broadly than Opera; only slightly, but in some important (for me) areas. But Firefox doesn’t have a built-in ad-blocker¹, and I’d neglected to add one on just yet, figuring I’d see how things go for the time being.

For the most part it’s fine, but the screenshot is a good example of why someone like me, who isn’t fundamentally opposed to ads and understands why so many sites rely on them, still prefers to use an ad-blocker. The above is an article from a NJ-focused site I follow, and this is the first time I’ve opened an article on the site in Firefox. For one paragraph of text, I count five external ads on that screen, four of which are dynamic, of which one is actual video. (The left image under the Hilton Honors ad is an artist’s rendering of the new facility, and I think the ad for Jersey Digs’s Instagram is a bit of a gray area, so I’m choosing to be conservative and not count it.)

Like I said, I get why sites — especially local news sites, in this era — need to run ads. But there must be a happy medium somewhere, because if I have to disable ad-blocking to read a website just to be bombarded with these kinds of ads, I’m just not going to read that website. It’s not even just the number of ads; the vast majority of screen real estate is being used by advertisements, not text. And just to show you that I’m not trying to cherry-pick here, this is a shot with two paragraphs of text included:

Ibid

You already know what’s below the bottom paragraph of text; so, with two paragraphs of text visible, there are still three ads, all of which are dynamic (plus a popover that didn’t make it into the screenshot). In fact, although consecutive paragraphs of text are allowed to exist side-by-side a bit further down, there is nowhere you can go to on this page where there’s better than a 1:1 ratio of text to ads.

And again, this is not specifically a dig on Jersey Digs² — I only came across the site recently, and thus far I really appreciate the coverage they bring to the table, especially considering that as a Jersey City resident, my options for local coverage are usually centered on NYC. But it is a little bit frustrating that that’s often the tradeoff now: your options are either (1) broad coverage centered on major metropolises or national news, (2) local coverage with obtrusive ads, or (3) local coverage with an ad-blocker, denying those outlets the ad revenue they need to continue existing.

¹ Googling gives you mixed messages on this, but Firefox blocks trackers and whatnot by default, and offers some stricter settings. Ad-blocking is not turned on by default, and there doesn’t appear to be a native ad-blocker in Firefox.

² Pun very much intended.

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Kevin Kilroy

Poet and doctoral student in Writing Practices at SUNY Albany. Erstwhile drummer. Television addict. Traveler. Skier. Papa to two kitties.