Why I Love Relevant Ads (And I Suspect You Do Too!)

Cartoon Man Watching TV

A small battle just ended in the airways of Canadian broadcast television. It was around a form of ad blocking.

You see, when Canadian TV simulcasts an American program the US-based ads get swapped-out for Canadian ads. It's a process call simultaneous substitution, or simsub.

Most of the time, Canadians don't mind. Except on Super Bowl Sunday. Apparently Canadians really want to see those American TV ads. So much so, our broadcast regulator (the CRTC) now mandates Canadian channels must carry the US ads during Super Bowl. [REF: 1]

Think about it. It's a form of ad blocking that's being REMOVED.

Why? Because those US Super Bowl ads are relevant while we watch the big game. We're in an entertainment frame of mind. We perceive those ads as another form of entertainment. They're usually interesting and unique. That makes them relevant to our viewing experience. So bring it on we say!

Relevancy: Being connected with the matter at hand

The matter at hand will be my own concerns, needs and interests. These get stirred by what I'm reading or watching or listening to.

Put all those matters together and show me relevant ads, I say. So when I'm ready to buy, I know where to shop.

Because there will come a time when I'll be ready to shop. I don't deny it. I'm a consumer. Make it easy for me to make my best consumption choice.

Currently, ad-serving systems make educated guesses to serve us relevant ads. For example, Google began with your search keywords. Now they can add your browsing history and even mine your Gmail account. It's all about building a profile of relevancy about you. But it's still just educated guessing.

There's a way we can make it easier for advertisers to be relevant. More about that below …

I love it when ads are relevant

Relevant ads to me are helpful ads. Educational ads. And I'll be pleased to see ads like that all day long.

On the other hand, about 200 million people around the world use ad blockers of some form. In Canada, almost 20% of desktop browsers use ad blockers. [REF: 2]

But in my opinion, ad blocking is using a sledge hammer to do a tack hammer's job. An ad blocker is a broad statement saying nothing is relevant. Really? Are you sure?

I don't need everything blocked. Just don't show me ads that are irrelevant to my concerns, needs or interests.

I'm okay with ads that are specific to my frame-of-mind when I'm currently engaged on a website.

As readers we can all help move the relevancy filter along by participating in AdChoices. If you haven't realized, AdChoices is that little blue triangle icon appearing in the corner of many online ads. Click the little icon and you can explore ways to help improve your relevancy journey.

But Maybe You Just Want the Sledgehammer …

Even so, you may be left wondering, "How can I remove ads from Firefox (or Chrome, or Edge)?"

That's okay. It's your web browsing experience.

AdChoices only covers participating AdChoices ads. There are other ad services out there not participating. And many of them either fail at relevancy or appear annoyingly as GIFs and intrusive pop-ups.

Here are some ad blocking options you can explore:

  • Adblock Plus: Use Facebook, YouTube, browse the web without annoying ads. https://adblockplus.org/

  • Firefox Focus: For Safari users on iOS. Focus lets you block more than ads. It blocks many other trackers, like those used for analytics and social media. Download from the Apple App Store. https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1055677337

  • Adguard: Block ads on a deeper level than browser extensions. It gives you control in apps like Skype and uTorrent too. Adguard even tries to clean up the look of a webpage with its ads removed. https://adguard.com/

  • uBlock: Touting a fast, memory-efficient implementation, uBlock is an open source solution for the Windows environment. https://www.ublock.org/

  • Purify: uBlock's cousin-app in the iOS realm, for iPhones and iPads. https://www.purify-app.com/

  • NoScript: Another open source extension for the Firefox browser. It should also work on other Mozilla-based browsers. This one allows you to customize which websites can serve you Java, JavaScript, Flash and other plugins. https://noscript.net/

    CNET produced a short info-packed video about why you might want to control website scripts. They show how NoScript is one way to protect yourself. https://youtu.be/GzBqnLgOzwM

If you've got a favourite ad blocker that I've missed, please share it below with a comment.

[REF 1: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/court-rules-against-bells-attempt-to-swap-super-bowl-commercials/article31722299/]

[REF 2: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/adblock-plus-facebook-in-cat-and-mouse-game-over-ad-blocking/article31382742/]

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