Like Rob, I’m intrigued by AdBlock Plus’ decision to start letting some ‘acceptable’ ads go unblocked by default. This is a very decent way to make revenue – you can charge advertising companies who wish to be audited – but AdBlock Plus won’t be able to get away with it. It simply won’t be tolerated by the extension’s userbase. Why? People feel the pain of loss more sharply than the pleasure of gain. Ever released a new version of a product that simultaneously added ten wonderful new things and took away a tiny bit of little-used functionality? If you have, you know what I’m talking about.
The correct way to introduce selective ad blocking is to either release it as a completely separate, differently-branded product, or to add it to software that previously lacked ad blocking altogether. Wrap it in ‘make the Internet better’ branding, call it ‘OccupyAdvertising’ or something, and you’re good to go.
Some will argue that AdBlock Plus’ new default settings will win out, because people don’t change settings. Not so. People don’t change most settings because they don’t care about them – if the default search engine’s Bing, it stays Bing. But look at the percentage of people who futz with something they do care about, like Facebook’s obtuse privacy settings – the majority can’t set them correctly, but try to set them they do. If it’s important enough, people will change it. And what’s most important to the users of a extension called ‘AdBlock Plus’?