Irreal readers who have been around for a while know of my deep and abiding hatred for adtech, a term used here to mean the technology that advertisers use to spy on and track Web users. I’ve written before that I consider legitimate advertising a fair cost for the content that it’s paying for but I really, really don’t like tracking. As a partial fix for that I use Ghostery to block tracking ads. Sadly for the advertisers, that means that almost all ads are blocked but that’s on the advertisers. I have the “do not track” bit set on my browsers but, of course, that’s almost universally ignored. Hence Ghostery.
Doc Searls over at Art+Marketing has an article up entitled Brands need to fire adtech. I can only agree. Searls explains in detail why adtech is a terrible practice, why it’s mostly fraud, how it’s a major malware vector, and, most importantly for advertisers, why it doesn’t work. The recent kerfuffle involving Google ads appearing next to what many consider “offensive content” could finally be the last straw. Many companies are refusing to place ads with YouTube and more and joining the movement.
In the meantime, the EU will make tracking illegal starting in May 2018. The fines for breaking that law are truly breathtaking. That doesn’t help those of us in the U.S. of course but users are getting better and better tools with which to fight back. Ghostery and its siblings are only the beginning. Searls says that new technology is coming that will allow advertisers to make money without resorting to the despicable practice of tracking and spying on their customers. It can’t come too soon.