Was the Great Ad Blocker Freakout of 2015 Justified?

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Six months ago, after years of power surfers happily using ad blockers with no real problems, Apple decided to ruin things for everyone by supporting ad blocking in its products. Since everything Apple does is, by definition, the most pivotal event ever in the tech world—if you happen to work in the online journalism biz, anyway—this caused instant panic in the online journalism biz. Suddenly you could hardly click your mouse without running into a site nagging you about your ad blocker, or even flatly refusing to allow you in unless you turned the blocker off.

It’s time to take stock. Was this panic justified? The use of ad-blocking apps has certainly grown over the past few years, but has it specifically skyrocketed since Apple’s announcement? I’m unable to find any reliable data on this score, and my gut tells me that the panic over this was probably unjustified, as panic usually is.

Needless to say, though, my gut is not infallible. I’d prefer actual evidence. With the benefit of several months for tempers to calm, I think it’s time for someone to examine this and tell us what’s really happened. Who out there has the data to do this?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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