A rallying call against Firefox,
or an opportunity to innovate?
A Firefox plugin called Adblock Plus enables users to visit websites without encountering the Flash, text-based or banner ads that typically accompany free content.
The application blocks Google AdSense messages in addition to other sponsored messages.
While The New York Times suggests the product can wield "extreme menace" to the online advertising model, major players like Google and CNN have decided to ignore it for now.
Websites that perceive ad-blocking as something akin to content theft are lashing out against Firefox itself. An advocacy site called whyfirefoxisblocked.com rebukes users with the headline, "You’ve reached this page because the site you were trying to visit now blocks the Firefox browser."
Adblock Plus was developed by Wladimir Palant, who estimates there are approximately 2.5 million Adblock users around the world. And "[the] numbers are rising steadily," at the rate of 300,000 to 400,000 users each month.
Palant added, "There is only one reliable way to make sure your ads aren’t blocked - make sure the users don’t want to block them."
It is unclear how users will be able to select ads they prefer to see. Adblock does not currently make this possible, but those willing to go to the trouble may be able to modify the application, which is open source-based.
Palant says websites could also "serve ads from their own servers," enabling them to "escape common filter rules […] usually targeted at large advertising servers."
The New York Times dubbed Adblock the "TiVo for the computer," which may bring an ironic ray of light to the bigger picture. Last July a toymaker allegedly produced the first TiVo-proof advertisement.