Ad Blocking Cat and Mouse Game

There is a little war going on between web ad companies and ad blocking software. For examples of ad blocking software see AdBlock and Firefox’s new tracking protection. The latter focuses on blocking tracking software some of which is ads. I don’t use AdBlock but I do have Firefox’s tracking protection enabled.

One of the reasons ad blocking software works is that ads are typically served from an ad network, not directly from the website the user is visiting.  Specifically, the browser makes a separate connection to a different host to get the ad content. This makes ads easy to distinguish an ad from the rest of the site’s content.

I wonder how long the ad blocking cat and mouse game will go on before the sites that are most reliant on ads simply switch to proxying the ad content through their website. This would add some cost to running the site but it would make it much more difficult to identify which parts of the site are real content and which parts are ads.

Firefox Tracking Protection

So here’s something new I learned today… Firefox has a tracking protection mode.

For those not aware, many (most?) websites include tracking Javascript which provides third parties and the website owner with information about you. It’s not all evil but it does invade your privacy.
Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Security and Privacy 2015
With tracking protection enabled Firefox will block known trackers and has the nice side effect of providing a major browsing speed up.

For a while I’ve configured Firefox to disable third-party cookies. I think it’s time to add enabling tracking protection to my list of new installation steps.

It’s important for the web that no single browser ever gets to the dominance that IE once had. Firefox dethroned IE but now Chrome is becoming dominant. It’s doubtful Chrome would ever implement privacy protecting feature like this – it hurts Google’s primary advertising business too much. If you care about the web and your privacy, consider using Firefox. A healthy number of Firefox users keeps the rest of the web browsers honest.

Things that interest me

This work by Dan Siemon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada.