Thursday, May 27, 2010

minus the ads

The internet is a loud and busy enough place as it is, even before we consider the intrusive adverts. Just like the way TV adverts are louder than the programmes, so online ads are more garish and flickery than the pages they're hosted on.

Most people claim not to notice internet ads. But then, most people claim to be immune to advertising.

There is a way to remove adverts from the sites you look at. It's very quick and foolproof. It's also free and there's no catch.

First, stop using Internet Explorer and switch to Firefox. It does everything IE does that's any good and more besides, and it's opensource so isn't made by sending all your money to Bill Gates. You can download it free here.

Secondly, install the AdBlock plugin. Alice walks you through how to do it here.

You'll notice a clearer mindset when going online. But more vividly, you'll be amazed what going on other people's computers looks like; a riot of garish consumerist propaganda, especially when they're on things like Youtube and Facebook. You'll then keep asking people if they mind you installing AdBlock on their machines. And then they'll thank you for it.


Gyrus said...

It's true. I hate ads anyway, but just as a visceral experience, going on computers without Adblock is a nightmarish riot of annoyance. Why would anyone not use it?

Paul said...

Hi Merrick. I'm not sure that you're assertion that adverts are played louder than TV programmes is correct. In the UK at least there are rules governing that kind of stuff, and broadcasting companies face censure if they do it. There was something on BBC radio about it last year. I'm searching for a link as I type.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), the body responsible for writing the TV Advertising Code, has published a new rule on sound levels.

From 7 July, "advertisements must not be excessively noisy or strident.

"The maximum subjective loudness of advertisements must be consistent and in line with the maximum loudness of programmes and junction material."

The "Subjective" bit is important. A Cillit Bang ad immediately following a documentary about the sleeping habits of goldfish is likely to fall foul of the regs, whereas after a particularly strife-filled episode of Emmerdale, the noise differential would cause less concern.

Anyway, Rutger Hauer says it best in "The Osterman Weekend"

"What you've just witnessed is, in many ways, a life-sized video game. You saw a liar talk to a killer and you couldn't tell them apart. But hey, it's only television. As you may know, television programs are just the filler between attempts to steal your money. So if you want to save some, turn me off. It's a simple movement, done with the hand and what is left of your free will. The moment is now. My bet is you can't do it. But go ahead and try. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Am I still on?"

He still was when I watched.

Telly programmes are what they use to fill the time between the adverts, not the other way round. Common sense really. That's how they're funded after all.

Anyway, yup. I use firefox, and occasionally google chrome. When I maintained a website my site stats reckoned that close on 80% of my traffic was coming from firefox, with explorer making up most of the rest, and just a tiny percentage coming from chrome, opera, safari, et al.

merrick said...

Paul, I accept you're right abuot the regulations, it must just seem to me that they're louder due to a particular dislike of adverts (or perhaps that the regs aren't enforced that well).

It is encouraging how well Firefox has done, given the might of Microsoft. It's heartening for those of us who believe in co-operative action.

I'd not heard of the Osterman Weekend. But with that pedigree - Hauer straight after Blade Runner, Dennis Hopper, John Hurt, all directed by Peckinpah - I'm strongly suspecting I'd like it. Can you tell me more?

Paul said...

To be honest, it was bog-standard generic action hero stuff. I watched it while on holiday and there was a lot of convoluted stuff with people shooting each other. All I really remembered Hauer diving into a swimming pol, while bullets whizzed through the water around him, and the bit that I quoted. But that's what came to mind as soon as I saw this post. I googled a few things and found the film, then got the quote from IMDB. That also rated it as a turkey. The quote for me was the only thing that stuck. It was a memorable moment, Merrick! There must have been about 8 of us all sat watching this bollocks, when the lead character stands up and tells us we're all just sheep and that if we disagree the answer lies within us. Not one of us moved, althought there were a few wry smiles. It made so much sense. Private broadcasting companies, like free newspapers and many websites exist to sell advertising space, and indeed only exist because they sell advertising space.

It's a familiar enough pattern, I suppose. We accept a degree of harm to reap the benefits. So ultimately, if there's something we like on Channel 4 or ITV (and there are. I'm sure you enjoy watching Charlie Brooker, or that World In Action opened doors that our "betters" would rather have remained shut) we put up with the intrusion. In just the same way, we accept the pollution and carnage of private car ownership as a price worth paying for our percieved personal fredom and mobility.

Cost/benefit analysis. A rational society is not always the best thing.

Apologies by the way for the resposting of comments. I found there was more I wanted to add, and there was no way to edit.

Unknown said...

Click through rates on banners are down a huge amount, people have got wise to them, and sick of them. We very rarely get asked to produce them now compared with 5 years ago, and the music website I run was testament to the lack of clicks, the click revenue over the last 12 months is about £15 for us!!!

Dunc said...

I've had AdBlock for ages... Sometimes I actually forget that there's advertising on the internet.

As for the loudness of TV adverts... It may well be true that the peak loudness of the ads is no greater than the peak loudness of the programmes, but that overlooks the fact that the ads are much more heavily compressed, so every single sound hits that peak loudness, with the result that the gentle whisper of a light breeze in an ad is almost as loud as a nuclear explosion in the programme.