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Old 04-17-2002, 07:39 PM   #1
winguides
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Angry AdSubtract Now Blocking Text Links

I just installed AdSubtract Pro (2.52) trial to see how much it blocked of my site and I noticed that it now removes CJ and LinkShare text links as well.

Is this new? How can they justify modifying our content as it doesn't "save bandwidth" to remove a few words and a link? It makes articles with nested links look they haven't been proof-read or formatted properly.

I wonder how much they would like it if every site added a link to a free version of AdSubtract (not that I'm suggesting anyone does that) so that they have people using "stealing" their service for free.

On the other hand this might provide a way to stop AdSubtract just enclose your entire page in a CJ link voila no content!
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Old 04-17-2002, 08:03 PM   #2
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I wonder if somebody (you?) can come up with a clever way to do this ad-subtract blocking

For example half a CJ link in a comment tag at the top, and the other half in a comment tag at the bottom, and use JavaScript or something to give the user a message saying they're blocked?
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Old 04-17-2002, 09:11 PM   #3
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You can detect the blocking software, and then send them to a page telling them your site doesn't accomodate to freeloaders.

I've seen a few scripts around that do this. Sorry that I don't have any links to give, but i'm sure someone here knows them.

You can send them to another page, that prints out anything you want.

You might could make a drop down dhtml layer and hold the links in a .js file. I'm not sure if it would work or not. But, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't make special means to try and cater to these guys. I would perfer to block them out completely. Really get the message across.

If everyone started blocking people who used these blockers, then they would be rendered useless. I'm working on a site now that will be using ads and things. I will talk with my boss about putting blocks on people with ad blockers and see if he will go for it. Not sure he will since he is wanting alot more traffic, but I will try. It's a highly branded website that has partnerships with a few other highly branded websites, so perhaps if other sites see the trend they will follow suit. No promises, as the decision isn't mine.

Unfortunately, it would take alot of websites doing this before any real impact was felt. If you block them out and your competitors don't, they will just go elsewhere ad free.

You would save you money on resources since your not going to be wasting them on someone who isn't going to be able to make you any money. If your website depends on ads and text links for cash then a user is only worth what you can make off them. If you can't make any money off them, then your better off without them IMO.

Last edited by clay; 04-17-2002 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 04-18-2002, 10:37 PM   #4
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I find it really disheartening that they are blocking text links but they usually block cookies anyway which made the majortiy of tet links useless any how.

They have no excuse for blocking text links though as thats what they wanted to achieve so they claimed originally a better type of advertisment for the consumer and no bloat now they have changed there aim to elimante all ads no matter what for any reason.

Is the text links an option? I can't imagine to many people wanting to use it.
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Old 04-18-2002, 10:54 PM   #5
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I'm wondering if they will start blocking out paid search engine listings?

If any of these blocking companies (I don't know specifically about Ad Subtract) make their money by selling upgrades, I'd imagine they need to find more things to block to make the upgrade worthwhile?
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Old 04-18-2002, 11:21 PM   #6
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they will eventually block that much you may as well use lynx as your browser
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Old 04-19-2002, 04:02 AM   #7
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Why dont all we geeks discuss what is the best way to go around it, as this ad-blocking is otherwise going to kill us

I had written a programm http://www.phpbuddy.com/report.php?d...article.php~20 but this is mostly dosent work coz new ad-blockers dont sent a browser agent string may be this can be a first layer of defence, but I think we need multiple defencers in our code that checks for a couple of things

I am willing to work on a new version, but It would be great if we would discuss what is the best way to get around with it, If anyone wants to work with me on this thing I would be glad.
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Old 04-19-2002, 04:17 AM   #8
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This thread is a good place to start.
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Old 04-19-2002, 04:27 AM   #9
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Unfortunately AdSubtract is "smart" (deceptive) enough to not modify any of the user agents values so you can't tell when someone is using it to view the site -- it's totally transparent from the server end.

Quote:
Is the text links an option? I can't imagine to many people wanting to use it.
Nope, all on-the-page adverts are bunched together banners, cubes, buttons and text links as a filter called "Advertisements". All or nothing.

Quote:
I'm wondering if they will start blocking out paid search engine listings?
Had a quick look at the search results from MSN and they are removing some of the "Featured Sites". On Overture they remove the "Cost to Advertiser:" part but I'm not sure it that effects anything else? Didn't check the other ones but it looks like they're building that functionality in, if not already.

It's pretty sad that these guys make their money simply by ripping off other people -- any other industry and they would be shutdown... but who's going to fight to save the banner ad?
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Old 04-19-2002, 05:34 AM   #10
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I reckon there is more people who use adblocking software which is forced upon them than there is who download it and install it them selves e.g universitys/schools/libarys/buisnesses are more like to install the software these days on http server levels and stuff, its these peopel that need to be targetted to try and get rid of it as this is where alot of traffic comes from.



Its also getting worse since these ad blockers are shipped with norton anti virus 2002 and nearly every new modem you can get, the problem is only getting worse.


The easiest way around the problem is to sell all ads yourself, and make sure the images reside on the same domain they are called from and don't try to use an ad servering as they will probably be able to pick it up
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Old 04-19-2002, 07:43 AM   #11
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There has to be a way to block these specific users.

I had an idea that would work. However, I don't think anyone would use due to what it required. It basically consisted of assigning your surfer a unique id, then sending that id to an ad company to see if it reached them. A second query to the ad company would ask, hey did you get that first query, and the ad company would look up the unique ID and return, yep it's a good person, give them access. If it didn't return the unique ID, then it would say, nope they have a blocker don't give them content.

Of course, there are a few issues with that. Doing such a thing on plain html pages wouldn't be very easy at all. If you put it in javascript, the browser could just not run javascript and then it wouldn't work. It would be rather easy in perl, or php to do that. But, then your faced with other issues, such as what if the ad companies server goes down. If you didn't program it to check for a response, then you might end up blocking out everyone.

In the end, it may be more trouble than it's worth to do something like that. Or use more total resources checking then actually showing the page.

Does anyone know if it would block SSI links? Make a simple hello world script that prints out your links. My guess is that they would be blocked, but it might be worth a try. Another thing is using your own rotation software. But, then your looking at alot more work, and alot more resources again.

I think before long, someone will have to step up and sue them. I view it like a hacker. Thats what this basically is. A program that hacks your html output and alters it to be ad free. With a hacker, you can change your passwords. And fix the security holes. But, he will just find another security hole later and your back where you started. Same here I think. You can make scripts to check for user_agents. But, they will just make an adjustment so you can't do that. You can put in a check here. And they will just come up with a way of getting around it. Back and forth, back and forth. It will stay that way until someone takes legal action against these companies. In the end, I think thats going to be the only way of getting rid of these things. And then we are still going to have old versions floating around, and illegal versions going around. However, it would be a step in the right direction.

Why is this legal? Lets take a look at exactly what is going on here. And also, look at other similiar things that use ads and what would happen if something like this happened to them.

These programs are basically taking a complete viewing. And breaking it up to only show the highlights. Even more, they are selling this "improved" content without the permission of the person who made the content. They aren't selling there own unique content. They are selling a program that will bring you the highlights of someone elses viewing in a way they see fit.

So, what if a program took movies, cut out all of the slow parts, blurred out products being used in the movies(such as a coke can), and sold that movie as there own for a cheaper price? Would that not being doing the same thing that these ad blockers do to websites? Only the content is updated free of charge for them and theres alot more content available.

What if another newspaper decided to sell only the articles from the local newspaper. The same content available from the times, only without the ads. Would this be legal? Would this not be the exact same thing these people are doing, only instead of to 1 paper, millions?

Of course, the main arguement I've heard in defense of these ad blockers, is that it's the users right to have what he wants on there computer. I agree. However, that right does NOT and should NOT consist of them picking just the content they wanted. They have a choice of all the page in an unedited manner, or none of the page. And they don't need a program to do that. You either buy the movie, or you don't. You either buy the newspaper, or you don't. Picking and choosing what you want should not be a choice.

Why should webmasters have to work so hard against protecting there content against a currently LEGAL program? What gives these companies the right to edit copywrited material without permission across on material they want?

I think the real question is who will be the one to step up and take action. Unfortunately I work 80+ hrs a week and don't have the time to spend on such a thing. I do know people who do have the time and resources, however they have been reluctant thusfar because it wasn't really cutting on their profits since they didn't rely on banner ads. I've never seen a program that blocked my ads either. However, they do rely on text links. Maybe this will be enough to drive them over the edge.

Wonder if CJ would take action since they are the most recent target. You know it would have to cut down on there sales alot more than regular publishers. You might only feel 1 or 2 sales lost. However, CJ has that many loses X every publisher they have.

In the end, I think the only way of taking care of these people, will be to legally put them out of business.
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Old 04-19-2002, 07:51 AM   #12
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That seems to be a pretty decent argument. I'll have to read it more closely and look at the law, but so far I'm convinced.

Last edited by epilogue; 04-19-2002 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 04-19-2002, 08:49 AM   #13
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I think we need a good enough solution X N, rather than a perfect solution X 1

For example:
- Block by agent
- When you serve a banner, serve it via some script which checks if it's been loaded, and count the number of banners served to a particular IP in the last hour or whatever. Also count the number of pages loaded by a particular IP in the last hour. If they get to X page views, and banners loaded = 0, block em
- Add some dummy code in the header (like half a CJ link or something) and footer so your whole page looks like a an affiliate ad
- JavaScripts or something
and so on

If there are like 8 or 10 ideas that are each 80% or 90%, then if used together they are extremely effective

Make each layer separate, so webmasters can pick and choose the layers of protection they want.

I don't see anybody (unless they have a lot of time) doing all the layers, but if somehow this could be a collabrative effort, this could work?

Finally one last idea - stick short text links in the body of your web site text. If every few words, a word or phrase is missing, it will make users hate these blockers, especially if you tell them why words are missing.
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Old 04-19-2002, 09:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by WildComputer
- Add some dummy code in the header (like half a CJ link or something) and footer so your whole page looks like a an affiliate ad

This made me laugh. Not because it's a dumb idea, but because it's so simple and might actually work.

But, then the ad blocking company will just make it so the text in the links show up, but they don't link to anything.

This is my point. You might can find ways to block them, but they will find ways to counter that block. Back and forth it will continue.

Should webmasters have to do this, just to keep from people stealing there content to display it ad free? Is it right for people to just take part of the page and not all of the page.

Would you like it if another website crawled your site and printed out the same content ad free to users for a 1 time fee? This is exactly what these programs do, only instead of it being a website, it's a program hosted on there own computer. The program is doing exactly that. It is crawling your website. Taking the content from it and then printing it out without the ads. What is the difference?

What would you do if another website crawled your site stealing the content and printing it back out ad free on their site? Would you take action to block the ip address of the server? Probably. But, how many times would it take for them to change there ip address before you would get tired of blocking them all?

What are you going to do when it's all said and done, and the ad blockers are to the point where you can't tell the difference between them and a regular browser? Whats going to happen when the ad blockers figure out your checking to see if the ad was displayed and run the code anyway, just not print it out? How will check for that?

It's just going to get worse. And these things are becoming more popular everyday. Evidence in the number of things ad blockers ship with. Right now, I have a total of 4 programs that will block ads for me. These aren't programs specifically design to this, only an extra bonus for the programs to help them sell. I don't turn them on, but how many people do? I have 1 with my anti-virus software(norton). I have 1 with my firewall(zonealarm). I have 1 with tweak XP. Who knows what other programs these will be installing next.

Most users don't realize they are hurting your site. It's like people who litter. It's just me so, it won't look so bad they think. Then the car behind them throws out there trash on the side of the road. And the next, and then it gets to where the 3rd car says, "They are doing it, why shouldn't I". And then you've got a highway full of trash. And it will stay that way until someone comes along and cleans it up. As soon as you clean it up, another car comes behind you and throws more back out. Only way to stop it, is to keep people from throwing it out in the first place.

I think this is the same principle. You can keep blocking and keep blocking. As soon as you block 1, your going to have another one to block right behind it. If you want the problem to end, then it's got to be taken care of at the source.
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Old 04-19-2002, 10:23 AM   #15
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Clay I agree it shouldn't be necessary, but until somebody fights and wins a court case against ad blockers, what are you going to do?

I also think the arms race argument is flawed. There are a handful of companies developing these blockers with limited resources But there are a zillion different web sites and each implemented by different webmasters, each implemented differently, technically. Together, more or less unlimited resources in other words. If enough webmasters incorporate one or more levels of protection, using a wide variety of technical approaches, the ad blockers can not possibly handle every possible defence.

The defence problem is not a technical one, but simply to get a good chunk of web sites to incorporate some level of protection into their code. A good starting point would be to ask ad networks, banner rotation software, free web hosts, content management systems (anything that is widely used) to offer some defences as part of their products.

Last edited by WildComputer; 04-19-2002 at 10:27 AM.
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