The web is loaded with weights. Not all of them ads, but all of them weights.
Internet advertising is still evolving, but one constant remains: ads specifically targeted to you make more money for publishers, so it is in their interest to fill their sites with those ads. However, those ads are murder on the speed of a page, turning a lightening-quick load time into an eight-second slog. It’s worth noting that ads aren’t the only thing to blame for this. The scripts that track you and peep on your tent-shopping load along with the page, and slow it down too. But wait. There’s more. Article comments often are hosted by third-party services like Disqus and Facebook, and—yep!—they drag things down too. So do fancy fonts. Turns out the web is loaded with weights.
You’re not powerless here. You have many choices for dealing with this. People have long used ad blockers and content blockers on desktops and laptops. That ability arrived on iPhones and iPads this will with the arrival of iOS 9. For the first time, developers can write extensions for Safari that stop ads, scripts, and other page elements from loading. It’s obviously something people really want; content-blocking apps skyrocketed to the top of the App Store almost immediately.
Before you start downloading, there is one very important thing to understand: By blocking ads, you are depriving content publishers (like us, hello!) of advertising income and insights into what readers want. To better understand the flow of money and information between readers and publishers, check out WIRED’s cover story on the economics of online publishing. Using Buzzfeed as an example, the story breaks down the profit margins of display ads, explains native ads, and explains the many tools, from headline optimizers and social prediction technologies, publishers use to attract your attention. All of these systems rely upon user tracking, the same tech content-blockers fence off. Learning what you like to read helps content providers serve better ads and provide content you’ll actually like. But at the bottom line, ads keep the lights on. Content providers like WIRED are businesses, after all, and if you aren’t going to pay for the content directly through, say, a subscription, we’ve gotta pay the bills somehow. It’s telling that one prominent app developer has pulled his top-ranked content blocker, Peace, from the App Store because his independent-publisher friends raised concerns about the impact Peace might have on ad revenue.
There are other concerns, too, like the fact that content-blockers block more than ads. Fonts, comments, images, various elements—all might be axed. Removing these things messes with websites’ carefully designed layouts, and things may break. So please be judicious!