Monday, October 24, 2011

An Ethical Ad Blocker?

I just read George Monbiot's new essay about advertising and it got me thinking about how we might reduce ad exposure on the web. Like many people, I sometimes use an ad blocker. However, because I'm aware that the free content and services I depend on are paid for by advertising, I generally only use the blocker for sites with really annoying ads. Still, it would be better for the environment if we weren't exposed to so many messages telling us to buy stuff.

I propose that somebody develop a subscription-based ad blocker that would automatically make micropayments to the sites you visit. Content providers would register and the ad blocker plug-in would keep track of where you go on the web. (Ideally, for privacy reasons, this data would only be stored on your computer.) For practical reasons, you would probably pay a fixed amount of money each month. At the end of the month, the money would be divided among content providers according to how much you used them. If you disabled the blocker on certain sites, they wouldn't get any money.

So, what do people think? Is this workable? How would you modify the idea?

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