There are many parts of the Internet that can sometimes prove to be annoying: menacing phishers, endless memes and that bottomless pit of alphanumerical passwords that you're quickly losing track of. But there's one aspect of cyberspace that may just be the most frustrating and ubiquitous of all: Internet ads.
Like it or not, these online adverts are an extremely important source of revenue for many web-based companies, but that usually doesn't make their invasiveness and omnipresence any more palatable to the average consumer.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that when AdTrap -- a little box that promises to rid your life of those pesky ads for good -- showed up on Kickstarter, hundreds of people quickly leapt on board.
Boing Boing explains:
AdTrap is a planned $150 firewall box for consumers. Plugged in between your internet connection and router, it strips the web of advertising without requiring a moment's configuration. Unlike browser-based plugins, it covers the whole pipe rather than a single app: every device in the house managed from a single setup screen.
Since its Kickstarter launch in November, AdTrap has attracted more than 2,000 "Likes" on Facebook, and more than $210,000 has been pledged to the project. With the original goal of $150,000 having been met earlier this month, AdTrap will likely be launched in 2013, according to the website.
However, while some Internet users may rejoice at the news of an ad-free Web experience, the blog Shell of Man notes that this new device may pose a mighty challenge to "several Silicon Valley big-shots" and other web-based companies:
Once affordable and accessible, say in one year’s time, [AdTrap] could become as ubiquitous as routers themselves, leaving several Silicon Valley big-shots knee deep in shit. YouTube and Facebook, for example, depend on advertisements to generate the bulk of their revenue.
These companies will lose billions of dollars and could even shut down if they don’t quickly adapt. Which they won’t… Things are about to get very feisty.
Already, the Economist writes, about "9 percent of all online page views come from browsers armed with ad-blocking software, such as Adblock Plus" -- an ad-eradicating tool that has reportedly been downloaded nearly 180 million times since 2007. But it seems that AdTrap, with its ability to block ads on all your Internet-enabled devices in one fell swoop, may just up the ante.
In a 2010 post about ad-blocking software, Ken Fisher of Ars Technica argued that "blocking ads truly hurts the websites you visit."
"I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical, or makes someone the son of the devil," Fisher wrote. "It can result in people losing their jobs, it can result in less content on any given site, and it definitely can affect the quality of content. It can also put sites into a real advertising death spin. As ad revenues go down, many sites are lured into running advertising of a truly questionable nature."
As Today's iPhone notes, AdTrap -- like other ad-cleansing tools -- will allow users to "whitelist" those websites that they still want to allow ads for. That way, you'll still be able to support your favorite sites by allowing some ads to trickle through.
But the question is: Given the choice, would you block all ads or would you let some in?
"Good or bad, this product has massive implications for the near future of the internet," writes Shell of Man. "Will ad-based businesses be able to sustain themselves? What will happen to news sites and small-time bloggers who also depend on advertisements for income? Will AdTrap bring balance back to the so called “dot-com bubble” (v2.0)?"
"Any company relying solely on traditional web ads may want to start adjusting their strategies right now," warned a blog post on Wooshii earlier this month. "Even if the AdTrap doesn’t work, other companies will soon be following the trend with their own ad blocking devices."
Yay or nay? Tell us what you think of AdTrap and other ad blocking tools in the comments below.