It's no surprise to me that the number one paid app on the App Store right now is a Safari ad blocker. A year ago, I would have found it perplexing, but not anymore. For a long time I grappled with the idea of ad blockers, part of my conscience felt that publishers need to make money, while another part of me would be annoyed when a rogue ad would crash my browser tab; but those were simpler times. Times when the worst thing the end user needed to worry about was an occasional popup getting through the browser's built in filter.
Many years ago, when the modern internet was beginning to form, website advertisements were an all out shit storm. Popups everywhere, giant flashing words and even redirects on the seedier end of the web. It got so ridiculous that browsers started to implement popup blockers. Publishers and website owners started to wise up to the problem and began to rein in the advertisers and place guidelines on the kinds of advertisements they would display. A sort of renaissance occurred. The internet for a few years had a good balance of ads and content, publishers understood what their readers wanted.
Then the smartphone came along. Mobile ads, being a brand new market, came in new forms people had never really had to deal with. The perpetual banner under a game or even the pop over, deceptively placed to interrupt you and trick you into clicking on it. (As could be seen on the App Store's most popular free app "Pop the Lock" until the developers cut that shit out.) The mobile web has turned back into a 2001 era cesspool of banners and popovers and auto playing videos. Combining this with modern click bait articles that split up content along multiple pages, we are seeing more and more ads than ever before. These ads are more obnoxious than they have ever been.
Growing up in the golden age of internet advertising, the market that Google made it's fortune in, makes me long for a time when I didn't want an ad blocker. I understand the need for publishers to make money, but I can never support the crap they are attempting to pull now. We live in a time where Apple, a company who hates plugins, is now allowing third party apps to interface with Safari to block advertisements—and everything is fucking awful. (Except for the ad blocker...it works wonderfully.)