Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Empire Strikes Back

Ad blockers may appear the victors, but publishers are fighting back, "taking silent anti-ad-blocking measures," according to TechCrunch.

A new study by two universities finds nearly a third of the top 10,000 websites are using quiet techniques to fake out ad blockers.

The researchers repeatedly visited thousands of sites, with and without ad blockers added to their browsers.

By comparing the source code of pages visited with and without blockers, they could tell when page content changed based on the presence of a blocker.

The researchers found over 30% of the top 10,000 websites are retaliating against ad blockers; and 38% of the top 1,000 are.

Retaliation takes the form of source code that produces ad-like “bait” (for example, by including photos named "banner"). 

The bait triggers ad blockers, alerting the website to their presence; the site then deploys ads in ways blockers can't detect.

The researchers warn that a "rapidly escalating technological arms race" is on between publishers and ad blockers.
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