Chrome AdBlock Joining Acceptable Ads Program (And Sold To Anonymous Company) 136

basscomm writes: Hot on the heels of the formation of the independent board to oversee "acceptable ads", users of the popular Chrome ad blocking extension, AdBlock, got notice that AdBlock is participating in the program, and that acceptable ads are being turned on by default. At the bottom of the announcement, buried in the fine print is word that AdBlock has been sold, but nobody will say to whom.

Motorola Marketed the Moto E 2015 On Promise of Updates, Stops After 219 Days 118

An anonymous reader writes: Over the past few years, Motorola has emerged as one of the best manufacturers for low-to-mid-range Android phones. Unlike many other major manufacturers, they keep their version of Android close to stock in order to keep OS updates flowing more easily. When they began marketing the Moto E 2015, updates were one of the features they trumpeted the loudest. But after the company published a list of devices that will continue to get updates, Android Police found the Moto E to be conspicuously absent. The phone launched on February 25, a mere 219 days ago. According to an official Motorola marketing video from launch day, "...we won't forget about you, and we'll make sure your Moto E stays up to date after you buy it."
The Internet

Video We Asked Doc Searls: Do Ad Blockers Cause Cancer? (Video) 109

A whimsical headline, but not much more of a shark-jumper than some of the talk we've heard lately from ad agencies, online publishers, and others who earn their living from online advertising. Doc Searls recently wrote a piece on his personal blog titled Beyond ad blocking — the biggest boycott in human history. Naturally, we wanted to ask Doc to expand a bit on what he's been writing about ad blocking and advertising in general. So we had a fine conversation about online advertising -- ending with a challenge to the advertising industry, which Doc says should be looking for ways to produce better, more effective, and less annoying ways to sell to us online.

Xiaomi Investigated For Using Superlatives In Advertising, Now Illegal In China 108

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is under investigation for using superlative messaging on its website, according to a leaked document from the Beijing Ministry of Industry and Commerce. A new Chinese law states that adjectives used to promote products must not mislead consumers. The Xiaomi investigation [Chinese] follows claims made by rival Cong that the company used phrases such as 'the best' and 'the most advanced', in its online campaigns and therefore violated the country's advertising law. (The law against suprelatives doesn't seem to apply to communications by the government, about the government.)

The Real Cost of Mobile Ads 117

New submitter cvdwl writes: A New York Times (mildly paywalled) article and associated analysis discuss the consumer cost of mobile ads, assuming a US$0.01/MB data plan. The article provides one of the only estimates I've seen of the the real cost in time and money (and time is money) of mobile advertising. Ethics of ad-blockers aside, this highlights the hidden costs of data-heavy (often lazy and poorly developed) web-design. In a nutshell, the worst sites took 10-30s load 10-20MB, costing $0.15-0.40, over 4G due to a blizzard of video, heavy images, and occasionally just massive scripts. The best sites had high content to ad ratios, typically loading 1-3MB of content and >500kB of advertising.

AdBlock Plus To Introduce Independent Board To Oversee Acceptable Ads Program 254

Mark Wilson writes: Ad blocking has been in the news quite a lot recently, not least because of iOS 9's new support for advertising avoidance. Perhaps the most famous tool in the arena is Adblock Plus. It's something that many people have become reliant on for cleaning up their online experience but Eyeo — the company behind AdBlock Plus — has been keen to encourage people to permit the display of some advertising through its Acceptable Ads program. That companies can pay to bypass Adblock Plus is nothing new, although Adblock Plus insists that most ads that are deemed 'acceptable' are added for free. Today Eyeo announces that it is going to hand over control of the Acceptable Ads program to a completely independent board.

Targeting Tools Help Personalize TV Advertising 60

schwit1 writes: Surgical marketing messages are taken for granted on the Internet. Yet, they are just now finding their way onto television, where the audience is big though harder to target. As brands shift more of their spending to the Web where ads are more precise, the TV industry is pushing back. Using data from cable set-top boxes that track TV viewing, credit cards and other sources, media companies including Comcast's NBCUniversal, Time Warner's Turner, and Viacom are trying to compete with Web giants like Google and Facebook and help marketers target their messages to the right audience. Where can I get adblock for my FiOS?

Mozilla Fixed a 14-Year-Old Bug In Firefox, Now Adblock Plus Uses Less Memory 409

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla launched Firefox 41 yesterday. Today, Adblock Plus confirmed the update "massively improves" the memory usage of its Firefox add-on. This particular memory issue was brought up in May 2014 by Mozilla and by Adblock Plus. But one of the bugs that contributed to the problem was actually first reported on Bugzilla in April 2001 (bug 77999).

AdBlock Plus Defends Ad Blocking, Applauds Marco Arment 351

Mark Wilson writes: Ad blockers have been much talked about since Apple opened up support for them in iOS 9. The now infamous Peace shot to the top of the download charts before it was pulled by its creator. Now AdBlock Plus has come out in support of Marco Arment, who developed something of a guilty conscience after his ad blocking creation proved so popular. Ben Williams from AdBlock Plus says "I really applaud this guy," going on to suggest that whitelisting and the Acceptable Ads feature of AdBlock Plus epitomize the "more nuanced, complex approach" Arment called for. The ad blocking software I'd like to see would detect and zap into a heap of ash those unrelated-photo clickbait ads; I'd rather suffer through some honest banner ads anytime.

Hardware Projects (and Pranks) That Have Scared Observers 193

In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed in Irving, Texas, for carrying to school an electronics project believed by a teacher to look like a bomb, Make Magazine has a timely reminder that Ahmed's project is one of many home-brew efforts that sparked (or could have sparked) extreme reactions. Make's list includes a few from tinkerers -- and pranksters -- that not only looked like bombs, but were fully intended to look that way. ("Back in 1967, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was arrested for building a metronome and storing it in a friend’s locker. He rigged a tin-foil contract sensor to the metronome in the locker, and set up the device to tick faster when his buddy opened the locker.") The article doesn't note the 2007 incident in Boston in which a guerilla advertising campaign for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" raised fears of a terrorism and led to two arrests. Gawker has a slightly more pointed article about other students who have specifically brought home-assembled clocks to school, without being arrested.

AVG Proudly Announces It Will Sell Your Browsing History To Online Advertisers 229

An anonymous reader writes: AVG, the Czech antivirus company, has announced a new privacy policy in which it boldly and openly admits it will collect user details and sell them to online advertisers for the purpose of continuing to fund its freemium-based products. This new privacy policy is slated to come into effect starting October 15. The policy says: We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including: Advertising ID associated with your device; Browsing and search history, including meta data; Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products, and Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.

One Day After iOS 9's Launch, Ad Blockers Top Apple's App Store 241 writes: Sarah Perez reports at TechCrunch that only one day after the release of Apple's newly released version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 9, ad blockers are topping the charts in the App Store and it seems that new iOS 9 users are thrilled to have access to this added functionality. The Top Paid iOS app is the new ad-blocker Peace, a $2.99 download from Instapaper founder Marco Arment. Peace currently supports a number of exclusive features that aren't found in other blockers yet. Most notably, it uses Ghostery's more robust blocklist, which Arment licensed from the larger company by offering them a percentage of the app's revenue. "I can't believe how many trackers are on popular sites," says Arment. "I can't believe how fast the web is without them." Other ad blockers are also topping the paid app chart as of today, including the Purify Blocker (#3), Crystal (#6), Blockr (#12). (Ranks as of the time of writing.) With the arrival of these apps, publishers and advertisers are fretting about the immediate impact to their bottom lines and business, which means they'll likely soon try to find ways to sneak around the blockers. In that case, it should be interesting to see which of the apps will be able to maintain their high degree of ad blocking over time.

It's no surprise that advertisers and publishers who make their money from advertising aren't exactly fans of blockers. What is surprising is that no one seemed to disagree with the argument that online ads have gotten out of control. "I think if we don't acknowledge that, we'd be fools," says Scott Cunningham, "So does that mean ad blockers are good or right? Absolutely not. Do we have an accountability and responsibility to address these things? Absolutely — and there's a lot that we're doing now." Harry Kargman agrees that in many cases, online ads have created "a bad consumer experience — from an annoyance perspective, a privacy perspective, a usability perspective." At the same time, Kargman says that as the industry works to solve these problems, it also needs to convince people that when you use an ad blocker, "That's stealing. It's no different than ripping music. It's no different than pirating movies."

DNA-Based Advertising Redefines Commercial "Ad-Targeting" 31

An anonymous reader writes: Hidden among the customary disclaimers about how the website intends to use the information it holds about you, states that it reserves the right to leverage the genotyping tests of users (who have contributed their DNA to AncestryDNA research) in order to serve back 'relevant' advertising via the site. Critics of the clause believe that the site's promise to delete a user's genome on request is devalued both by the possibility of data breaches and by the fact that data brokers and other third parties are both unlikely to honor (or even know about) removal requests, and are likely to improve at leveraging genetic information in the future.

Sony Decides Its Waterproof Xperia Phones Are Not Actually Waterproof 136

Mark Wilson writes: Sony seems determined on confusing its customers by giving very conflicting advice about its Xperia smartphones. If you're familiar with the range, you'll no doubt be aware of the advertising material that appears to show users taking photos in the rain and even (seemingly) underwater at the pool. Take a look at the picture above and you'd probably assume that a) it depicts someone shooting a video or taking a photo in a swimming pool, and b) you can do the same with your phone. But you'd be wrong (at least on b) because Sony has changed its mind about what waterproof means. Or it doesn't know. It really depends on where you look on the Sony website.

Adblock Plus Returns To Android and Arrives On iPhone For First Time 102

Mickeycaskill writes: Adblock Plus has returned to Android — two and a half years after ad blocking services were removed from Google Play — and has been released on iOS for the first time. Adblock Browser for Android has been in beta since late May, with well over 300,000 people downloading the beta in the browser's first week. Meanwhile the arrival of the app on iPhone means developer Eyeo has beaten Apple to the punch, as the company has confirmed iOS 9 will feature an adblocker built into Safari. "With the popularity of the iOS platform in places like the US, we considered it critical to offer an app in the Apple App Store," said Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus. "We're thankful to Apple for working with us on this project and we look forward to their new iOS 9, which will give web developers additional ad-blocking tools. It's a big step for this industry."

YouTube Reportedly Bypassing Ad Blockers On Google Chrome 296

An anonymous reader writes: YouTube users have lit up twitter today, angry about an apparent change of policy by Google, which now seems to be showing ads in front of videos on YouTube even when using Adblock. Neowin reports: "Google's workaround seems to be applicable to all similar extensions and isn't exclusive to just AdBlock Plus. The company has not stopped at just skirting the extension, however. Users with AdBlock enabled will now have to see full-length video ads with no option to skip them half-way through, a feature YouTube has offered for a very long time. The only way to get the option back is to disable AdBlock, or to whitelist YouTube."

Chrome 45 Launches, Automatically Pauses Less Important Flash Content, Like Ads 92

An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 45 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android with some expected changes and new developer tools. First and foremost, Chrome now automatically pauses less important Flash content (rolling out gradually, so be patient). This has been a longtime coming from both Google and Adobe, with the goal to make Flash content more power-efficient in Chrome: In March, a setting was introduced to play less Flash content on the page, but it wasn't turned on by default, and in June, the option was enabled in the browser's beta channel. Now it's being turned on for everyone.

Google Facing Fine of Up To $1.4 Billion In India Over Rigged Search Results 152

An anonymous reader writes: The Competition Commission of India has opened an investigation into Google to decide whether the company unfairly prioritized search results to its own services. Google could face a fine of up to $1.4 billion — 10% of its net income in 2014. A number of other internet companies, including Facebook and FlipKart, responded to queries from the CCI by confirming that Google does this. "The CCI's report accuses Google of displaying its own content and services more prominently in search results than other sources that have higher hit rates. It also states that sponsored links shown in search results are dependent on the amount of advertising funds Google receives from its clients. Ecommerce portal Flipkart noted that it found search results to have a direct correlation with the amount of money it spent on advertising with Google." The company has faced similar antitrust concerns in the EU and the U.S

Inside the Booming, Unhinged, and Dangerous Malvertising Menace 259

mask.of.sanity writes: The Register has a feature on the online malicious advertising (malvertising) menace that has become an explosively potent threat to end-user security on the internet. Experts say advertising networks and exchanges need to vet their customers, and publishers need to vet the third party content they display. Users should also consider script and ad blockers in the interim. From the article: "Ads as an attack vector was identified in 2007 when security responders began receiving reports of malware hitting user machines as victims viewed online advertisements. By year's end William Salusky of the SANS Internet Storms Centre had concocted a name for the attacks. Since then malvertising has exploded. This year it increased by more than 260 percent on the previous year, with some 450,000 malicious ads reported in the first six months alone, according to numbers by RiskIQ. Last year, security firm Cyphort found a 300 percent increase in malvertising. In 2013, the Online Trust Alliance logged a more than 200 percent increase in malvertising incidents compared to 2012, serving some 12.4 billion malvertisement impressions."

AT&T Hotspots Now Injecting Ads 187

An anonymous reader writes: Computer scientist Jonathan Mayer did some investigating after seeing some unexpected ads while he browsed the web at an airport (Stanford hawking jewelry? The FCC selling shoes?). He found that AT&T's public Wi-Fi hotspot was messing with HTTP traffic, injecting advertisements using a service called RaGaPa. As an HTML pages loads over HTTP, the hotspot adds an advertising stylesheet, injects a simple advertisement image (as a backup), and then injects two scripts that control the loading and display of advertising content. Mayer writes, "AT&T has an (understandable) incentive to seek consumer-side income from its free Wi-Fi service, but this model of advertising injection is particularly unsavory. Among other drawbacks: It exposes much of the user's browsing activity to an undisclosed and untrusted business. It clutters the user's web browsing experience. It tarnishes carefully crafted online brands and content, especially because the ads are not clearly marked as part of the hotspot service.3 And it introduces security and breakage risks, since website developers generally don't plan for extra scripts and layout elements."