Is it possible to browse Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) without pesky ads popping all over your newsfeed? AdBlock Plus developers think so. Waging a war on Facebook’s ads, AdBlock Plus found a way to eliminate ads from the social media network despite Facebook’s supposed ad blocker-proof format. Users with an updated version of the AdBlock Plus can continue avoiding Facebook ads in the sidebar and newsfeed.
But Facebook is not throwing in the towel just yet. The company’s “ad blocker-proof format” may not be perfect, but it will continuously work to develop a better system to avoid being blocked by users.
“We’re disappointed that ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook as these new attempts don’t just block ads but also posts from friends and Pages,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “This isn’t a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue.”
The release of the latest AdBlock Plus update is bad news for Facebook, which rolled out supposedly “un-blockable” ads just two days before, leading insiders to believe that the social media network is actively evading ad blockers. However, it is unlikely that Facebook will devote its resources trying to circumvent the AdBlock Plus update every 48 hours.
Adblock Plus developers made it clear that they are gearing up for battle. In a blog post, Adblock Plus’ Ben Williams writes, “This sort of back-and-forth battle between the open-source ad-blocking community and circumventers has been going on since ad blocking was invented; so it’s very possible that Facebook will write some code that will render the filter useless — at any time. If that happens, the ad-blocking community will likely find another workaround, then Facebook might circumvent again, etc.”
To counter the ad blockers, Facebook has to make every ad appear like a regular post. This works by eliminating the code that explicitly identifies an ad one by one. These days, the ads are now passed off as “sponsored post” on the newsfeed. The strategy seemed effective at first, but eventually, the ad blocker was able to beat the system once again.
In an interview by The Verge, Williams said that tricking the system “was just a matter of finding the non-standard indicators they began using.” He added, “I would stress, though, that this is a cat-and-mouse game; so their next circumvention might come at any time.”
Meanwhile, a Facebook rep said that the company will continue to evade ad blockers believing that the ads were not annoying users, though there’s no denying the fact that the social networking giant depends heavily on ads for revenue. A late April report by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook’s revenue spiked 57% during the first quarter of this year to a staggering $5.2 billion from $3.3 billion thanks to mobile ads. Q2 was even more profitable, with the company’s revenues coming in 63 percent higher from last year to $6.24 billion.
“Businesses are no longer asking if they should market on mobile, they’re asking how,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said. “This is a shift that we think we’re very well-positioned to take advantage of and build on.”
More and more people are turning to ad blockers to maintain their privacy online since the ads are programmed to track their interest via online searches.
“Ad blockers are a blunt instrument,” Facebook’s spokesperson said, “which is why we’ve instead focused on building tools like ad preferences to put control in people’s hands.”