Facebook recently announced that it will bypass ad blockers and use work-arounds to display ads on the desktop. I wonder if they realize how naïve this makes their brand look.
Adblock Plus came back a couple of days later to announce that it whacked that mole and bypassed Facebook's work-around.
Facebook is now rolling out another work-around attempt.
This is a battle that Facebook can't win though. No matter how many engineers they have working on it (I doubt it's more than a handful), the ad blocking community is determined, just as smart and much larger.
The real reason Facebook will lose is more basic though. Users control the client or browser which means that Facebook is fighting a battle with just a spoon and one hand tied behind its back – the hand with the spoon. Because Facebook can not control the platform that displays its ads, they will always lose this ad blocking war to the ad blocking community who will always be able to whack-the-FB-mole.
Facebook though says that the ad blocker solution is sometimes blocking real posts that are not ads. I find that response pretty lame since Facebook's algorithms already block real friend posts by choosing which ones it thinks are more relevant – they don't display every post its users want to see.
Yesterday, I read this tweet from Josh Constine of TechCrunch:
Adblockers are like running out of a restaurant without paying. Sorry that signing the check interrupted the experience but you ate, you pay
Sorry Josh, but every restaurant I visit allows me to pick what I want to order and pay for. We already start paying places like Facebook with our data the moment we walk through the front door. We simply don't want to pay for the dish that comes with E.coli.
I like well known developer Marco Arment's tweet response to Josh here.
Sorry Facebook, no matter how hard you try, you can't and won't win the ad blocking fight. We know that you won't block ad blockers outright from visiting your site because that will create too much negative publicity – even the most myopic management team won't allow that. MAUs are too important, right?
Here's a Reddit discussion on the topic if you're interested.
Your move, Facebook. We won't get tired of whacking the mole.