We were struck this week by The New York Times’ fascinating interactive chart, which ranks 50 top news websites based on their mobile load times for editorial and advertising. It was put together as a way to help us understand the recent uproar surrounding ad blockers. (Three cheers for The Guardian, which comes off looking like public television here.) We loved the way this graphic got its message across, but we also found ourselves thinking that there’s a whole other level to this issue.
Put simply, ad blockers aren’t just preventing those annoying ads from loading on your phone. They’re also stopping the scripts that put the loading process on hold in order to dig into your data and figure out which ads to show you. In other words, the whole debate about ad blockers isn’t just about ads; it’s about your data.
For more on how web advertising works, here are some in-depth links:
- Behind the Banner is an incredible visualization that takes you under the hood of the ad placement process, from the amazing team at the Office for Creative Research.
- This presentation (Breaking News at 1000ms) by Patrick Hamann dates back to 2014 when he was working at The Guardian to make their next-generation website faster. It explains how and why they are speediest site on the Times‘ list. (tl;dr: Prioritize the content the reader came to see.)
- If you want to do your own speed test and see how your website performs, check http://www.webpagetest.org/.
- WIRED plays both sides of the fence on this issue, both making the case for data collection (it allows publishers to make more) and also linking to the best ad-blockers on the market in the appropriately titled article, “Please Don’t Block Our Ads. Here’s How to Block Ads in iOS9.“
J+D team posts are a conversation between Heather Chaplin and Irwin Chen, blogified by Lindsay Abrams.