Is AdTrap the answer to our prayers when it comes to blocking online advertising?

ad blocking deviceYou may have heard of AdTrap … or maybe you haven’t.

AdTrap is a newly developed device that intercepts online ads before they reach any devices that access a person’s Internet connection.

That basic action means that people are able to surf the web – including viewing videos – without the onslaught of online advertisements that seem to become more and more pervasive with every passing month.

The fundamental promise that the developers of AdTrap are making is a return to the “good ol’ days” of web surfing.

You know, back when most web pages you downloaded contained text and pictures – and virtually no advertising.

AdTrap’s motto is a simple and powerful one:  The Internet is yours again.”

Not surprisingly, there’s a good deal of excitement surrounding this new product.  In fact, interest has been so great that the invention attracted more than $200,000 in funding — raised in a 30-day Kickstarter campaign in early 2013.

Those funds are now being used to manufacture the first AdTrap units for shipment to “early adopter” consumers across the country.

How New an Idea Is This?

advertisingIn actuality, there have been a plethora of (often-free) software and browser plug-ins offered to consumers that can block online advertisements. 

But most of them have significant limitations because they’ve been designed to work only with specific browsers or on specific devices.

Free is good, of course.  But the developers of AdTrap are banking on the willingness of consumers to shell out $139 for their product – a rectangular box that looks a lot like a wireless router and that intercepts advertisements before they reach a laptop, tablet or mobile device.

The beauty of AdTrap is that it will work on every device connected to a person’s network.  Situated between the modem and router, it takes just a few minutes to set up.  

CNN technology correspondent Dan Simon reports that AdTrap does an effective job blocking advertising content.  But not perfectly; ads still appear on Hulu content, for example. 

But the developers of AdTrap report that they’re working on ways to block even more content going forward, including ads on Hulu.

Is this Bigger than Merely Blocking Ads?

Beyond the collective sigh of relief you’re likely hearing from those reading this blog post … what are the larger implications if AdTrap and similar devices are adopted by consumers on a large scale?

One not-so-positive implication may be that websites will no longer offer be able to offer content without charge, since so many publishers’ business models rely on advertising content to help pay most of the bills.

If advertising isn’t appearing thanks to AdTrap, people aren’t getting paid.

So let’s think about this for a minute:  It’s true that the Internet was blissfully free of wall-to-wall advertising 15 years ago compared to today. 

But cyberspace was also far less robust in terms of the quantity and quality of the informational and entertainment content available to us.

So yes … having a device to block 80% or more of the ads served to us is a very attractive proposition.  But if it means that some of our favorite sites move to pay-walls as a result, it might be that making a $139 investment in an AdTrap device isn’t such a “no-brainer” choice in the final analysis.

What do you think of this development — pro or con?  Please share your thoughts with other readers here.

3 thoughts on “Is AdTrap the answer to our prayers when it comes to blocking online advertising?

  1. I have a question: Will Web publishers be able to measure the number of their ads that are blocked by devices like AdTrap?

    At present, software apps are able to track ads served and deliver fairly accurate metrics to publishers and their advertisers. Will AdTrap render all those metrics meaningless, or… ?

    My first reaction is that this could potentially introduce total chaos into online advertising models. Of course, at the current price point, most people wouldn’t buy a contraption like AdTrap. But if and when the cost comes down, a fair number of people just might. And if they do, it seems to me that not having an accurate cost-per-impression would be just as disruptive as not having access to as many eyeballs.

    Also, just think of what this could do to Google Adwords and the millions of small companies that depend on it. Hmmm. Come to think of it, Google would surely buy a startup like this (and its patents) next week — at whatever price — and then bury it in some closet.

  2. There are two thoughts I have on this (for now):

    Isn’t it a little like the law? If you introduce a new law that makes, let’s say, fraud more difficult, most of what you accomplish is that the crooks get smarter. You raise the hurdle … and the crooks train a bit harder to jump it. Or corruption in and out of politics — but I’m not getting into that one, sorry.

    In other words, if there is technology to recognize and trap ads, then there will be technology to disguise ads and make them slip through.

    Next, the many ‘free’ services and portals will morph to base packages and their premium versions, this way asking a subscriber for specific permissions — or else.

    And finally, how do we know this little box only traps ads? (Why do we need firmware in the first place?) Will not our privacy be down the proverbial toilet?

    We have no control over what this box really does. Most people already neglect to retain control of what their software “manages” on its own — updates and feedback and whatever else.

    I think, this $139 “breakfast” doesn’t buy us future “free lunches,” either. Today the pain level is so high that people will pay that money. What’s next?

    You know the thing with the middle finger. Has the computing business ever been anything but?

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