Please Turn Off Your Ad Blocker is over.

The more malvertising that comes out, the more that please turn off your ad blocker messages on web sites are starting to look irresponsible or just plain scary. Asking users to turn off the ad blocker sounds like the web version of If you can't open, turn off your antivirus. Let's have a look at a few recent malvertising examples.

These aren't skeevy ads on low-reputation pirate sites. Malvertising attacks are coming in on big-budget sites such as AOL's Huffington Post, and included in fake ads for real brands such as Hugo Boss. They're using A-list adtech companies. The ongoing web ad fraud problem is hitting users now, not just advertisers. And so far the response from the ad networks has been a few whacks at the problem accounts.

Users already trust web ads less than any other ad medium. Malvertising takes a form of advertising that's a bad deal for the user and makes it worse. (If sewer rats are coming out of the commode, users are going to put a brick on the lid. If the rats have rabies, make that two bricks.)

Ad blockers are a problem for ad-supported sites, but having users run entirely unprotected is worse. When an ad medium is optimized for direct response rates, it loses value for brand advertising. Fortunately, new tracking protection features and tools are a third alternative, one that works for users, sites, and brands. For users, tracking protection stops the creepy ads that follow you from site to site. For sites, tracking protection is a barrier to data leakage. For brand advertisers, tracking protection enables signaling, not just automated cold calls.

Instead of unrealistic turn off your ad blocker messages, or getting into a blocker vs. anti-blocker fight that will just help the ad blockers improve their update systems, or feeding the "acceptable ads" racket, sites can help promote tracking protection.

For example, add a tracking test to a site, replace confusing AdChoices links with a safer alternative, or encourage users to get protected by offering some content behind a reverse tracking wall.

Web advertising, so far, is much less valuable than print advertising. Brands need to replace print as the print audience goes away. With tracking protection, sites have an opportunity to move out of commoditized direct response advertising into valuable brand advertising.

Don Marti · #