AdNauseum is a free, Google Chrome extension that the company banned from the Chrome Web Store in 2017.
The extension hides ads, like any number of ad blockers, but twists the knife by automatically clicking on any ads it finds. The intent is to render user targeting via ad surveillance pointless by flooding the ad surveillance software with false positives.
Two of the creators of the AdNauseum extension have written up an academic analysis of their project here.
The Guardian interviewed AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, and while his view on ad blockers is a lot more forward thinking than others in similar positions, he seems to have drunk the kool aid when it comes to advertising itself (emphasis added),
“Adblocking is the clearest signal for consumers that the advertising innovation cycle, that I think the entire industry got lazy on, needs to improve dramatically,” he says. “At our company, the adblocking rates have spurred a level of thinking that should have been around a couple of years ago.
“We have accepted the fact emotionally that adblocking is a signal from consumers that as great as we think all internet advertising is, it can be a lot greater. The consumer blocking of advertising is a very significant opportunity, and it is a significant risk if you choose to ignore it.”
Does anyone–other than the companies dependent upon it–think that the problem with online advertising is that it is merely great, and could be so much greater?
In the best case scenarios, advertising in all of its forms is at best a necessary evil that is tolerated and rarely celebrated. I am willing to tolerate ads during live TV broadcasts of NFL games, for example, though most of the time I switch to other activities when the ads play.
But there is never going to be a time when I am on my mobile phone or laptop thinking, “man, that was a great ad. I’m glad that site interrupted my workflow to show me such a great ad.”