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Ad blocker has a crisis of conscience and exits app store

An app developer has had a crisis of crisis of conscience that has pushed him to pull his ad blocker from Apple’s app store after it became the most downloaded.

The Peace mobile app shot to the top of Apple’s chart for paid apps in less than 48 hours though the success was bittersweet for its creator Marc Arment, Tumblr’s former chief technology officer.

“Achieving this success just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have” he wrote in a blog post. Ad blockers prevent ads from showing up on web pages, effectively blocking publishers from making money from their content.

“Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit,” Arment added. “Peace required that all ads be treated for the same – all or nothing enforcement decisions that aren’t black and white. This approach is too blunt, and Ghostery and I have decided that it doesn’t serve our goals or beliefs well enough. If we’re going to effect postive change overall, a more nuanced, complex approach is required than what I can bring in a simple iOS app.”

Peace used online priviacy service Ghostery’s database to block apps on mobile devices. While the ad blocker did let users greenlight those publisher sites they did want to view ads on, it did not extend the feature to advertising publishers

“Ad-blocking is a kind of war — a first-world, low-stakes, both-sides-are-fortunate-to-have-this-kind-of-problem war, but a war nonetheless, with damage hitting both sides, wrote Arment. “I see war in the Tao Te Ching sense: it should be avoided when possible; when that isn’t possible, war should be entered solemnly, not celebrated.

It spotlights the debate around the pros and cons of ad blocking that has seen publishers voice their fears that it could slash their revenues. The arrival of the service on Apple devices this week could be the saga’s biggest twist yet, with media experts interviewed by The Drum concerned as to the impact it could have on the mobile ad market’s growth.

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