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Blocking TV ads: The new Whack-a-Mole?

The AdTrap, as seen in its Kickstarter video.

Tired of that big banner ad taking up the bottom of your tiny smartphone screen? Or what about the commercial you have to sit through on videos?

Well you are not alone, and startups are emerging to help you block those ads, said Chad Russell, the chief technology Officer at BluePoint Security. BluePoint went onto Kickstarter and proposed a device to block ads. Two thousand people chipped in about $135 each, and Ad Trap was born. It’s a small, white box that plugs into your router.

“It eliminates all of the inbound advertising from any device in your house,” said Russell. So when you hop onto the web from your desktop, smartphone or tablet, the sites you visit are stripped of ads. And the videos are commercial-free.

Of course, websites and advertisers are fighting back. “It really is an arms race between us and the advertisers constantly,” Russell said. Right now, the ad blockers have the upper hand.

To change that, it’s going to be costly for the web publications, and it’s unclear that a victor will emerge, said Sean Blanchfield is with PageFair, a start-up in Ireland that helps web publishers sidestep ad blockers. “The most correct response to this is to address the underlying problem which is the quality of the ads themselves,” he said.

Ad Trap isn’t the only ad blocker out there. The most popular one is called “Ad Blocker,” and it's free. But right now, advertisers aren’t too worried, said Clark Fredricksen with eMarketer. “I would say ad blocking is on advertiser's radar, but it’s not the top of their lists,” said Fredricksen.

He adds that’s because there hasn’t been a wide scale adoption of the technology.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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