I’ve wondered for a while if I should discuss advertisements, and in particular, how you can avoid them. I’ve been torn about whether I should write about them. On the one hand, I try to discuss all aspects of personal finance in the world today, and advertising is a major part of how our world works. Being able to resist advertisements, or perhaps even better, avoid them entirely, would be quite helpful to increasing your net worth. So it’s definitely a topic worth discussing.
On the other hand…My blog uses advertising as its main source of revenue, and in turn, I depend on said advertising to provide me with income from this blog. Many forms of media get their money the same way, including every blog I know of, and if you end up avoiding our advertisements, we’ll lose a great deal of money as a result. (If too many people do too good a job at avoiding advertisements, then advertisement-supported media as a whole could be in trouble, but that’s a discussion beyond the scope of this article.) Given that some of the most effective methods are those you can use for your Internet usage, and it’s a particularly sticky situation for those of us using advertisements to earn money online.
As you might guess, my desire to help you cut down on your advertisement intake eventually won out, hence this article. While I encourage you to take advantage of the methods listed below to limit your advertising consumption, consider still consuming those advertisements on media you’d like to support, like say, informative and entertaining personal finance blogs. With all of that said, let’s get to
Ways to Avoid Advertising
On The Internet
Ah, the Internet. With everything from pop-ups to sidebar ads, there are nearly endless ways that companies can try to reach you while you are online. Luckily, there are also plenty of applications you use to keep your commercial exposure to a limit. Here are some resources you can try:
- Adblock: Easily the best way to block ads on your broswer, it’s both easy to install and quite adaptable. Variations are available for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera and even a (paid) version for Internet Explorer, covering most of your browser usage needs. From my own experience, it’s an incredibly effective tool for avoiding ads.
- Ghostery: Another app you can add to your browser, Ghostery allows you to see (and block) not only the advertising found on webpages, but also the other widgets that are used by websites. If you’d like an idea of the type of programs used by the sites you visit, as well as the option to control them, Ghostery is a good way to go.
- Other Techniques: These two apps should cover most of your needs, but if you’d like a few other options, I’d suggest you start your search with this dotTech article, providing advice on ad blocking for every browser.
On Your Phone
With smart phones becoming nearly as powerful and versatile as computers nowadays, you might be seeing almost as many ads on your phone as on your computer. As a result, it’s good to check out methods of eliminating the ads you encounter while using your smart phone apps, such as using:
- Adblock Plus: If you happen to be using an Android-based phone, Adblock Plus is a good option for you. I’ve been using it myself for the past month or so, and it blocks the ads out there pretty effectively. (The occasional ad still slips through, but most don’t appear.)
- Adblock for iOS: Should you be more of an Apple person, you can check out Adblock for iOS. Not having an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Touch myself (the horror, I know), I can’t personally vouch for the effectiveness, but it’s worth a look for any iUsers.
- Airplane Mode: Here’s an interesting trick, shared by Lifehacker: turn on Airplane Mode, and any apps that have banner ads will have said banner ads disappear. Definitely worth considering, at least for any apps that don’t require an active internet connection to function.
The easiest method to avoid TV ads is to not watch TV. You’ll dodge ads and have more time for productive activities, to boot. Granted, that’s not an option that everyone is willing to do; for those of us who still want to watch at least some TV shows (myself included), there are other options:
- Fast-Forward Through the Commercials: Now that many, perhaps most of us, record shows on digital recording devices before watching, you can fast forward through the commercial breaks to save time and ad exposure at the same time. Granted, advertisers are working around that, making commercials that are watchable even as you go through them at twelve times the normal speed, but it’s a start.
- Watch the Shows on DVD: If you want to avoid the commercials entirely on your shows, you can buy the DVDs and watch them that way. Granted, this has the downside of costing you a sizable amount of money for every show you wish to watch, so if you’re trying to save money along with time, you might want to try:
- Checking Out Online Sources of Shows: As I’ve noted before, you can increasingly find online sources for your favorite TV shows, most of which are free and have limited commercial interuption. (And the ones that do have commercials can generally have those commercials blocked using many of the same techniques that work for websites in general.)
At The Movies
If you’re watching movies at home, you can apply the same techniques for other television viewing to keep your advertising to a minimum. Occasionally, though, you might want to go out to the movies with a friend or lover (or maybe a friend you’d like to turn into a lover). There aren’t too many options in this case, as advertisements are increasingly starting when the movie is scheduled to begin. (That is, TV-style commercials, not the slide show that plays between showings.) There’s not too much you can do in this, case, although you can try:
- Complain: Take the advice of the CMPAA (that is, Captive Motion Picture Audience of America; quite a mouthful) and complain to the movie theaters and the advertisers who choose to use this method to hawk their products. If enough people join the complaining, it might just change things.
- Seek Another Theater: If you have the option, you could could go to another movie theater, one that has no commercials before the movie. If enough people go with this option (and particularly point out their reasoning to the theater workers), it could prove even more effective than complaining alone.
- Show Up Late: If all else fails, you can try to wait until the movie (or at least the trailers, the one type of advertisement most people enjoy) starts to go into the theater. Making a point of being somewhere the other audience members and the theater workers can see you waiting for the commercials to end might also help impress your point on the other people around the theater.
In The Real World
Sadly, even with all these methods, you’re still likely to encounter more than a few commercials in your life. Everywhere from billboards to magazines to buses have advertisements on them nowadays, and there’s little you can do to avoid all of them, assuming you want to leave your house at any point. Instead, for many of the advertisements you encounter, you’ll be forced to (a) Keep note that they are advertisements, and thus, are meant to distort your buying habits rather than provide unbiased information, (b) Try to think deeply about any purchases that the advertisement encourages you to make, and remember that there are factors other than a purely logical and rational decision making at work, and (c) Do what you can to build up your resistance to advertisements in general.