Ad blocking

It’s a few years old now but I just came across this series of posts by Ad Block Plus  in which they surveyed users of their Adblocker about the service. One of the questions asked why people used Adblocker. The results are quite interesting.

They gave respondents 7 possible reasons and forced a choice through a four point scale (ie there was no ‘neutral’ option). Forcing choice in this way can distort results as it, obviously, forces people to express an opinion on a matter they might not care about.

I think we can group 3 items as ‘content issues’ (distracting animations and sounds, offensive or inappropriate content and missing separation of ad an content); 3 items as ‘provider issues’ (security concerns; privacy concerns and page load times); and one as a personal issue (ideological reasons). If this was done more robustly we might separate each of these items out into multiple dimensions and see how they inter-relate. But it wasn’t.

Just eye-balling it, it seems that most of the motivations for Ad Blocking relate to a lack of trust – provider issues.  This is followed by content issues. Although ideological reasons motivated about half the sample (and given the selection bias you’d expect this is an over estimation), that leaves about one-third of the sample who block ads not because they are “anti branding” but just because they don’t trust advertisers to act responsibly and because their ads are kind of annoying.

If I were a brand I’d find this very hopefully as these are much easier to fix than overcoming ideological opposition to ads. In fact, the same problem has already been solved on other media through regulation initatives (see my other blog on advertising governance).


Originally published at

Google’s YouTube Battles with Big Brands

Here’s a short article I wrote for The Conversation on Google’s current battles with brands… More on this to come I think.

Originally published at

Licence to Kill? Managing with Violence

Former Head of School, Professor Gibson Burrell, uncovers a series of uncomfortable parallels between managerialism and the militaRy

At first sight, it appears as if the discipline of ‘business and management’ has no room for a debate on ‘the organization of destruction’ and the use of well-considered techniques of administration in acts of unspeakable violence against fellow human beings (perhaps the CIA being only the most recent perpetrator). One might be content that these two areas are supposedly disconnected: surely management is about production, construction, good order and building for the future. Does not the destruction of human lives, goods, buildings and socio-cultural artefacts belong somewhere else – politics and military studies, for example? This separation does not bear close examination.

Even cursory investigation shows that, first, physical and psychological violence is enshrined in several management practices against staff, customers and competitors. Deaths of employees within work and those arising from the production and marketing of dangerous goods to customers plus attacks on competitors’ businesses through industrial espionage, arson and sabotage are all relevant here. Second, as Max Weber argued, rationality is often best expressed in developing the means of violence by and on behalf of the state. Third, as the early debates about Taylorism showed, the military arsenals of the world are the exemplary places for the development of new management practices of mass production, quality control and personnel practices. Fourth, as Zygmunt Bauman sought to demonstrate, the organization of death (of animals and some humans) lies at the heart of developments in mass production, mass consumption and the de-problematization of ethics. Fifth, several branches of Management are implicated from their birth in the prosecution of war, with ‘strategy’ and ‘operational research’ being primary examples. We might note that above the mighty doors of the Venetian Arsenale were written the words “Happy is the city that in times of peace thinks of war”. In its place we might suggest that “happy is the area of business and management studies that thinks of war”. Why? Because of the copious state and corporate funding that comes with a ‘war’ designated against anything.

In order to bring military studies, war studies and organization studies closer together, Professors Brian Bloomfield, Theo Vurdubakis and I are researching how contemporary business and management studies has warfare, and the licence to kill that it engenders, as a major ‘present absence’ in the field. We believe this interconnection, indeed interdependence, is worthy of recognition and debate.

Originally published at