With Facebook losing the war on ad blocker we may have a winner amongst us. This will happen if a new method developed by Princeton and Stanford researchers is implemented into a widely available blocker. Arvind Narayan, a computer scientist, with his colleagues have unveiled a tool that identifies ads the same way humans do. It does so by looking at things like container sizes, icon graphics and words like “Sponsored.”
This tool is named Perceptual Ad Blocker. You can test it out, as it is already available as an extension for Chrome. However, to avoid getting into the ethics related with ad-blocking, the system only covers the ads that are detected with words like “This is an ad,” and does not remove them altogether.
The ad blockers that are in use these days search the page’s source code for signs that indicate that it is an ad. But they can be easily avoided by using anti-ad blocking mechanisms. Narayanan’s team designed Perceptual to ignore hidden HTML markup (or tags) and look instead at the actual content (i.e., words and pictures on the page).
Narayan and a Princeton undergraduate Grant Storey have released a version of the Perpetual Ad Blocker particular for Facebook after the later had accounted that it will display ads in the form of posts to avoid ad blockers. Thousands of users already use the extension.
“We don’t claim to have created an undefeatable ad blocker, but we identify an evolving combination of technical and legal factors that will determine the “end game” of the arms race,” Narayanan wrote in a blog post. His team had tested 50 known anti-ad-blocking sites, out of them the perceptual ad blocker was able to detect ads on all of them without being detected.