Broadband News

Free in France freezes out adverts via firmware update

The online advertising model is still very young but that has not stopped the boundaries being pushed, as was the example with Phorm. The second largest broadband provider in France looks set to re-write the advertising model completely and in one small update reduce the visibility of adverts to a large number of users.

Free has apparently issued a firmware update to its customers ADSL routers which are now blocking adverts by default, with users having the option of turning back on adverts via the routers built-in web configuration pages. The result of the blocking is that when DNS requests for services like Google Adwords are made, the router intercepts the request for the advert and returns a blank section.

Ad blockers are nothing new and many people use them to curb the excesses of sites that use adverts that pop-up or under the main content page. A broadband provider effectively blocking them for all customers though is a very different prospect and with many blogs and other free services relying on advertising income the removal or at best a major reduction in revenue could cause many smaller sites and services to cease operation, The advertising world which is populated by creatives is not likely to sit dormant, and one could expect that things like sponsorship deals, or paid content articles to become more prevalent if banner adverts vanish.

What is unknown is why Free has made this move, possibly the intention was to allow customers to have the option of blocking content and the upgrade enabled the feature by mistake, or maybe at some future date a Phorm type operation will start with the providers own advertising being inserted. For now the New Year is not looking good for many websites in France, whether donation buttons where adverts used to be would form a credible source of revenue is something we expect some to explore. Another option if this blocking is permanent would be for sites to explore a subscription model, but this will only work for sites with large user bases or very niche sites that have a small but very loyal following.

One interesting aspect of this is that the French telecom regulator is already looking into why YouTube is performing so badly on the Free services, and therefore it seems the ad-blocking (for which Google Adwords will be the largest advert provider) may be linked to the net neutrality debate in France, where some providers feel they should be paid for carrying traffic.

Comments

Muppets. They clearly don't realise that half the content on the net worth viewing is only free at the point of use because advertisers pay for it. So not only are they putting the sites at risk, but people's jobs as well. We have customers employing 30-50 people, funded from advertising on their content sites. Without it, those people would lose their jobs.

  • KarlAustin
  • over 4 years ago

brillant that company !!if i lived in france id defintly go for it!! their deal is amazing my mom got it , for 37 euros (includes phone line) a month, you get router with blueray player ( no joke ), that also makes your tv smart, hd channels through internet, unlimited calls on mobiles in france ,usa and canada and unlimited calls on 105 countries on landline
dont know why uk is not taking that direction(all internet providers have similar offers in france), uk orange few years ago started doing so with unlimited calls to 100 countries but stopped after a while,
quel dommage

  • stevenfrenchy
  • over 4 years ago

Great deal, until you realise that if all ISPs did it then it'd kill off most the sites you visit or you'd have to pay to visit them - then it's not such a cheap looking deal.

  • KarlAustin
  • over 4 years ago

those deals have been for at least 5 years now i doubt it'll change even with that new free rule,

  • stevenfrenchy
  • over 4 years ago

Well done Free! Does anyone know if any standalone router in the UK can be used to block ads?

  • asylum_seeker
  • over 4 years ago

@stevenfrenchy - you're missing the point. The deal Free have been doing may stand, but it's not such a good deal when all the sites you get for free right now start charging you to visit them because they have no revenue from ads.

Perfectly possible for them to implement it just for visitors who are blocking ads. In fact I know some people who restrict content available to people who block ads already.

  • KarlAustin
  • over 4 years ago

the inoperable Youtube streaming would put me off this business model as a customer

  • herdwick
  • over 4 years ago

KarlAustin no i got it but just ignoring that side i am guessing but maybe it just a trial,somehow youtube is not loading great on free, maybe this might help

  • stevenfrenchy
  • over 4 years ago

Sounds like a great idea to me. Worthy websites will still manage to run, based on the quality of their content. The smaller ones will close, though not having to wade through all those adverts outweighs loosing the smaller websites.

Only a matter of time before other ISP's follow suit.

  • Dave2150
  • over 4 years ago

all ym own websites are true free, no adverts or fees. Although I am considering some advertising now for my own personal revenue, the sites wouldnt be pulled if the ads didnt generate income. The vast majority of websites will have low running costs, the exceptions will be media heavy sites or very popular sites like twitter.

  • chrysalis
  • over 4 years ago

People seem to forget, how bad, ugly, totally disturbing ads can be!!! Do you want a bit of quiet midnight surfing to be interrupted by some loud bloke shouting the benefits of shampoo, or worse???

Then find that it is managed by the same company (yes, starts with G.. :/ ) as many other 'decent' web sites!

if you stop that 'rude' ad, you will also deprive the finances of the other good web sites...

  • comnut
  • over 4 years ago


Do note that Firefox adblock will actually *allow* non-intrusive ads!! see the filter prefs.. :)

I have always said to complainers, IF your ad does *not* flash, move, make no noise, I WILL allow it... and you do not need fancy 'services' to do it!!!

  • comnut
  • over 4 years ago

asylum_seeker: have you seen the length of my adblock list??????
6000 lines, a bit difficult to add to a hardware router, how long would it take you to type in, one website at a time???

  • comnut
  • over 4 years ago

advertisers will always seek ways to stuff your pc full of ads as ever!...today you can get software (some from isp's) that block pop up's pop downs, transparent, and even rolling ad's...there are probably others too,these to name but a few...no doubt we can expect other ad techniques..or even licenses to ad software to get thru the restriction/controls placed in free's routers! (licenses from free perhaps!!)

  • SATSUMAS
  • over 4 years ago

Someone also said elsewhere that they had also drastically cut their allowances. and also said they were the best ISP in France

  • pcoventry76
  • over 4 years ago

It was on several front pages in France on Saturday, for instance in 'Libé' at http://journal.liberation.fr/publication/liberation/1129/#!/0_0

  • ccohen
  • over 4 years ago

Ad blocking only ever works when the ads come from a content delivery network (CDN) or ad network. If a small site owner (as in Karl Austin's example) put their ads onto their site like they add any other JPEG pic etc nobody looses their job. But the power of the very large ad corporations might be curbed. (Power to the people, French people in particular and the rest of it, pretty much in line with common French thinking).

  • MHMertens
  • over 4 years ago

Stop me if im wrong but. The websites make cash by firms advertising on them. All the router does is block the ads at the user end. Therefore,the ads are still on the website and the websites owner still making money from the ads. Its not like the ads are being blocked at source. As long as everyone shuts up doesnt tell anyone they use an adblocker then Whats the problem? Adverts are the bain of mankind. Take TV for example! Prog starts, 30secs later 5mins of adverts. Program back for 5mins then 7 mins of adverts! Really!

  • Mince1978
  • over 4 years ago

Damned rogue capitalists! When will it stop.Most peeps got no cash to spend any way cos of the damned recession so the ads are a waste of time in the first place! Not rocket science is it! lol

  • Mince1978
  • over 4 years ago

@mince1978

The advert model does not work that way, adverts generally (but not always in the online world) make money for the website when someone clicks on it.

So if there is a blank box there is nothing to click on and so no advertising spend and no income. This can mean staff wages not being paid.

Which channel is showing 5min 30sec of show and 7 minutes of adverts?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 4 years ago

Not to mention any that are sold on a CPM basis will see the number of impressions drop as well - as the number of times the ad is displayed is tracked. Not just how many times it is clicked.

  • KarlAustin
  • over 4 years ago

Ok..maybe a slight exageration of tv adverts but it wont be long before its like that will it.. I need a tv which automatically switches to surreal views and soft soothing music when the ad break comes on! lol :-) As regards the way ads worked on websites I had not fully understood there intricate workings.. I'll stick to playing World of Tanks and leave politics alone! Oh no, i gave someone free advertising..Bugger! lol ;-)

  • Mince1978
  • over 4 years ago

You could say that under the present system advertisers are freeloading on content - they are like parasites. If advertisers were to deliver their own content almost no-one would want to see it (hence ad blockers). It is manufacturers who deliver "content" (aka products) which advertisers "sell". If the products were to compete on true worth rather than memetic marginality I wonder what that would look like. Is the information age really driven by dross?

  • lunanbay
  • over 4 years ago

The rise of netflix and lovefilm is changing TV advertising, as for a few you can watch loads of stuff without adverts, and the rise of the PVR and fast forward.

Hence any drinks can will be visible in a show as product placement.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 4 years ago

Freeride Games now have Banner Ads which make some games unplayable as they freeze while the advert is showing. (Particularly the Curry's one).I downloaded an ad blocker which solved that problem, but certain games (Moorhuhn for example) also stop the game to show a 20 second advert,as well as the banner ad, which states "Clicking on the ad will not affect game play" ignoring the fact that the game has already been interrupted. Sorry Curry's but I won't buy anything from you again. You Tube keeps buffering so I don't use it anymore.

  • dragon1945
  • over 4 years ago

From my friend in France to whom I forwarded this link.

"Just got home after hearing on the car radio news that the French Deputy Minister for Small and Medium Businesses, Innovation and the Digital Economy met the head of Free this morning and has insisted that they disable (remove?) the Adblock function immediately (i.e. today!). There will also be negotiations with Google and the like before the middle of the month. I don't always believe what I hear on the news but at least it's a promising sign!"

  • Mikejc
  • over 4 years ago

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