The problem here is that Kalashnikover_Rebbe doesn't understand how ad blocking software works, nor how online advertising works. You cannot compare online advertising to offline advertising. They might have the same purpose, and the same name, but they are completely different things.
First, online ads are measured in "Clicks" as well as "Eyeballs".
Advertising in general in the non-interactive sphere, works on statistical models and general usage, and a lot of unknown information. Online advertising works because of precise, recorded, and individualized information. The main difference between advertising on a billboard or TV or Radio, is that the information only flows in one direction. Advertisement to person. But on the internet, information flows in two directions. The ads and the person being advertised to, interact with each other. It's more like walking into a store and engaging with a sales person, than it is viewing an ad.
There is a large "pipeline" of the way advertising works on the internet.
First, you have the ad agency, which creates the ad. Some company hires an ad agency to create an ad. The ad agency is then given a budget of how much they can pay various websites to display the ad. This part of the contract is never affected by ad blockers or the like.
The next step is that the ad agency (or an ad aggregator such as Google or DoubleClick) sets up a deal with various websites. This deal depends on where the ads are shown, how popular the website is, et cetera. Here, a term is used to measure the effectiveness of the ad. CPM (Clicks per M (either thousand or Million)) Meaning the Ad Agency tells website X, that I will give you $1.00 for every thousand people who click on the ad. Using various other metrics, a website might argue that their users are more prone to click and then purchase an item than other websites and might demand a $5.00 CPM or a website might have completely random ads and only be offered $0.25 CPM. This part of the contract and process is highly affected by ad blockers.
There are two types of ad blockers.
- The ad blocker stops the ad from being retrieved from the server in the first place.
- The ad blocker lets the ad be retrieved from the server, but then hides it, making it invisible to the user.
Each of those types of ad blockers affects, a different person in the chain, and is potentially stealing from different parties.
The first type of ad blocker, creates a discrepancy, between the statistics of the ad company and the statistics of the website which gets paid for the ads. The ad company will see that only 10,000 ads were "viewed"; and, of those 10,000 views, 100 people clicked. However, the website owner will see that page was viewed 50,000 times, but only 100 people clicked. If the website company is honest, this will greatly hurt the relationship between the ad agency and the website. So, in this case, this ad blocker, may not be 'stealing', but it is definitely "putting a stumbling block", causing the website owner to lie and be dishonest with the ad agency company. Because they will use the 50,000 views number when setting up the initial CPM, but will be getting paid based on the 10,000 number giving them more money. In other words, by using the ad blocker in this scenario, you are effectively making it very hard for the Website company to resist using "false weights and measures". I know this, because I had to quit a job over this issue. The pressure was just too high, to not be false about what was happening. The ad agency wanted to "dump" ads from their budget in X amount of time, and the hosting websites wanted to make more money. There was no incentive for any individual party to be honest. (Very similar to what happened in the mortgage scandals)
The second type of ad blocker, gives the ad agency, and the website the same statistics. However, those statistics are wrong, and nobody will know why. Everybody will think that 50,000 views are being seen, and that the ads are viewed 50,000 times, but only 100 people click. They will assume then, that the ads are placed in the wrong part of the page, or the wrong type of ads are being displayed. But the reality, is that they are getting 10,000 views of the ad, and 100 clicks. (Which is the expected rate). This means the website company will spend many days and hours and time trying to "improve their Click rate". Here you are stealing with geneivat daat. I can not tell you the number of hours and days and stress and even one UX expert losing their job, because they insisted the Ads were placed in the best place possible, but data was not showing improved results. I do not know if that was because of ad blockers, poorly chosen ads, or just a bad audience. But, if it was because of ad blockers, nobody would be able to know, and the assumption is that it's the designer's fault for not getting more clicks.
The fact that ad blockers are not enforceable to legislate against, or that people demand freedom of their computer screens and so nobody would be willing to legislate against them, doesn't remove the fact that they can in theory cause serious harm and damages to people who's lives and livelihoods depend on those ads being displayed and recorded accurately.