Think back to 2012 -- a big year for Facebook and its users. Monetization was in the air; the social network rolled out news feed ads in January, promoted posts in the springtime, and sponsored search results that summer. CEO Mark Zuckerberg had long since made his peace with advertising, but it wasn’t until Facebook’s IPO that users began to feel the full weight of this revenue stream, when ads began to displace status updates and photos.
This was also the year that ad blockers took off. Around since the '90s, these browser extensions -- which can remove all Web advertisements, or just those deemed offensive -- had enjoyed a mild but stagnant success. In 2012, however, search interest in them nearly doubled. By November, “adblock” was a more popular Google query than “kittens.” Last year search interest doubled again. At this rate, searches for ad blockers will soon overtake those for Lady Gaga -- although to be fair, the pop queen is in something of a bear market.