“VAAC Army” is an Austin-made app for Android, iOS and Google Chrome that allows users to slip past a video ad by saying the name of an advertiser out loud. Credit: VAAC Army

This week’s Digital Savant column is about the touchy issue of ad blocking and ad skipping on the web. It’s something that’s suddenly become a lot more mainstream with Apple’s newest mobile iOS update, which allows for apps that do just that.

For the column I spoke to the CEO of an Austin company, VAAC Army, that’s begun to offer an alternative to ad blockers that will please advertisers, web surfers and content makers, but of course, that’s a tall order and it’s too early to tell if something like that will be a success.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

One Austin company has stepped into the fray by creating an ad-skipping app, “VAAC Army.” CEO Stan Wong has worked in technology and real estate and, about six years ago, while watching CNN online, got frustrated by a video ad that kept popping up.

“I watched nine or 10 video articles that day. I saw the exact same pre-roll ad,” Wong said. Two years later, still sore on the experience, he had the idea for what he calls “voice-activated ad acceleration.” He wondered if there was a way to help publishers, brands and web surfers all at the same time. The deal would be this: Video watchers could skip an ad, but in order to do so, they’d have to say the name of the brand out loud.

Saying the name out loud, Wong says, makes for better retention than typing it in. He says it could help advertisers connect better with viewers, allowing those viewers to avoid sitting through an entire ad and helping publishers keep putting out content.

“Ad blockers hurt a lot of people,” Wong says. “I’m an amateur filmmaker myself. I know a lot of independent filmmakers who do this for a living and it’s very, very harmful. We’re looking for a solution.”

You can find the whole column on MyStatesman.com. What do you think about ad blockers? In case you haven’t noticed, the website you’re looking at has ads on it, and much of our business is ad-supported, so we’re pretty sensitive to the issue. Do you use ad-blocking/skipping software and if so, why? Do online ads, especially on mobile, frustrate you or do you notice them much at all? What’s your ethical take on ad blocking?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.