One of the best things about spending time with family over the holidays is that I always learn some really nifty tips and ideas from my Gen Y nieces and nephews. This year was no exception.

1. AdBlock

Do you stream video? Are you tired of all those irritating ads on various websites and social media sites? I just installed AdBlock ( on my Chrome and Safari browsers, and I love this application.

If you stream any of your favorite over-the-air television shows, this is the best application ever. For example, I have one 30-minute TV show that I enjoy watching. If I stream it, it will have 18 minutes of content plus a total of 15 commercials.

AdBlock seamlessly eliminates the ads and the show plays as a straight 18-minute video. In fact, AdBlock provides an even better experience than using my DVR. I don’t have to fast forward through commercials — the commercials just magically disappear.

According to my nephew, it also works with Hulu, although AdBlock and Hulu are constantly battling to block and unblock each other.

AdBlock also works when you are surfing websites as well as social media sites. In just three days, it has already blocked 1,704 ads for me. Talk about eliminating a major waste of time with unwanted ads and annoying pop-ups!

AdBlock is free, but they ask that you make a donation to help them keep their service running. You can also help by spreading the word about what they do.

(Editor’s note: A similar browser extension, Adblock Plus, is available for Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Opera).

2. Chromecast

Where AdBlock will come in very handy is with our new “Chromecast.” Chromecast is billed as “the easiest way to watch online video on your TV.” This system works with Android, iOS and Windows. Chromecast allows you to send video or anything on the Web to your TV from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

What does ad blocking mean for your real estate business?

As a consumer, I love these applications. Now you may be wondering how ad blocking services work on the various real estate websites where you may be paying for ads.

In the screen capture below, I searched “real estate for sale Austin, TX” on Chrome using AdBlock.


You can see that AdBlock has removed all the paid Google ads that normally appear at the top and on the side of the page. What does continue to show up is the list of brokers who serve this area.

Ads on the “Big Three”

When I viewed a single house on, AdBlock eliminated seven ads. When I looked at a second home, it blocked another four ads.

When I visited Trulia, the ads for Wells Fargo, the soy-based mattresses and the Trulia Partner Center that appeared on Firefox disappeared on Chrome. The three “featured agents” at the bottom of the page were still visible. When I viewed three new listings on Trulia, AdBlock blocked 10 ads.

When I went to Zillow, AdBlock blocked one ad on the search page. When I looked at two pictures of a single listing, AdBlock prevented 13 ads from displaying.

The same was true for Facebook as well. AdBlock prevented seven ads from displaying on my profile page. On the Tech Group for Real Estate Agents page, it blocked 11 ads. When I kept that window open for about 10 minutes, the number of blocked ads jumped to 29!

Where is your ad spend for 2014?

While the vast majority of Internet users are not using ad blocking tools, this war is just beginning. Consumers are tired of being bombarded with unwanted ads and emails. We waste vast amounts of time waiting for these ads to loads on our devices. Making matters worse, many advertisers harvest our information and bombard us with even more unwelcome email ads.

As ad-blocking systems continue to become more prevalent, a pay-per-click rather than an “impression”-based strategy will make the most sense. When you use “pay-per-click,” you are charged only when a Web visitor clicks on your ad. If no one sees your ad, you are not charged. What is unclear is whether blocked ads are still counted as impressions for which the advertiser is charged.

Content and word-of-mouth marketing rule

Instead of relying on ads that broadcast messages about your services, here are two much more effective approaches.

First, create quality content that your clients want. This can include photos, videos or blogs about what is great about living in your local area. Better yet, provide this type of content for every one of your listings. For your buyers, you could provide a first-time-buyer guide, as well as information about how the purchase and closing process works in your area.

Second, get other people to tell your story through the use of video testimonials and agent reviews. My nieces and nephews were “Yelping” to find restaurant reviews, as well as information about other services they use.

Rather than fighting this trend, use it to your advantage in 2014.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at

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