Hope You Enjoyed Yesterday's Ad-Free Internet, Thanks to a Google Glitch

By Alissa Walker on at

A bug in the service that delivers Google ads to thousands of websites went down yesterday, producing acres of blank pixels where banner ads once resided. It was something of an ad break.

At fault was a global outage in the tool called DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), which reported the "extremely critical issue" in its forums. Websites affected included publications like BuzzFeed, Time, Forbes, Vox and even some of Gawker's US sites were apparently ad-free for some time.

The effect was similar to an AdBlock experience, with white or gray blocks replacing ads, or some of them just disappearing entirely. Quartz was quick enough to capture screengrabs, some of which are quite comical.

Hope You Enjoyed Today's Ad-Free Internet, Thanks to a Google Glitch

People began to report the outages around 2pm GMT but most sites seemed to be back to normal by 4pm our time. Websites were also reporting disabling DFP to keep themselves up and running.

DoubleClick posted a statement once everything was back to normal:

DoubleClick for Publishers experienced an outage this morning impacting publishers globally, across their video, display, native and mobile formats. Our team has worked quickly to fix the software bug and it's now back up and running, so our publisher partners can return to funding their content.

While the internet-based companies who rely on those ads for revenue were certainly distraught—it's estimated they lost about $1 million per hour—I can't say many internet readers were upset.

Most sites seem to be back to normal now, but did you get any particularly ironic screenshots of the unofficially ad-free afternoon? [Quartz, Gigaom]

Screenshots by Quartz