AFDS 2022: Interview with AdGuard CTO and Co-Founder, Andrey Meshkov

AFDS 2022: Interview with AdGuard CTO and Co-Founder, Andrey Meshkov

Ad filtering, Rean Thomas, 21. September 2022

Ad-Filtering Dev Summit is back for its fifth year. We sat down with CTO and co-founder of AdGuard, Andrey Meshkov, to hear why he’s looking forward to this year’s summit. Having attended every summit since its inception, Meshkov is excited to gather again this year with the ad blocking and ad filtering communities, as well as browsers, advertisers and publishers, so everyone can sit down to talk about improving the collective online experience, protect user privacy and support those who maintain the filters.

  • Share with us your thoughts about the Ad-Filtering Dev Summit so far

I loved the idea from the very beginning, so I attended every summit that was held. In my opinion, this summit has done a lot to bring people involved in content blocking together.

Before the summit began to be held, we were quite disconnected. This was true for both the developers and the community of filter maintainers. Obviously, we were all a bit aware of each other, but knowing someone and just hearing about them is a big difference.

So I'm very grateful to eyeo for finding the energy to organize summits every year. We’re also excited that they invited us to sponsor the event this year. Hopefully, this will prove even more that the summit is a joint effort undertaken by the developer community.

  • What are you really looking forward to seeing this year?

One of the major topics this year will be Manifest V3, and I'm eager to listen to each of the talks dedicated to it. I love that Anton from Brave will focus on the collaboration in the "post-MV3 world". Truly, MV3 creates risks that the filter maintainers’ community will be split into those willing to keep supporting Chrome, and those who will refuse to do so for a number of reasons. Some will do it for ideological reasons, some because it would be hard to juggle filter support for different browsers (maintaining a list for Chrome will indeed become a problematic task). And I find that one of the most important tasks of content blocker developers is to minimize the damage and facilitate the work of filter maintainers.

As for the line-up this year, I'm really looking forward to it and would love to listen to all the talks. As always, much time is devoted to privacy protection, which is great. It's not just ads we block; tracking protection is one of the core goals of any blocker.

Also, this is the first post-COVID summit and I'm looking forward to seeing folks in person.

  • What’s your biggest takeaway from this/previous summits you’ve attended?

I remember the very first summit in San Francisco where I thought how enjoyable it was to be around like-minded people who literally understood you at a glance. And the biggest takeaway was that there are actually a lot of such people.

  • Why do you think Ad-Filtering Dev Summit is beneficial for the industry?

It is very beneficial for a myriad of reasons. I'll try to list the first ones that come to mind.

First and foremost, it gathers us together, allows us to get to know each other and join forces on certain issues. Sometimes we need to present a united front: it is much easier to be heard when there are many of you, and it is totally useless to knock your head against a brick wall all alone. Sometimes, we need to team up or sync up technically (which we will probably need to get through MV3).

Second, it's an excellent opportunity to be inspired by new ideas for our products. I'm speaking about academics' reports in the first place, but developers' reports are often pretty interesting, too.

Third, it's a perfect chance to communicate directly with browser representatives and try to convey our thoughts to those on whom the future of content blocking directly depends. I believe it's equally important for them to get our feedback.

And finally, it's a chance to meet a lot of fascinating people.

  • What is your vision for the upcoming summit and beyond?

I have already answered above about this year’s summit, but it will be very difficult to predict anything about the future ones. Let me try to make a small prediction about the "main themes" of the two future summits, but do not take it too seriously:

  1. 2023 — we'll be summing up the MV3 migration (a topic that won't let us go for a long time).
  2. 2024 — browser extensions will either be announced for mobile Chrome or will be available in it already, so we'll discuss this innovation.
  • What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in joining the summit?

It's too late to give advice, this someone has already made the right decision and wants to join the summit. 

Join us, it’s worth it!

The Ad-Filtering Dev Summit is taking place 5 and 6 October 2022 at Capital C in Amsterdam or join online. Either way it’s free. Sign up now to hear AdGuard’s Andrey Meshkov and other speakers from Meta, Mozilla, Opera and more!