A report that speaks of massive growth in the use of ad blocking and Apple, which recently has opened Ad block on their mobile devices, has renewed the debate about blocking online advertising.
Adblocking is not a new phenomenon but until a few years ago, it has mainly been for the dexterous users. Since then there has come many new ways for easy install of “extensions” in the browser, such as Adblock and Adblock Plus, which give you the opportunity to remove all ads, also paid ads such as Google, Facebook and video advertising on YouTube. It has mainly been a phenomenon on PC’s such as desktops and laptops.
It works relatively simple as the “call” to advertising and tracking elements are blocked and when these third-part elements are comparatively easy to identify it has been an easy matter for ad blockers and their many volunteers (of which there are many) to find and eliminate these. Then the user receive no ads, which means that the advertiser does not pay for the user and the media therefore gets no earnings.
Adblocking: Black and White but with many shades of grey.
The media lose money, the advertiser lose data and coverage but in the user’s case it is about the experienced profit; the web is more quickly, there is less noise and there is no ad tracking.
From a user perspective, most of it make sense. A visit to several Danish websites shows more advertising than there is on a speedway driver outfit and then there is much more advertising and tracking technology so the website often “hang” for a long period. Right now, it is advertising, which is paying for the online content especially when the user’s willingness to pay for online content seems far away.
The latest report from Pagefair and Adobe shows a bleak picture of the user behavior as they get together around ad blockers, which leads to descending revenue for the media.
Danish figures says that 23.3% is blocking advertising on their devices and 98% of the blockage takes place on desktops / laptops. It is perhaps worth noticing that at least one of the authors of the reports have an interest in high ad block numbers as they are “helping” media who have problems with ad blocking.
Another thing is that even though the report talks about a strong growth in the use of ad blockers it does not appear to be read off directly in the Danish figures as the same report from last year shows 21,2% .
The scale has done that several media is trying to block users who has adblock software installed.
However, it is often a short deadline as it does not cover all ad blockers and it does not take long for the “voluntary contributors” to code the ad blockers to get around this blockage. The media solution is “native advertising”/Advertorials” where paid and sponsored content is placed close to the editorial but even this is starting to get blocked. It was easier with video ads, which is much more difficult to block since the content and advertising often run with the same “power”.
Blocking ofadvertisement: biting the bullet
Most mobile traffic has so far steered clear but after the release of Apples’ latest version of the IOS; it is now possible to install software to block advertisement on mobile devices. As traffic is increasingly coming from these devices and the ads are beginning to move here, it will have major implications for the entire advertisement eco-system. There was already unrest before this update.
After the launch, you immediately saw the blocking software raised to the top in the Apple app store http://www.dr.dk/nyheder/viden/tech/anti-reklame-apps-hitter-stort-i-app-store but it did not take long before some developers began to see the long-term implications. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/technology/apple-ios-9s-enabling-of-ad-blocking-prompts-backlash.html.
It is too early to say where it ends, as there are a number of things that is not “arrived” yet.
First, it will be interesting to see how serious the Danish media prepare for the battle against ad blockers; because there is no doubt it is starting to affect them on earnings.
Secondly, the next 14 days will be interesting to follow from Apples point of view, as we can see how many people who ends up blocking advertisement on their devices. If it becomes very comprehensive the big winner will be the ones who serve (almost) all of their advertising through apps such as Facebook and Apple, which now can relive their iAd advertisement product.
Then there is Google/YouTube,which have recently begun to expose users who blocks video ads on YouTube for a 3-minute commercial spot. http://9to5google.com/2015/09/07/google-chrome-adblock-bypass/
Finally, as a user (and even as ad buyers) we can hope there will be a much more proactive approach from the media to create a more balanced content and advertising experience on the Danish websites, while there must be an understanding of what the consequences of the blockage ultimately will be for the internet we know today.https://hbr.org/2015/08/ad-blockings-unintended-consequences
The solution will probably be a compromise: the last word is not said and the last advertising is not blocked yet…. Or as the browser will say Failed to load resource: net :: ERR_BLOCKED_BY_CLIENT