Ad Blocking: Can Publishers Catch A Break?

Publishers and the advertising industry have long tried to sweep the topic of ad blocking under the rug. Their idea has been that the fewer consumers who know about it, the better off everyone else is.

Their efforts have met with little success. According to a report released by PageFair and Adobe in September, ad blocking is no secret. The report found 27.6% of Internet users in the U.S. use Adblock software, with that number as high as 41% for 18- to 29-year-olds.

When consumers avoid ads, it’s publishers that suffer. A survey of 200 publishers dependent upon ad revenue revealed that 76% are very worried about the proliferation of ad blocking software that limits their revenue. The Internet depends on advertising. Ads are the only reason consumers can access so much content for free.

In a blog post on The Guardian, Adblock Plus founder Till Faida explained that his goal was not to rid the Internet of all advertisements -- just the ones that are obtrusive to the user experience. He acknowledged that advertising is an essential funder of the Internet, but called for advertisers to find the balance between getting their message across and interrupting the user experience.



The advertising industry needs to band together to help publishers make more money. A healthy publisher ecosystem is vital to the success of the advertising industry and must be a priority.

First, advertisers can commit to ad formats that are less intrusive and flow better with the user experience -- unit economics are often superior. Then, in addition to native advertising, the industry must help publishers find opportunities to generate revenue from their data. Publishers are sitting on a potential gold mine of data and need ways to monetize this data (without sacrificing security or consumer privacy).

Deterministic data is more in-demand than ever, as marketers focus on effectiveness and start to question cheap, probabilistic data. Securing and verifying publisher data substantially increases its worth.  Ultimately, the key to monetizing publisher data is to match it with brands’ existing consumer data, making CRM retargeting and attribution possible.  This approach is an example of what will generate an additional revenue stream for publishers outside of advertising.

Ad blocking has the potential to do serious damage to the Internet if left unchecked. It can best be addressed by eliminating the annoying, disruptive ads that caused consumers to seek out ad blocking technology in the first place. New ad formats that add value for consumers and improve user experience are a step in the right direction. In the meantime, the advertising industry needs to help publishers create a hedge by monetizing their data now.

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