With the ad+content model, value can be exchanged quickly and efficiently by encouraging the consumption of ads while the content is given away. Advertising and content live in a symbiotic relationship.
Now, consider what happens with an online ad blocker. The ad blocker’s purpose is to enable a person to consume the content of a Web site without consuming the advertising. If an ad is blocked during a particular user’s visit then that “ad space” can never be sold to a marketer.
It’s reported that more than 30% of all Internet users in the US have an ad blocker installed and adoption is increasing rapidly. If sites lose 30%+ of their income, it’s not hard to see that there is going to be a big problem.
What will cause a correction that resets the internet ecosystem back to a state of value-for-value balance? The correction will occur because people will stop using online ad blockers. But why would we decide to stop using online ad blockers?
The answer is that people will decide to stop using online ad blockers in the future because the ad blockers won’t work anymore.
Imagine if one day soon, people with ad blockers go to their favorite, free-content site and there are no ads and no content. Instead there is a message in the middle of the screen that says, “Thank you for visiting. If you would like to enjoy our content just turn off your ad blocker.”
After all, what is the point of letting people have your content for free if your goal is to make money from it? I think that this strategy, when industry adoption reaches a critical mass, will cause the abandonment of ad blockers.
To make this strategy most effective, we must acknowledge that consumers have many issues with the current experience of advertising on the Internet. Web sites will need to both take away the purpose and power of the ad blocker and also give power to their visitors. Why not ask the visitor what kind of advertising they’d like to see and how they’d like to see it? Let them tell you how much of their profile they are comfortable with you using to target ads. Let them decide to see less content in order to see less advertising and vice versa.
Advertising as a payment strategy needs to be woven much more dynamically and purposefully into content and user experience in order to cause individuals to change their behavior.
It will require a lot of work and it won’t happen overnight. This transition will only begin when technology solutions exist that are effective and easy for sites to implement. If there isn’t anything on the market yet, you can bet that more than a few people are thinking about creating it. I don’t think the ad blocker will be able to evolve a strategy against this technology because ad blockers will never be able to force the content to show up.
So, will the ad+content sites be willing to pay for this technology?
Well, let’s say, for example, that you owned a store where you sold widgets and you noticed that many customers were just taking the widgets without paying. What would you do about it? You would probably lock up your widgets in those big plastic boxes designed to prevent shoplifting. And I think if sites had a way to lock up their content so you couldn’t consume it without consuming an ad, they would be willing to pay for it.