The Interactive Advertising Bureau will offer small publishers new tools that could help them combat ad blocking, the organization said on Tuesday.
The mechanisms aim to help publishers determine whether their visitors are using ad blockers, and if so, send those people messages related to ad blocking and its effect on publishers.
"What we're saying to publishers is experiment. We're not backing any one solution," Scott Cunningham, IAB senior vice president for technology and ad operations told reporters on Tuesday.
One possibility is that publishers could ask visitors to turn off ad blockers in exchange for content. A study conducted by the IAB last year found that 60% of the people who use ad blockers would turn them off in order to access content.
Not all publishers say they agree with this approach. Rick Jaworski -- who is proprietor of the site JoyOfBaking.com and a member of the IAB's "Long-Tail Alliance" of small online publishers -- said on Tuesday that he hasn't yet decided whether to send messages about ad blockers to visitors who use them.
Jaworski estimates that 10% of the visitors to JoyOfBaking.com do so. A recent study by Adobe and PageFair (which says it can help publishers "restore blocked ad inventory") found that 45 million U.S. Web users, representing 15% of Web users in the country, now deploy an ad blocker.
The IAB's new offerings for small publishers are part of a larger industry initiative against ad blocking. Other components include a call to reduce clutter and use "nondisruptive" and "noninvasive" ad formats. The IAB also unveiled a new Web site section, www.iab.net/adblocking, dedicated to its efforts against ad blocking.
"The IAB strongly opposes ad blocking," says Cunningham, who characterizes the battle between publishers and ad-blocking companies as a "war between engineers."
Cunningham says the IAB is still considering legal options against ad blockers, but hasn't yet reached any decisions.