Martin Sorrell Says Ad Blockers Have Not Had A Significant Impact On Ad Business

In an earnings call earlier this week, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell downplayed the furor over ad blocking and attempted to institute some calm to the marketplace.  

In the call, Sorrell said: “Estimates that have been made so far about the impact of ad blocking have been on the smaller side." But ensuring that all is not well with ad blocking, Sorrell added: "That doesn’t mean, by the way, that we can be complacent about it and it doesn’t mean it won’t become important.” 

And while it seems the public has no patience for advertising and is seemingly willing to pay for content, Sorrell noted, “advertising does perform a useful economic function. It reduces the cost of content.” 

Sorrell said that agencies need to create more compelling work to combat a consumer's need to block ads though once a consumer makes the decision to use an ad blocker, the chance to be more creative and compelling is lost. 



And not that this will ever happen -- but Sorrell also said one way to combat ad blocking would be to have "Google turn off ad blockers invading YouTube." 

Of course, more compelling owned and paid content can help, but only until the IAB decides to force content marketers to wrap their content in a tag that can then be blocked by ad blockers.  

The net of all of this, though, is that content still needs to be paid for; either via advertising or via subscription fees. We've seen plenty of people are willing to shell out money for ad free content in the form of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go and others but the same can't really be said for people shelling out money to view ad free content on websites. That content still needs to be supported financially and if it's not, it will simply go away. 

Of course, publishers are not taking ad blocking lightly and are fighting back. IAB General Counsel Mike Zaneis said: “Ad blocking is beginning to have a material impact on publisher revenues. The free internet that consumers demand cannot coexist with the continued proliferation of ad blockers" and he adds publishers are seeking “aggressive solutions."

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