Agencies, Brands Debate Ad-Blocking Options At SXSW

AUSTIN TEXAS -- Some publishers believe all it takes for consumers to turn off the ad blockers in browser software is to make better ads. Others like Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media, believe agencies and brands need to better align.

Along with DVorkin, experts from Dish and Adblock Plus, and moderator Rob Griffin, chief innovation officer at Almighty, debated the definition of an "acceptable ad business" at MediaPost's OMMA SXSW at the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) Friday.

The focus on how to make advertising friendlier to consumers and site visitors has become a never-ending battle that spans from display to search. Google has held a longtime position when it comes to returning relevant information and content in query results. 

Finding a better experience might not be that easy.

"I'm a big proponent of Adblock and Adblock Plus, because I don't believe display ads work and banner blindness has conditioned us," Michael Killi, SEO and reputation management at Wyndham Vacation Ownership, told Media Daily News. "CPC rates for display ads are minuscule, and I don't believe you need display ads in media campaigns, because they interrupt your experience on the site."



While he admits consumers are fed up and sick of advertising interrupting the experience, Killi believe there are other ways to market and advertise on publisher sites.

"About 200 million Internet users who block ads," said Ben Williams, head of operations at Adblock Plus. "We have more than 500,000 downloads, averaging about 3 million per week."

Pointing to the music industry and iTunes, Williams said there's more than one way to fund content. Micropayments could become one options, but it will take more than a handful of publishers getting on board, Williams said. "It will be a race to the best content," he said.

DISH continues to focus on getting better at ad targeting. The company doesn't want to "pray and spray" to bring people in and stay, said Marjorie Gray, digital brand manager at DISH.

In December 2015, Forbes -- a media owner with an ad-supported business model -- began searching for the middle ground when it comes to serving ads on its site to visitors using ad-blocking software.

It began running tests that asked ad-block users to turn off the browser-based software before entering the site. Forbes would reduce the number of ads served during the visitors' stay.

Initially, Forbes found that non-ad blockers saw about 2 page views per visit and those that Forbes managed to convert viewed 2.8 page views, according to Forbes' DVorkin.

Most recently, Forbes ran a survey. Those who answered the questions could enter the site even with the ad blocker on.

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