It’s a consumer’s right to block ads. Yes, you read that correctly.
“The Internet is less like a newspaper, magazine or TV. It’s more like a car. You can customize your car any way you want to,” Ben Williams, communications and operations manager, AdBlockPlus, Eyeo GmbH, told an audience at the Ad Age Digital conference on Tuesday.
Williams makes a good point about consumer choice and having the Internet experience you want vs. one that you don't want. Consumers should have the right to choose what they want or don't want to see on the Web. There are more than 200 million people who have elected to employ ad blockers. One may assume it's because they don't want to be interrupted by any advertising and perceive it as as bogging down their use of the internet. Consumer are voting against advertising with their ad blockers.
But Ben Barokas, Founder and CEO of Sourcepoint, made an even better point about consumer choice. He maintains that publishers already have the ability to offer choice. “The real advertising choice is to make the value exchange transparent and make the content worth something in the minds of consumers. By introducing clear and concise consumer choice, we create a viable media ecosystem,” Barokas said. He projected that in five years, an explicit value exchange will exist in which consumers clearly choose to offer direct payment for content or choose to enjoy free content supported by advertising.
Further, Barokas argued that education is needed to make consumers aware that their content consumption is paid for by advertisers.
This seems like a simple point, but it’s actually radical. How many people actually stop to think about that? (People outside of the advertising industry, that is).
What would consumer education about advertising options look like? Is the media ecosystem, i.e., the publishers, willing to do this? And if so, how will they do it? Publishers already have premium subscription models. Pay walls go up after five, seven or 10 article views. To view video content, pre-roll is the standard obstacle, or often, there's a "Skip" to watch option. But there is no "education." Publishers are on their own.
“We need to have that conversation. By providing choice to the consumer—‘you can have this content subsidized by advertising, or you can pay directly through micropayments, apps or a subscription’—you’re giving people choice. Those choices represent a level of transparency that we have yet to find at scale.”