Forget Privacy Concerns -- Block The Blockers And They'll Soon Come Back

In the week when Ad Week Europe got to hear that privacy campaigners reckon it's illegal for publishers to check if someone's using ad blocking software, more depressing news from eMarketer. Its research suggests that a quarter of UK Internet users will be using ad blockers by the end of next year.

Now, while privacy campaigners' idiotic notions of legality can be treated with the disdain they deserve, the latest research is a little more worrying. But first to the legal concerns. I had my fill with privacy campaigners many years ago but are they seriously suggesting it's OK to steal content from someone but it's not for OK for a publisher to check if they're about to have their wallet pinched? Well, the only words I have for people espousing such rubbish cannot be repeated. There may be a part of an EU law somewhere to support their argument, I'd love to see them argue the case in front of a court. So let's move along swiftly to the data.

According to eMarketer's figures, the one in five who will be blocking ads this year will rise to just over one in four (27%) next year. This means that while one in ten were blocking just over a year ago in 2014, it will be one in four just three years later.

Can you imagine any other market sleepwalking to a point where a quarter of the population have allowed themselves to enjoy the fruits of what they provide without paying for it? When you consider all you have to do in digital marketing is, well, actually, nothing. Just sit there and enjoy content with advertising that runs alongside it. It's not exactly a lot to ask, is it? Good content is generally either paid for by subscription or by advertising -- often both -- so when the public are getting content for free, it's pretty galling that they switch off the ads.

The Advertising Week Europe panel suggested it was too strong a term to call ad blockers thieves. Well, I don't. I also believe the Government was spot on to label ad-blocking software a modern-day protection racket. Any tech that blocks ads on sites unless the publisher pays to be whitelisted is very accurately described as a protection racket.

So let's forget about privacy campaigners who, by definition, are paid to go around having privacy concerns. Their pointless interpretation of the law is not needed here. What is are publishers with a spine that run scripts to see whether someone is trying to pinch their wallet backed up with a message to stop blocking or move along.

There is nothing certain about eMarketer's prediction that one in four will be blocking next year. It works on the assumption that today's levels continue. But if publishers take the fight back to the blockers there is nothing to say the trend could start reversing as those without access to top quality content decide it's better to ditch their blocking ways to get decent content.

A very early sign of this might be already happening came from recent research that found blockers are not only preventing ads from reaching users, they're also interfering with the working of Web sites, such as BA's online booking facility. The more ad blocking gets in the way of a rich Internet experience, the sooner people will ditch the blockers. Publishers have a huge role to play in this.

Next story loading loading..