Beating Ad Blockers Is Simple, Adland Tells Publishers

The Association of Publishers and context advertising company Vibrant Media have been crunching the numbers among publishers and ad buyers, and the outcome seems clear. Ad buyers are ready for concerted action to nip the problem of ad blocking in the bud.

Nearly all ad buyers (93%) agree that a trade body among publishers to combat ad blocking would be a good idea. The same proportion of ad buyers are also regularly or occasionally checking publishers to see how they deal with ad blocking before they plan and buy campaigns because they want to ensure their campaigns have the best chance of being seen.

The big takeaway, AOP and Vibrant claim, is that ad buyers do not get a feeling that publishers know how to tackle ad blocking even though they claim that nearly 40% of all pages are affected by ad blocking. Sounds like a high figure to me when the IAB UK is claiming that one in five block ads, but we can at least agree on this. Ad blocking is a huge issue, ad buyers are monitoring publishers to see what they are doing about it, and publishers don't always appear to know what they should be doing.

So what should they be doing? According to around half of ad buyers, a day of action where publishers extol the virtues of how advertising funds content would be a very good idea. Nearly the same proportion support an initiative that makes a great deal of sense to me -- have a body for publishers who only use acceptable ad standards and then those publishers should collectively ban the blockers.

Interestingly, the researchers claim that only a minuscule proportion support an absolute ban on blockers, while nearly half support content providers suggesting a visitor disable their blocker for that session to access a specific piece of information. Nine in ten say the obvious way forward is to not run interruptive ad formats.

It sounds to me like the ad buyers have pretty much got it right. With the work the Coalition for Better Ads is putting in, through naming and shaming the 12 worst desktop and mobile ad formats, there is already a guide of what to avoid. They're pretty obvious, really. Ads that cover over content, dominate the page, and my most hated of all -- videos that auto play with the audio turned on.

Publishers already know this, and it can probably only be because of competitive rivalries that the ad buyers' suggestion of concerted industry-wide action hasn't happened yet. It's the most obvious move for all concerned. If the country's top publishers all agreed to do away with the annoying ad formats, there would be a level playing field and some real punch behind a demand that anyone visiting sites must disable their ad-blocking technology.

Act together, and the industry has nothing to fear. It also has nothing to lose, as ad blockers are simply digital shoplifters who do not want to pay their way in helping to fund the content they consume.

Given that ad buyers are clearly checking out publishers for what they do about ad blocking, it just beggars belief the main publishers have yet to form this mutually beneficial club, doesn't it? It would be a simple plan. Get together as many publishers as possible, ban the bad ads and then agree to block the blockers. Simple.

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