This week has brought big news in regards to ad blocking with both Forbes and GQ essentially blocking people from using ad blockers on their website. Users who are using ad blockers would come across a message that they must disable their ad-blocking software in order to view the websites. Now that we have gotten all the blocking of blockers information out of the way, let’s take a look at why this is so important to our industry.
There has been much discussion over the past couple of weeks in regards to ad blocking technology and how it is affecting publishers. Consumers argue that the reason they have installed ad blockers is because they don’t like the user experience and how many ads they are exposed to when they visit the website. But isn’t that exactly what they are; consumers?
Let’s take a quick look at the definition of a consumer:
Consumer/con·sum·er: a person who buys goods and services
So If they aren’t buying the content they are reading than who is? The advertisers, whose ads consumers are trying to block, is who pays for the content on the sites.
I won’t go as far as to say that consumers who use ad blockers are stealing content, but if you really take a step back and look at it, this isn’t much better than pirating music online. At the end of the day the only people who are going to step up and tell consumers “No” is the people who have the most to lose; the publishers themselves. If, ad blocking was to become prominent across the internet many sites we now enjoy won’t exist. The sites that are still around will have to make drastic changes to how they monetize their sites including incorporating more native advertising or simply just charging consumers a subscription. There is a trickle down effect here and consumers would find that out the hard way.
Another argument for why people are using ad blockers is due to privacy concerns. They simply don’t want the websites they are visiting to know who they are or where they have been. I don’t see this being a valid argument due to the fact that most browsers incorporate settings to hide this data while surfing the web. You don’t need an ad blocker to do this for you.
However, this doesn’t let the publishers off the hook. They need to take heed to this warning before it is too late. Consumers don’t want advertisements that are overwhelming, distracting, and cumbersome. Many publishers need to take this into consideration and modify how their company looks at advertising and what ways they can improve the user experience. After all, surely there is some common ground somewhere, right?