Today, the issue is the use of ad blocking software to stop banner ads from popping up on screens. Digital marketers already struggling with viewability, ad fraud and low ad-response rates are shrivelling in the cold realisation that their audience may all go away.
I say, bring it on.
Ad blocking could be the best thing that has happened to the ad industry in years. It will make the remaining communications universe work better, encourage marketers to be more relevant and give publishers an incentive to back down from too much clutter.
But before we evaluate the positives, it’s worth asking how far ad blocking will go.
This latest “crisis” was kicked off by an Adobe and PageFair report that found that the use of ad blocking tools is, well, way up. Two hundred million people now block digital ads, about 7 per cent of the 2.8bn humans online — up from 30m ad blockers just four years ago. And there are pockets of heavier usage. In the United States, one in seven people obstructs ads online, but in Oregon, the state with the highest use, it’s one in six. In Greece, 38 per cent use ad blockers.
Play it forward, and very soon one in three global online users may block digital ads, driven primarily by worry of how marketers are using their private data.
Behind the scenes, a major tech player is stoking this. Apple announced at its latest development conference that the newest edition of its mobile operating software, iOS 9, will support Safari ad blocking. This is a super-clever move, because in one swoop, Apple is “improving” the user experience while driving marketers by necessity to apps, where Apple makes about $20bn a year in “services category” revenue. Apple’s move also slaps its rival Google, which lives on browser-based advertising. Apple saying ad blocking helps users is like Coke saying it helps you by not selling Pepsi in its vending machines.
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