Several vendors including PageFair have the technology to display ads in a way that is not affected by blocking. In the future it is likely that major industry incumbents (such as SSPs and CDNs) will also gain this ability.
We believe that the ability to defeat blockers should not simply enable a return to the situation before adblocking. Hundreds of millions of users have rebelled against the status quo in advertising. We must listen to them.
Advertising can be better. Earlier this month PageFair drew together the first summit of global stakeholders including consumer groups, advertisers, publishers, and browsers to consider the form that advertising on the blocked Web should take. You can read AdAge coverage here.
The roundtable, which PageFair convened at Mozilla’s London office, included the World Federation of Advertisers, the European Commission, the World Economic Forum, Mozilla, IAB Europe, ISBA, the Worldwide Magazine Media Association (FIPP), the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, Digital Content Next (DCN), and others. The discussion focused on how to better respect users, support publishers, and provide value to advertisers.
The Four Points
The following is a synthesis of points that emerged (as a majority view):
- The user must have immediate tools to reject and to complain about advertising. This puts the consumer at the core of reform.
- There should be a more sustainable balance between ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ advertising on the Web. Rather than restore all ads we should display only a limited number of premium advertising slots. This will make a better impact for brands and clean up the web.
- Use of contextual targeting to establish ad relevance can be increased. This will end what some view as an over-reliance on behavioural tracking of users.
- Better metrics of advertising success are needed to reform the economics and quality of online advertising. This will end the race to the bottom.
Note: revised on 15 April 2016 following participant feedback.
These four points amount to a basis for a tentative concord among four key communities – consumer groups, advertisers, agencies, and publishers – about a responsible approach to advertising beyond blocking.
Agencies can have their cake and eat it
The Four Points, though radical, do not mark a painful departure for the advertising industry. It is true that large quantities of capital and other resources are being invested by agencies into the further development of personalised and captivating advertising. That is likely to continue.
But in parallel the Four Points provide agencies with a new and separate opportunity to respond to blockers with contextual targeting that does not track users, and with simple, respectful formats in an uncluttered part of the Web.
It is this parallelism – the ability of agencies to leverage the new opportunity of advertising beyond blocking without cannibalising their status quo business – that will give publishers an opportunity to sustain themselves beyond ad blocking.
And fundamental to this approach is an understanding that ad blockers are a new and valuable segment.
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