The details are still being hammered out, but the aim is to provide an alternative to the approaches taken so far by various publishers, which give people two options: pay up or put up with the ads in their current form. The Guardian is trying a third way that “puts the user in control,” according to the publisher’s global revenue director Tim Gentry.
“Offering a customised ad experience is an area I’m most interested in, and one in which we’ve yet to experiment. I don’t know how we do it, or how exactly it will work yet because it’s that early, but it’s a fascinating area to explore,” he said.
Time is of the essence. Last week, figures emerged from the IAB and YouGov showing ad blocking products in the UK is on the rise, with 18 per cent of UK adults (sample size: 2,052 people) now using them, up from 15 per cent in June.
Carat’s global chief digital officer James Harris said the fact the publisher is eyeing more customised ad experiences is admirable, given the rise of ad blocking is partly due to the industry “hitting people with bad-quality ads numerous times, via programmatic trading.”
Creating bespoke ad experiences depends on having the data to drive them. The Guardian would need an “identifier,” which it could take from its registered user base, though it would potentially need to add third-party data to get the necessary scale, according to Harris.
“The ambition is a good one potentially. The Guardian’s strength is always in its brand, though its scale play is more of a challenge, and it would need scale for this,” he said, adding that the Guardian’s content studio, Guardian Labs, could be tapped for the new approach.
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