Our industry’s rather notorious for acting like Doug the dog from Up:
In recent months, the industry has shown a propensity to quickly drop everything and froth at the mouth while crying that the sky is falling because of viewability, fraud, reviewapocalypse, anything shiny, etc.
Now, it’s ad blocking’s turn. I’m not discounting that ad blocking isn’t a big deal. It is. But, when a huge function of your job is to monitor the industry news, it can be fun to judge industry-wide freak-outs as being poorly formed, henny-penny hand-wringing.
That being said, there is some amazing talent who cover our field. Here are a few thoughtful articles about Ad blocking and its implications (as well as some context):
Context: How Big of a Deal Is Ad Blocking?
Pretty big! At least, according to research from PageFair and Adobe. An initial report came out that sent shivers down the spines of the industry (luckily most of this industry wears blazers, so the shivers were protected.) It found:
1. Ad blocking is estimated to cost publishers nearly $22 billion during 2015.
2. There are now 198 million active ad block users around the world.
3. Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in the last 12 months.
4. US ad blocking grew by 48% to reach 45 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015.
And it freaked out the industry. A follow-up story by Alex Kantrowitz, a great advertising reporter now at BuzzFeed , offered a counter-point: Widely Cited Ad Blocking Study Finding $21.8 Billion Loss Is Incorrect, but the chatter had already begun.
What Are The Pieces That Drove The Original Narrative?
The Awl published a seminal piece by Casey Johnston (Welcome to the Block Party) that explored the concept of ad blocking and what it meant both for the journalism industry and for our responsibility as readers. But, it served to bring the concepts of ad blocking into the vernacular. It’s a great piece and lit the internet afire in mid-September (well, certain discussion boards on Reddit).
At the same time, there were other thought-provoking pieces that came out that weren’t as mainstream-friendly. Here are a few:
1. The Verge: Welcome to hell: Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook and the slow death of the web-Nilay Patel’s examination of the ecosystem that’s led us here
2. Fortune: Publishers only have themselves to blame for the ad blocking apocalypse-Mathew Ingram examines the crisis from a publisher perspective
A True Mainstreaming of Ad blocking
There’s enough chatter about ad blocking that more and more of it is going mainstream.
1. New York Times: Farhad Manjoo explored the joy of installing ad blockers from the perspective of the end user: Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web (NYT Bonus: Testing how much ads actually annoy you with real examples from different sites)
2. Howard Stern: The famed Host talked about ad blocking on the air, which was weird. It seemed incongruent to have The King of All Media actually talking about the conversation about the technical underpinnings of the media, but there it was!
What is the Consensus? All Over the Map
There is a proliferation of apps like Peace, which promised to provide an ad blocked experience for iPhone users. And, there are the creators of apps like Peace, who promised to provide an ad blocked experience for iPhone users, only to pull it off of the market because of the harm it might do.
There are bellicose rants against ad blocking in Advertising Age from industry stalwarts like Randall Rothenberg, and there are industry representatives pointing out that, just yet, it hasn’t really had any impact on their businesses, as reported by the WSJ’s Mike Shields.
There are articles in eMarketer that point out that baby boomers don’t make purchases on their phones (boo!), but lag way behind younger users in adopting ad blocking (yay!), so, pick your poison!
Listen, Ad blocking is a lot of things to a lot of people. To an annoyed user, it’s a welcome relief. To a publisher, it’s a sign to explore other avenues for revenue. To a brand, it’s a warning shot that they need to adapt. To many a journalist, it’s fodder for a thinkpiece.
It’s definitely an interesting development and one we’ll be paying attention to, and in the coming weeks, we’ll be working to explain why LiveIntent is in a uniquely advantageous position. After all, being a smarter way to market and advertise in email means doing so in a way that can be successful in a world with ad blocking by respecting the consumer.