AdBlock Wars Are Fruitless

The ridiculous escalation of the #AdblockWars is a race between publishers and consumers that will lead nowhere good. There can’t be a winner, and in fact the current situation is a lose-lose-lose. The obvious first loser is the consumer, who loses free content. The marketer also loses, because she loses a connection to the customer and a way to get her message out, and the publisher simply goes out of business. Very few all-around-lose situations exist; they obviously self-destruct.

Facebook has already opted out of the war by telling people that advertising is part of their product, and if they want the product, they have to deal with it. They have circumvented ad blockers. Facebook will make the best effort it can to keep ads relevant and non-interruptive, but it does not even attempt to say that free content without advertising (even user-generated content) is possible. And since Facebook is the largest audience on the planet, it has the ability to educate consumers in a way no other publisher can.

We understand the way consumers feel about ad blockers, because we’ve been around in this industry since 1999, at first serving ads for publishers, and now offering a private platform on which brands can purchase high impact formats and run them on a network of premium publishers.

As we evolved with the industry, we realized that digital advertising was running a race to the bottom by depending on performance ads for revenue. Performance ads may work for search, but they don’t work for the average publisher. Or for the average advertiser, for that matter.

We now know that cluttering up pages with pop-ups and page takeovers just doesn’t work, even if consumers would continue to tolerate it. Years ago we advocated for a better metric than CTR, although our customers continued to demand it.

In the past two years, we’ve argued for a different metric than reach and frequency, too, because mobile is a completely different medium than desktop, and both are different from print. On mobile, without frequency caps and with too wide a reach, advertising achieves the opposite of what it intends: it makes consumers hate the brand.

Nevertheless, blocking ads is a danger to the ecosystem, and consumers must be educated to understand that. The industry has been having this discussion, and now we are advocating for a new advertising ecosystem in which

1)Most digital ads are brand ads

2)There are fewer of them on every page

3)Brands pay more for each ad, and not try to buy mere numbers for pennies. Remnant ads are killing the market.

4)Consumers  know more about the economics of digital publishing.