Adblocking challenges

Blog Post

Adblocking challenges and what it means for advertisers and publishers

“Give me a print-style ad and I'll glance at it. Stuff it down my throat and I'll kill the video AND ignore your product.”

This was a comment on a recent article that spoke about ad blocking and the phenomenon of “auto playing videos”.

This topic has re-emerged in the past week after Apple’s developer conference in which they announced new iOS and Safari features. The features in question are the automatic prevention of automatically playing video ads and the disabling of ad tracking.

As both ad tracking and auto-play videos are valuable tools for online advertisers, we thought we take a closer look and delve into the world of ad blocking and ad tracking.

First of all, it is not just Apple that has plans to bake these blocking functions into their browser, Google quietly announced similar intentions, see this article.

Some people have already expressed some concern about these moves as they consider Apple and Google potentially interfering in the relationship between advertiser and consumer. The concern here is that it’s an incredibly fine line between protecting consumers and censoring rival ad companies. Apple and Google are diving into this fray headfirst, using their position as the owners of the biggest web browsers to regulate the ad industry. A wrong move could have devastating consequences.

There is an interesting website referenced by Google and Apple and that is the “Coalition for better ads” found at www.betterads.org , that endeavors to define ad standards based on experiences from consumers. This sounds very noble and time will tell how accurate and effective their guidelines will be. In the meantime, we see a lot of skepticism about these planned blocking features and the intentions of the coalition appearing in the comments of various online articles discussing these topics.

A common thread we also noticed in the comments is people asking “WHY”, stating there are a plethora of ad blocking tools available as browser plugins already, so why bake these features into the browser itself?

When we looked into finding some statistics on who is using these ad blockers today, we found a very interesting source – the 2017 Global Adblock Report  from a company called PageFair (www.pagefair.com) .

Some interesting observations include:

Desktop ad blocking is strong in the US, but mobile ad blocking is HUGE is Southeast Asia where a massive 94% of global mobile adblocking is found.

Main reasons people utilize Adblock software is depicted in this chart.

Reasons people deploy adblocking software

As you can see, the second largest reason is “Interruption”, which brings us back to the “Autoplaying videos” we mentioned earlier.

But not only advertisers are affected by ad blockers. Publishers have their challenges too. More and more publishers put up an” “adblock wall”, a warning that prevents the reader from viewing the website until they disable their adblocking software. The research conducted by PageFair shows that when this happens, 74% of users leave the website rather than take the step of disabling the adblocking software, especially older internet users (34 years and older).

Percentage people leaving a site when asked to disable their adblocking software

In conclusion

Some take aways here are:

  1. Advertisers should seriously consider whether to use autoplaying video or not. Consumers don’t like then, some will penalize the brand AND the large technology companies will take matters in their own hand and stop them from playing anyway.
  2. Publishers might want to reconsider the use of Adblock walls, or at least do their own research into the effects on potential readers. Turning away 74% of potential readers sounds like a large number.

For more information about how adblocking software can affect your business, contact us.