By Adam Fraser
The cat and mouse games between publishers and ad blockers continues.
As I have previously written, ad blockers have represented a growing threat to the business models for online publishers, as consumers increasingly turn their backs on intrusive and unhelpful digital advertising. Recent studies showed 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile users are using ad blockers.
Now the 800lb gorilla has entered the room. Facebook has announced it will make it harder for ad blockers to determine what is sponsored and what is not sponsored on Facebook. “It will be really hard for ad-blockers to distinguish what is an ad and what is not an ad,” said Andrew Bosworth, VP-ads and business platform, Facebook.
With advertising revenue driving over 95% of Facebook’s income it clearly has a significant incentive to ensure paying advertisers can hit their intended audience on the Facebook platform. Facebook also claims blocking ads impacts the user experience as users want to see relevant ads they are interested in (I find this argument a bit of a stretch).
A form of nuclear arms race continues with the ad blocking sector now expected to respond, having dubbed the changes anti user. “Cat and mouse games are a waste of time,” said Till Faida, CEO of Eyeo, the software-maker behind Adblock plus . “At the end of the day user choice will prevail on the web.”
In a nice PR sleight of hand, Facebook balanced its announcement about blocking the ad blockers by also announcing a range of measures to give users more control around the ads it sees.
In a study commissioned by Facebook, the main reasons consumers use ad blockers are avoiding disruptive ads (69%), slowing down their browsing experience (58%) and security/Malaware (56%). Whilst the underlying consumer demand exists to block ads, the tech arms race will continue; an important battle even for a media company of the strength of Facebook and not one to be under-estimated.