Ad blocking worries increase

2 September 2013
NEW YORK: Online publishers and brands that use digital advertising could see ad viewability decline further in future due to tech advances and rising usage of blocking software.

A new gadget, the AdTrap, from mobile antivirus software firm Bluepoint Security, sits between the internet connection and the router, and removes video, text, and banner advertising before content reaches a device. This is an advance on existing ad blockers that work as browser plug-ins or external software, so limiting their operation to that browser or a single computer.

Meanwhile, a recent survey by PageFair, a company measuring the cost of ad blocking to publishers, claimed that around 23% of browsers had an ad-blocking tool. It cited the example of one of its clients, whose site suffered from a 25% ad blocking rate at a cost of $500,000 a year, to highlight the damage the software can do to digital ad viewability.

Based on current trends, PageFair estimated that the popularity of ad blocking would increase by half over the next five years so that 30% of browsers would have an ad blocking tool by 2018. It also noted that the extent of ad blocking on any given site was directly related to the technical ability of its audience.

"It's a vicious cycle," Neil O'Connor, PageFair CEO, told Computerworld. "Ads are becoming more aggressive to capture eyeballs, but that forces more people to install ad-blocking software. It's a lose-lose situation."

Bluepoint, however, says it is working with publishers and advertisers to create an option that would allow users to opt-in to select ads and even get paid for viewing them.

"It's about finding that delicate balance in turning that ad firehouse into a straw through an incentive system," Chad Russell, Bluepoint CEO, told Advertising Age.

Meanwhile, AdBlock, a popular software ad blocker, has launched a crowdfunding campaign which will pay for banner ads and video commercials that encourage people to use its product to block ads.

The New York Times suggested, however, that in the long-term online advertising faced bigger problems than ad blocking. The tracking of consumers means that an individual ad has become relatively less important, with all that implies for agencies.

At the same time, corporations are expected to communicate directly, and less expensively, with consumers in future, often using their own products.

"They will connect with their customers from all sorts of places," said Marc Benioff, chief executive of Salesforce, a producer of sales management software. "Canon from inside an Internet-connected camera; Toyota from inside a connected car."

Data sourced from Ad Age, PageFair, Computerworld, PC World, New York Times; additional content by Warc staff
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