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Adblocking: the sky hasn't fallen

News, 22 September 2015

NEW YORK: The advertising industry does face a problem with adblocking but it is not as serious as media coverage might suggest according to the chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Randall Rothenberg told the Wall Street Journal that the current furore followed a well-established pattern and was more sound than substance.

"You have well-funded vendors come in with lots of money, marketing their solutions to a problem that has actually been there for years, and the marketing money finds its way into PR and the media," he said. "The sky hasn't fallen."

He conceded that there was a real issue at hand but professed himself unworried about whether advertising could continue to negotiate digital channels.

But, he added, "I am concerned – very, very concerned – that costs of ads will go up and up and up from this unethical obstruction."

Even the developers of adblocking software are having second thoughts, it appears, as the man behind the top-selling Peace ad blocker pulled it from the Apple App Store at the end of last week after only two days on sale.

"Ad-blocking is a kind of war," Marco Arment wrote on his blog: "a first-world, low-stakes, both-sides-are-fortunate-to-have-this-kind-of-problem war, but a war nonetheless, with damage hitting both sides."

He had concluded, he said, that he didn't feel good about his role and the blunt way Peace blocked all ads, although he still believed that ad blockers were necessary and that a more nuanced approach was required.

While Rothenberg would never say ad blockers were necessary he did admit that the industry had "definitely over time gummed up the advertising experience and web pages with all kinds of analytics and pixels and tags and all kinds of things".

And that he, said, was something the industry could and should address.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Marco.org; additional content by Warc staff