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Ad blocking at 'inflection point'

News, 08 September 2015

NEW YORK: Ad blocking has been steadily rising up the industry's agenda during 2015 and has now reached a stage at which it can no longer be ignored, according to a leading industry figure.

"It's become a very important issue, and I think the IAB is doing a good job of trying to get ahead of it, although I don't know anybody that's really ahead of it," said David Moore, chairman of the IAB Tech Lab's board of directors and president of WPP Digital.

"It had to get big enough to be an important issue, and I think we've reached that inflection point," he told Advertising Age.

Just what can be done about it is another matter, however, as evidenced by some of the ideas put forward at an IAB meeting in July.

"I advocated for the top 100 websites to, beginning on the same day, not let anybody with ad blockers turned on [to view their content]," said Moore. He added that IAB members present had thought it "a good idea but the possibility of pulling it off [was] slim."

The option of suing software providers has not been ruled out, as Moore explained that ad blockers "are interfering with websites' ability to display all the pixels that are part of that website, [and] arguably there's some sort of law that prohibits that". But he stressed that much work remained to be done "to assess whether that's a viable option".

Earlier this year, two German broadcasters lost a lawsuit they had taken out against Eyeo, the maker of AdBlock Plus, the fourth time the company has successfully defended itself in court.

At the time, an Eyeo spokesperson insisted the business wanted to work with the industry "to encourage non-intrusive ads, discover new ways to make ads better and press forward to a more sustainable internet ecosystem".

Barry Lowenthal, president of The Media Kitchen, a media buying agency, recently argued that practitioners were simply going to have to "reinvent advertising" when everyone started blocking ads.

Moore described the current IAB approach as a search for the most viable option before seeking the input of its members. "Once that occurs, I think you'll see a strategy emerge before the end of the year," he said.

Data sourced from Advertising Age, the Guardian; additional content by Warc staff