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Publishers differ on ad blocking tactics

News, 18 February 2016

GLOBAL: US and mainland European publishers tend to take a more hardline approach to ad blocking than their UK counterparts, as a new study reveals significantly more of them would use technology that bypasses blocking software to deliver ads.

The report from anti-ad blocking company Sourcepoint was based on survey responses from more than 150 global publishers, including comScore's Top 50 Digital Publishers. It found that around six in ten would opt to serve ads even if ad blockers were present.

But just 52% of UK publishers backed this strategy, compared to 59% of European ones and 64% of US media owners.

The preferred method of UK publishers, chosen by 62%, was to invite users to uninstall the software, The Drum reported.

Further regional differences emerged as regards locking content. More than half of UK and mainland Europe publishers – 52% and 56% respectively – said they would stop users of ad blocking software from viewing any content; conversely, more than half of US publishers (53%) were not interested in taking this approach.

But most publishers on both sides of the Atlantic – three quarters or more – were opposed to putting up paywalls as a way of thwarting consumers with ad blocking software.

"Publishers accept there are a number of reasons why users install ad blocking technology and therefore different solutions are available to reach key audiences," Ben Barokas, Sourcepoint CEO, pointed out.

There has long been an implicit transaction between user and publisher, he noted, but that needed to change. "We need to make an explicit transaction between content creator and content consumer," he told Beet.tv recently.

"We need to have a conversation and engage the user around how they would like to compensate the publisher," he said, whether that was through the consumption of standardised or customised advertising or straightforward payment to avoid ads altogether.

"What's important is that there is that transaction and that it occurs transparently," he said. The fact that is isn't currently taking place is partly due to what he called "friction" in the ecosystem.

"Content creators don't want to provide additional friction to the user in order to have them be party to the transaction," he noted. 


So publishers need to create "just the right amount of friction, so that users understand that they are party to a transaction yet it's not over-burdening to them to actually choose the payment method".

Data sourced from The Drum, Beet.tv; additional content by Warc staff