Point of View: Ad blocking's wake-up call

William Ratcliffe

During the past few months there has been a spike in ad-blocking articles. Faris Yakob talks about Adblocalypse and Shelly Palmer calls digital display ads the root of ad evil. In Forbes, Brian O'Kelley, CEO of AppNexus, suggests that "ad blocking may very well be the big internet story of 2016".

Scott Cunningham, senior vice president of technology and ad operations at IAB and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab, admits: "We messed up. As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience." L. E. A. N. is the IAB's solution to the ad-blocking crisis. Light, Encrypted, Ad-choice supported, Non-invasive ads are the proposed solutions.

The sheer volume of online ads, the disruptive nature of some formats (pre-roll) and low quality and creativity are most often cited as the key problems – and for good reason. As Stephen Whiteside reports in WARC's 'Trend Snapshot: Ad Blocking', disruption, security concerns, load speed reduction and resource use are the main drivers of ad blocking. However, 'ad relevance' only gets passing mention – even though it is the main component of user ad experience. People willingly pay attention to ads that are of interest to them.