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Earlier this week we asked four digital marketing experts whether they were concerned about the rise of mobile ad blocking and what publishers can do to tackle the issue. 

In this follow-up Q&A we asked the same four people how they see the issue developing and what action publishers will need to take if ad blocking continues to grow. 

How do you see this issue developing?

Jon Williams, Marketing Director EMEA at Opera Mediaworks:

For now it looks like ad blocking is here to stay. Apple will continue to push advertisers away from its browser (where its makes no money from ads) and instead towards its apps, where it makes money through its iAD network. 

For publishers, it’s inevitable some will tackle the issue of ad blocking with the launch of paywalls, while others may follow The Guardian’s lead and align themselves with the likes of Facebook by producing more shareable content.

But there is a limit to what publishers can do.

The turn key moment for ad blocking will come when consumers wake up to the fact that they are going to have to start paying for content or view it in different mediums.

Once this becomes apparent we might start to see a retreat around ad blocking.

Naomi Hands, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Somo:

Ad blocking isn’t a disaster. TV didn’t destroy cinema and ad blocking won’t destroy mobile advertising.

It will, however, force business models to evolve. More publishers will adopt various forms of subscription models. 

But ad blocking will also inspire creativity and contextual relevance within advertising formats and so enhance the user experience.

Tim Dunn, Director of Strategy at Isobar:

There are a number of ways around the issue, but none of them are particularly cheap or simple to implement and all of them favour larger and more established web players rather than the startup blogger trying to build an audience from scratch.

This will very likely have a knock-on effect on the democracy of the web, concentrating eyeballs and influence in larger mainstream players.

Andrew Girdwood, Media Innovations Director at DigitasLBi:

We’ll see more native advertising, which will keep a focus on appropriate disclosure.  

We’ve already seen the Guardian ask for ‘donations’ as a supplement, and in the States the likes of CBS and Hulu restrict access to content for those using ad blockers. 

There’s also been a rise in ad blocker blockers. It’s certain we’ll continue to see publishers experiment, test and learn.

It’s unlikely there will be magic wand solution, however, and that’s one of the reasons why it pays to watch the rise of ad blockers closely.

Mobile ad blocking

What action can publishers take?

Tim Dunn believes there are four key ways in which publishers can respond to temper the threat of ad blocking:

  • Move to apps.
  • Paid content.
  • Micropayments.
  • Native advertising. 

Move to apps: If you agree that the opening of ad blocking into iOS9 is a direct attack on Google’s display market, then apps are the main weapon. Within apps the publisher can control the entire experience, and display networks will still be able to work there. 

Of course, the more apps that are downloaded, the better it is for Apple, and the more opportunities it will have to deliver...

Paid content: Publishers will need to think about tiered subscriptions, or withholding parts of their content for subscribers only.

Micropayments: Right now there is no widely accepted standard for how pay-per-page works on the web. A one-click solution for users to donate is well overdue and is now possible with technology such as TouchID. 

Micropayments would reduce the barriers of commitment and data entry that any form of subscription demands.

Native advertising: The opportunities for more integrated advertising will become increasingly important. Most mobile advertising already takes this form. 

Publishers large and small will now do better having content partnerships or product placement deals rather than network deals. Most successful bloggers already operate on this model.

Have your say...

How do you think ad blocking will develop in the coming months and years, and what action should publishers take to overcome the problem? Let us know in the comments below.

Jack Simpson

Published 8 October, 2015 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

252 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Logan Parker, Consultant at Shuttly

Consumers are voting with their browsers by using ad blocking, and publishers shouldn't engage in a race to the bottom to subvert them. This is only going to result in a tit-for-tat.

Instead, publishers should first understand the extent of how their audiences are using ad blocking (which visitors, from where, on what platforms), and then develop a strategy using above-board methods to recover the lost ad revenue. These include serving ad-blocking-accepted ad units and creating different user experiences for ad-blocking visitors (withholding premium content, showing messages, etc.).

Mezzobit has created a free tool to permit website operators to use Google Analytics to understand the magnitude of the problem. Just knowing that the sitewide ad blocking is X% isn't enough; publishers need to better understand how ad blocking correlates with high-value audience segments.

over 1 year ago

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Joe Walton, Marketing Assistant at Brightpearl

As old-school digital advertising becomes more obsolete, advertising creeps further into consumers' favourite content: our games, news and videos - watering them all down and breaking down trust.

over 1 year ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Like most people, I don't use ad blocking and don't plan to use it. I/we avoid the excesses of marketing, not by using technology, but by avoiding sites that give a poor user experience. We are not the problem, yet many of the the "solutions" mentioned here make things worse for us.

If we're going to get adverts, *and* have to do extra work in buying subscriptions/ installing apps etc. then I expect quite a lot of pushback against sites that do this.

over 1 year ago

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Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Insight at Jack Wills

The ad blocking debate is an interesting one because while publishers have made huge amounts of money selling display ads across their sites over the past 10 years, the evidence that the bulk of these are remotely effective is slim.

As a result, in a lot of cases, users using ad blockers is simply helping to block a wealth of these often unseen or unengaged with ads.

Yes it presents a problem for publishers but ultimately should they not really have been spending the past 10 years improving their advertising to make it less obtrusive and frustrating for customers?

The other interesting point is that a lot of these ad blockers are allowing certain sites / advertisers to be white listed which could be an interesting development with a need to prove that your advertising is relevant to the users you want to serve it to...

over 1 year ago

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