Major internet companies like Google may pleased that the French government told a major ISP that it must stop its automatic filtering of ads for subscribers.
However, make no mistake about it: the dispute over Free’s ad blocking is a reminder of what’s at stake as more and more consumers seek ways to opt out of online advertising.
Ad blocking software, of course, is not new. Publishers have watched its popularity rise over the years, and while there is debate over just how much revenue publishers lose each year to ad blocking, it’s widely seen as a significant threat.
With there being no reason to believe that the desire to block ads will diminish any time soon, publishers that depend heavily on advertising revenue must answer a simple question: how do we deal with this?
Here are four possible answers.
There are numerous reasons advertisers are pouring more money into native ads, and you can be sure that ad blocking is on the list of reasons. Native advertising, of course, isn’t a panacea.
Publishers that go too far and harm the user experience may find themselves dealing with far bigger problems (read: lost users), but implemented tastefully, native ads can help mitigate losses from ad blockers.
Ask users to open their wallets
Paid content is far from a sure bet, but publishers large and small are having success convincing meaningful numbers of users to open their wallets for content. That will increasingly make paid content worth exploring as part of an ad blocker strategy.
Serve your own ads
If you’re using popular ad networks and providers to serve your ads, defeating ad blocking software can be a significant challenge. If you’re sufficiently motivated, however, there may be a way to beat many ad blockers: serve your own ads.
While users will still be able to adjust their software to block your ads, you will at least have the consolation of knowing that your ads weren’t blocked by default.
Be a part of the solution, not the problem
There’s a debate to be had about the ethics of ad blocking, but one thing is hard to deny: publishers have been their own worst enemies when it comes to driving users to install ad blocking software.
For far too long, too many publishers have focused on maximizing ad inventory, not ad yield. The result: poor user experiences plagued by more ads, and more annoying ads.
The damage has been done, and while it’s unclear if and how publishers will be able to repair that damage, they can work to prevent further damage by ensuring that their ad inventory management is aligned with user experience.