Welcome to the Age of Ad Blocking

In an age where users have grown to be frustrated with advertisements, it therefore comes to no surprise that ad blocking software has inevitably made its way into the mainstream. But in the end, it all amounts to this simple question: is there actually anything wrong with cutting out the ads?

The two-sided story

Modern day internet connections have allowed access to super speed browsing, yet we’ve all still experienced that impatient finger tap whilst waiting for a vacant web page to load. This is due to online advertising that unashamedly clogs your browser, drains battery life and even collects private data.

However, this isn’t the only side to the story. Despite advertising’s restless and ambitious plan to protrude itself onto every web page, which is exactly why ad blocking software has become increasingly popular amongst its users, these particular ad blocking softwares have been criticised for robbing publishers - and others - of vital revenue. 

So there you have it; on one side users have become defeated by ads that slow page load times on the internet - especially on mobile, and on the other there has been a loss of revenue for certain publishers. 

Ad blocking is growing globally

The Internet Advertising Bureau’s latest report of ad blocking showed that 22% of British web users had an ad blocker installed to strip ads from digital content. This was up from 18% just three months earlier - a figure that rises to almost half of 18 to 24-year-olds. In a larger perspective, that’s about 9.2 million of the 41.8 million UK adults who regularly use the internet. 

“It’s unsurprising to see ad blocking on the rise, as the digital advertising industry as a whole has been failing to keep in mind that it’s a value exchange,” said Mike Colling, founder of the media agency MC&C. “Advertising in exchange for content. Except content is everywhere and so less valuable to consumers – meaning the volume and nature of advertising must adjust.” 

Consequently, as the popularity of ad-blocking software rises so does the threat for advertisers and publishers. This obstructive software cuts a vital stream of publisher income which, in all essences, makes it harder for them to create content that the audience desires.

Colling further said that a new “modern digital etiquette” is needed to balance monetising media and its ad-disapproving customers. So what needs to change?

“Part of the solution to tackle ad-blocking lies in making consumers more aware of the consequences, which seems like it’s starting to filter through,” said Guy Phillipson, Chief Executive of IAB UK. “If they realise it means they can’t access content or that to do so requires paying for it, then they might stop using ad-blockers. It requires reinforcing this trade-off message – ads help to fund the content they enjoy for free.”

What’s next?

Publishing and advertising industries need to consider a method that provides clear value for their audience; in practice, this means producing relevant and engaging content for that specific user. By increasing the relevance, quality and overall effectiveness of ads, then the number of ads viewed by the user will be significantly reduced.

This isn’t the end of the internet…it’s simply a turning point.


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