How Not to Adblock Yourself

What you need to know beforehand

Content creators and online marketers, this is the time you face your biggest fear – the loss of revenue. OK, you might have great content, a large social base and a popular website – all that but your revenue from ads keeps dropping. Don’t worry, it’s not you – it’s the adblock movement! This has become one of the biggest trends online, accelerating itself as the time passed. So, why you should fear that user that doesn’t bring you revenue? Well, because, in the not-so-far past, any web visitor that wasn’t interacting with your calls to action eventually brought you some money indirectly from advertising. What about now?

adblock used on the web graphic

Studying the flow – Adblocking today

In 2012, a study by ClarityRay revealed that, over the top-tier publishers in the US and EU, 100 million impressions were blocked, approximately 9.26% of all impressions. Also, ‘The likelihood that someone is using an ad blocker varies significantly by browser – Firefox users are the most likely to use a blocker, followed by Safari (the desktop version) and then Chrome.’

By following PageFair’s annual adblocking statistics we find out that the adblocking market is doubling about 20 months. In June 2015, there were 198 million desktop adblock users meaning the ad revenue blocked reached $21.8bn. In the same period, there were 45 million mobile adblock users in the US only.

From PageFair’s study

And as we’ve come to mobile, we should talk more about it, as it is the main market today (by a small percentage). At least 419 million people are blocking ads on smartphones, 22% of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users. In March 2016, 408 million people used one of the 45 adblocking browsers on their moblie devices and 738K users of in-app adblocking apps. Although Play Store has previously banned in-app adblocking apps violating policies, VPN-based adblocking apps are currently skirting these rules. As stated there, some publishers prepared themselves for this adblocking trend. They thought that advertising on Facebook and Instagram would be their salvation, with no app to reach that area. They were wrong. These platforms are no longer immune.

The mobile market is one of the stakes

From the ever-growing mobile market, 36% of Asia-Pacific area uses some kind of Adblock, Making China one of the largest users out there. AdblockPlus officials stated that ‘There are apparently 159 million people who block ads on their mobile devices in China.’ But recently China issued its Internet Advertising Interim Rules, with their Article 16, which bans any kind of ad blocking. Its English translation sounds like this:

Regarding Internet Advertising activities, the following acts are prohibited:

(1) Providing or using applications, hardware, etc that intercept, filter, cover, fast-forward, or otherwise restrict data used for advertising by others;

(2) Using network access, network devices, or applications to disrupt the normal transmission of advertising data, tampering with or blocking other businesses’ advertisements, or loading of unauthorized ads;

(3) Using false statistics or broadcasting of false results, including misleading values, to pursue illegitimate benefits or harm the interests of others.

Don’t forget, a recent breach in Android security by a malware created false ad-clicks on the Asian market. So this is the WORST thing that could happen to them, becoming a law on September 1st.

What about the user – what does he think?

Well, what is the most common desktop case of adblocking? It’s becoming everyday a certitude that an user of Firefox on a Linux machine is using the AdblockPlus addon. With 300 million downloads, they are the most popular extension; they have stated that, probably there are at least 3 million active daily users on Firefox.

OK, we’ve seen the numbers, what about the general thinking?

‘A survey of AdBlock Plus users found that while 21 percent said they never want to see any ads, the other 79 percent said advertising is acceptable as it’s not too disruptive.’ (source: PCWorld). So the trend-changing move must be the non-intrusive ads. Both AdblockPlus and Mozilla are actively involved in this – they try to create a better Internet. For the moment it might seem as another way for them to make money by unblocking some ads. Another solution is proposed by Chris Llewellyn, CEO of International Federation of Periodical Publishers (FIPP):

‘Adblocking is an exceptionally important issue facing all digital content creators. Blocking the ad blockers at the point of engagement with websites is an option in the short run, but in the long run the solution probably lies in advertising that moves away from clutter, from CPM-based selling, to premium solutions.’

That means, for the long term, that we have no way but creating quality ads. For the short term we should make comprehensive quality content with convincing calls to action.

The moral battle of being an adblock user

OK, all of us that interact with this article are content creators or marketers. And, most likely, are using some king of adblocking software to protect ourselves of malware and bad commercials too. I do. So, while supporting our rights of keeping our property safe, how are we going to monetize our work these days? The question is rather a moral interior fight. It seems that we are obliged to pick a side and quit being equal to the other. To be an active supporter of ads or adblock soft. Why shouldn’t we fight instead the lousy ads and their creators. Why shouldn’t we support privacy while convincing big brands to offer non-targeted ads? Why shouldn’t we? That is my question for you today. Please answer to it for yourselves rather for me.

Until the next time, share this post and comment your thoughts.


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