How to please customers at the intersection of advertising and ad blockers

Cartoon of out of work journalist who lost his job do to ad blockers hiding advertisements
Cartoon of out of work journalist who lost his job do to ad blockers hiding advertisements

Ad blockers.

It is yet another hot topic within digital publishing. Something else for the boardroom to put to the top of the priority list, and for the digital resistance to use as an excuse to ignore digital for a little while longer.

This one really takes the biscuit though. We have been giving away our content for free for many years, and ad blockers have been around for many years. In allowing access to free content, the industry has received a lot of criticism. Just have a beer with a printer to get that barrage.

The user, always referred to as the “customer,” then gets angry and annoyed because you placed ads next to their content. Bring down a paywall, and they think you have taken away their human right to free news.

God forbid that you put any advertising into a forum. They will go crazy at you! Have a look at your own data, and you will probably see you have more ad blockers running on strong forums than on any of your other sites.

Now the providers of mobile technology are making it even easier for their users to block advertising against content that they consume. So much for partnerships.

The conversations that I have had about this range somewhere between outrage and empathy. So if my conversations are polar on the subject, what is the industry going to do?

Ad blockers will grow, not because people don’t want to see the advertising, but because of the propaganda fallout from the corporate war from the leading technology platforms. We, as free premium content providers, are stuck in the crossfire.

You could always hit them with native content. That’s great if you publish it yourself in-stream; not so good when that needs to be delivered more and more programmatically.

Maybe the only way is to pay the ad-blocking tech vendors to let your site through the barrier – just make sure you call them “Godfather.”

So after all that, what’s left? Surely the industry has to step up and be honest with its users – its “customers” – that it is a business. Should they block people using ad blockers and turn them into real customers?

If you are working at your RPM strategy, you’ll be very concerned by this. If, however, your plan is to get them to pay for the content and don’t need the advertising revenue, you’re a very happy person right now.

One thing is for sure: Technology will find a way, although we might be more likely to find water on Mars.

About Wayne Morgan

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