Adblocking is an Existential Threat

August 12, 2016

Can adblocking kill the free internet? "It's inconceivable, I think, that we would simply just allow this threat from adblocking to continue without actually having a strategy," says IAB UK's Steve Chester. "It's something which we will have to develop. I don't underestimate that it's potentially an existential threat."

The IAB study looked at how many people would turn off adblocking if requested to by a site as a condition to view content. Of those that are using adblocking software, 64% have seen notices on a website requesting that they turn off their adblocker. Over half (54%) said that they would sometimes temporarily switch off the software if it was the only way to access the content. For 18-24 year olds, 73% are willing to turn off adblocking.

The IAB study showed that 20% of people who have tried an adblocker no longer use one. The main reason is because of changing to a new device but the second most popular reason, not being able to access content, gives hope to publishers and advertisers that they can eventually change the mindset of people.

"The IAB believes that an ad funded internet is essential for providing revenue to publishers so they can continue to make their content, services and applications widely available at little, or no cost," stated IAB UK's CEO, Guy Phillipson. "We believe ad blocking undermines this approach and could mean consumers have to pay for content they currently get for free."

"Part of the solution to tackle adblocking lies in making consumers more aware of the consequences, which seems like it's starting to filter through," Phillipson added. "If they realize 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."

"More and more publishers are initiating what IAB calls "detection-notice-choice-and constraint" regimes," says Rothenberg. "They are installing scripts that enable them to see when consumers coming to their sites have ad-blockers installed; they are providing notice to consumers about that and about publishers' business models, which largely require advertising to support otherwise free content."

"They are offering consumers choices – to turn off their ad-blockers, to pay a subscription fee, or another alternative," he added. "And absent one of those choices, the publishers are constraining consumers' access to content, reinforcing the immense value of what they deliver."
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