User-Controlled Advertising in Digital Publishing

Admittedly, my reading experience of Baldur Bjarnason’s article on ad blocking was somewhat tainted because of his opening comment. At the end of the article, he writes, “All of the above is assuming ad blocking goes mainstream. If it doesn’t then this was all a flash in the pan and you all were foolish for worrying so much.” To this I responded that I wasn’t sure whether or not that many people actually bothered with ad blocking. I know that I do (because a friend of mine installed it after noting that I hadn’t done so yet), but I don’t actually know that many people who use it or who want to take the time to find out how to use it. I had forgotten about ad blocking all together; when I opened the next article, The Coming Book Wars: Apple vs. Amazon vs. Google vs. the U.S., a note came up that said, “This site has been known to show targeted messages to Adblock Plus users. Do you want Adblock Plus to hide targeted messages?” This made me think about Bjarnason’s article, that I had admittedly objected to in the beginning, and his words finally resonated with me. Of the people who actually bother with ad blocking software, which in my experience has been few (but growing), I doubt very many will take the additional time to figure out how to block the ads that have been overlooked by the software. If I, who overlooked this by closing the notification, represent anyone, I can assume that others will do the same. So Bjarnason’s has a point: If money is involved, the ad blockers will not win. Bjarnason says that most ad networks have pre-emptively planned their codes to bypass ad blockers. Of course they have. What’s more surprising to me is that no publisher has made it a serious priority to work around ad blockers. Like the ad producers, whether we like it or not, publishers are in the business of making money (to a certain extent). Why would they try to block ads when this could benefit them? I imagine that all attempts to transform the Internet into a for-profit platform have been unsuccessful. As such, advertising is a critical source of revenue. In this October 2015 Adweek article, the authors claim that digital publishers are the ones that have suffered most from Apple’s recent work with ad blocking apps. They also mention that the number of Americans using ad block software has increased by 48% in the last year. It appears the only solution for digital publishers is direct contact with consumers on the type of advertising they would like seeing, hence making it user-controlled advertising. This will likely prove difficult given that most consumers won’t want to be contacted regarding this sort of thing.

 

One Reply to “User-Controlled Advertising in Digital Publishing”

  1. This response offers a lot of preamble and opens up the author’s line of thinking, but does not seriously engage with the issues of advertising and ad blocking. More importantly, it does not offer us a specific response to the issue of ad blocking allowed on mobile devices, or to Bjarnason’s suggestion that it is not a big deal at all, since it will all sort itself out.

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