The rise of online ad blockers | DMA

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The rise of online ad blockers


Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) research shows that as much as 15% of online adults now use ad blockers, but this undermines publishers as ad blockers reduce their revenue and their ability to produce ad funded content.

Ad blockers allow consumers to easily block advertisements they find intrusive. In response, many websites block access to consumers using ad blockers.

In order to reverse this trend the IAB has introduced the LEAN principles, which are:

  • Light
  • Encrypted
  • Ad choice supported
  • Non-invasive

The IAB hopes publishers following these principles will mean consumers feel in control and won’t use ad blockers.

An IAB UK spokesperson said, “These are the principles that will help guide the next phases of advertising technical standards for the global digital advertising supply chain.

However, the DMA worries that as many publishers are not up-front about how their business models work, consumers do not necessarily understand that the ‘free’ content comes from ads.

Some publishers are transparent about how they use personal data to manage the ads that fund the content. For example, The Guardian produced ‘Why your data matters’ short video. Guardian customers understood and appreciated the move, which put them in control of their data and informed them of the Guardian’s funding model.

When consumers understand the value exchange, then they are willing to accept ads. They know that those ads fund the content they enjoy. Consumers can only realise this if publishers are open and transparent.

IAB UK attempted to address this problem with its ad blocking primer, which produced DEAL, another acronym as a recommended approach for publishers to connect with ad blocking consumers:

  • Detect ad blocking in order to start a conversation
  • Explain how ads fund content
  • Ask consumers to disable their ad-blocker
  • Lift restrictions or Limit access in response to consumer choices

The approach is a step in the right direction but ultimately there needs to be a significant change when dealing with consumers. People are empowered by technologies like ad blockers and so there must be a new conversation.

The rise of ad blockers is a part of a larger marketing and advertising problem, which is the loss of trust between consumers and organisations. Businesses must work harder to restore trust and be completely transparent. This is the only way businesses can show their customers what the benefits of advertisements and the data exchange is.

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