Adblocking and publishers: 'Something's gotta give'

According to the latest estimates, 70 million people in the US will use an adblocker in 2016, a 34% increase over 2015.

By 2020, researchers also estimate that websites will lose more than $27 billion in worldwide ad revenue. How would you react if I told you that your business, which earns on average 20 to 40% in revenue after cost of goods sold, lost 23 to 30% of your revenue while your costs remain the same?

That’s the effect of adblockers on ad revenue. This is no joke.

The effect of adblocking on publishers

An ad found on the side of a website is part of the unspoken deal between publishers and users – users are to view online advertisements in exchange for free content. It’s through this arrangement that consumers have been able to enjoy free content for the last decade.

If publishers want to survive – and consumers want free content, something's gotta give

However, with the advent of adblocking software, which allows users to bypass viewing ads, this unspoken deal is at risk - and it will end up hurting both publishers and users. If consumers want to continue to enjoy free content, something needs to change – and fast.

What should we do?

To date, there are three fundamental approaches publishers have employed to getting back lost ad revenue – charging subscriptions, preventing adblockers outright, counteracting adblocking software with anti-adblocking software.

There are also those that are doing nothing, but they’ll be swimming with the fishes if they don’t act.

Perhaps the most aggressive move of all is charging a subscription fee to combat lost ad revenue, which is in large part due to adblocking.

This requires getting consumers who were receiving free content the day before to pay to view the content today. No short order.

Other publishers, such as Forbes, have banned users from using adblocking software. Last December, the business news site greeted desktop browser blocker users with a message on the welcome screen, asking them to disable their adblocker before visiting the site.

While not as aggressive as charging a subscription fee, many users were not pleased with this and felt it made them susceptible to security issues.  Then there are publishers like Wired, which offer users a choice – pay a subscription or view ads.

Lastly, there is the solution of employing anti-adblocking Software, which ensures that ads are viewable by users.

Something has to give

Systems can detect adblockers on a website, so they can bypass those adblockers in order to deliver traffic to ads. This is the least intrusive of all current solutions, and there are solutions, such as ReviveAds, that guarantee recuperated ad revenues.  

While we can agree that some ads are obnoxious and a nuisance to browse, we must also acknowledge that these ads are the livelihood for most sites.

For publishers, the approach adblocking companies have taken, such as AdBlock Plus, is that they don’t just block the ‘annoying’ ads, they block every single ad - even the ads that are creative and specifically geared toward the user.

If publishers want to survive – and consumers want free content, something's gotta give.

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