Ad Blocking

The Rise of Ad Blocking and What This Means for Marketers and Consumers Alike

If you have upgraded to the latest software on your smart phone or heard a friend talking about a recent online experience, the topic of ad blockers may have come up in conversation. What are they exactly? Ad blockers usually come in the form of a browser extension, preventing banners, popups, and other types of ads from appearing in your browser. This creates a less cluttered web-surfing experience that eliminates virtually all ads from websites, videos and social media. You may see it as a huge win, but marketers and advertisers are worried about how online revenues will take a hit due to this growing trend.

What else do ad blockers do? 

Ad blockers can also protect from harmful malware, an abbreviated term meaning “malicious software.” Worms, spyware and viruses gain access to computers without the owners knowing to destroy systems and capture sensitive information. With the newest Apple iOS 9 update, ad blocking is even making its way to mobile devices.

In a recent study into Android devices, cybersecurity firm Lookout found that many apps downloaded from third-party app stores are infected with adware that digs deep and destroys phones, often beyond repair. Ad blockers apps like Adblock Plus will block ads and protect from websites that are known to be infected with malware.

WHAT does ad blocking mean for marketers?

With 198 million Internet users around the world with ad blocking software, close to $22 billion in ad revenue has been lost, reducing click-through rates and creating concern for web publishers and content creators alike. For small companies who rely on the income from online advertising, this results in them sharing less content on their websites or raising subscription prices to combat costs.


Some nonprofits are taking a stand against ad blocking. UNICEF, a children’s rights and emergency relief organization has launched a banner ad campaign that targets those with ad blockers installed. With messages like “Children’s rights should never be blocked,” the organization is working to convey to Internet users that ad blockers are negatively impacting the agency’s outreach and fundraising efforts.


UNICEF banner ad appearing on ad blocking browsers of a Swedish news-site 

While you may find a website asking you to disable ad blockers through popup messages, many companies and websites are following the lead of Buzzfeed by creating sponsored content that is more subliminal than traditional online advertising. The sponsored posts below show how websites can couple content with relevant advertisers in order to continue generating online revenue. Sponsored content is less intrusive than traditional popup and banner ads, creating a more streamlined experience for website visitors.

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is there a compromise for ad blocking?

Companies and websites like Reddit and even Adblock Plus have come together to form the Acceptable Ads Manifesto, a collation created to rid the Internet of obnoxious, blinking, intrusive ads that we all love to hate. Understanding that ads allow for free access to websites, the group has come up with guidelines for “Acceptable Ads” that serve to create a better Internet environment for everyone. Those interested in getting behind the cause can sign a petition, which currently has close to 11,000 supporters.

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Elements of the Acceptable Ads Manifesto

While many are likely to continue installing ad blockers on their computers, tablets and mobile devices, it’s up to marketers to change the landscape of online advertising. Although virtually everyone is online in the Digital Age, native advertising must be used to create a natural flow of information and media consumption. Who will have to make the biggest adjustment when it comes to online ad trends? Will it be consumers or the marketers looking to attract them?


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