The Fight Against Ad-Blocking Intensifies: German Publisher says Pay Cash or View Advertising

by Matt Klassen on October 14, 2015

There is an ongoing fight between online advertising and the exponential rise in the deployment of ad-blocking software, one that threatens to undermine the economic framework much of the Internet is built on. While online advertisers and web publishers look for ways to circumvent these barriers, challenged now on how to effectively reach and engage the end user, a German publishing company has taken a significant step in advancing this advertising war: it has made viewing advertising obligatory for interacting with any of its online content.

Germany’s Axel Springer publishing company has banned the use of ad-blockers from its Bild tabloid website, offering would-be visitors the choice of switching off the ad-blocker or paying a monthly subscription free to browse the site mostly ad-free. Should users decline those two options, they will not be able to access the website at all.

The problem that most of us fail to realize is that websites have every right to advertise to us—although there is significant debate about both the intrusiveness it presents and possible data consumption it incurs—and moreover, the fact that our entire online existence, at least at this point, is built on this veritable advertising house of cards. If publishers can’t advertise, the simple fact is we’ll need to say goodbye to the days of quality, free online content and services.

According to Springer, for those who want to continue to enjoy the newsworthy delights ofEurope’s top tabloid, the options are simple: pay or be advertised to, there is no middle ground.

“Whoever does not switch off the adblocker or does not pay cannot see any content on Bild.de, as of now,” the publisher said in a statement on Tuesday.

While the entire online advertising industry is now searching for ways of developing ad-blocker friendly ads, Springer’s approach is significantly more aggressive, as creating such ultimatums goes to show just how seriously companies view their advertising revenue streams.

As a report from Reuters explains, “Axel Springer’s move is the first such initiative by a major German publisher and could accelerate the war between people using ad blockers and media owners who rely on advertising revenue as part of their business model online.”

In fact, approximately 200 million people used ad-blockers last year, up a whopping 40 percent from the year previous, resulting in an estimated $22 billion in lost advertising revenue, according to a study by Adobe and PageFair, which is notably an anti ad-blocking technology company itself.

Say what you might about online advertising, about those annoying auto-play videos, those creepy web tracking pop-ups, or my favourite, the ads that seem to have absolutely no idea who they’re meant for, until the online world finds another way to fuel the digital industry, ad-blocking is actually quite irresponsible on a number of levels, the most selfish of which is that if you keep doing it, it’ll eventually result in the elimination of all that great free content and those useful free services you no doubt enjoy on a regular basis.

But if we’re willing to act in a manner that will result in a subscription-based advertising free world in the future, why do we resist the ad-free subscription options widely available now? Lamentably it’s because we as a species lack foresight, meaning if our ad-blocking efforts do finally destroy the advertising industry and we’re forced to pay for everything again, we’ll cry foul and wonder how any of this could have ever happened. Or the alternative is, allow websites to do what they need to do to pay for the online world we love, allow them to advertise to you, there’s nothing that says you need to actually click on anything.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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