Advertisers Quick to Blame Ad-Blockers and Ignorance for Industry Problems

by Matt Klassen on January 25, 2016

adblock-1024x683Ad-blocking has become the bane of the online advertising industry, disrupting what has effectively become the revenue generating structure upon which most of the online world is built. Things have got so bad it seems, that popular blocking service provider AdBlock was reportedly uninvited from a recent advertising industry conference, as if banning a company with some 400 million downloads of its blocking software would somehow simply make the problem go away.

But as I’ve said before, the problem for most people is that they simply don’t understand how the Internet is funded. There are only two ways to make money with online content today: get people to pay for it, or get free content in exchange for viewing advertising. It’s the notion that Internet users can have their cake and eat it too, though, that has people complaining about advertisements, yet revolting against the notion of paying for online content; people want everything, they just don’t want it to cost anything.

General ignorance aside though, the fact that services like AdBlock have become so popular clearly speaks to an issue with the advertising industry itself, one that perhaps could be solved by inviting such ad-blocking companies to industry conferences and discussing the pros and cons of online advertising like mature adults, instead of banning such services from the discussion as if they were somehow the cause of the problem.

The simple fact is that ad-blocking software has become so popular because the general public has become so frustrated with how advertisements are currently delivered. Consider that ad-blocking currently curbs the trend towards diminishing content quality to make a quick buck, it stems the tide of malvertising, reduces the amount of forced engagement, and removes those ads that chew into data allotments with auto-play videos, and I think most would have to agree that ad-blocking is a wonderful tool; no one wants those things to be part of their online experience, so best to get rid of them (which Google is trying to do as well).

Of course the advertising industry likes those approaches, they’re quick and they’re easy and so far they’ve done a great job at creating a $50 billion dollar a year industry. The only problem, of course, is that they’ve alienated the intended viewership.

While content providers are searching for ways to force people to interact with advertising in exchange for actually viewing the content (many news publishers and media outlets are heading in this direction), such approaches won’t last long, as coercion has never been a strong long-term motivator for anything.

In fact, it seems like the advertising industry is trying to blame everyone except itself for the current downturn of the advertising industry, complaining that users don’t understand the revenue structure of the Internet and ad-blockers are feeding into that ignorance by giving people an easy way out.

But if such complaints sound childish and short-sighted, well, that’s because they are, and what the advertising industry needs to do is first to stop taking the easy road, stop trying to ram advertising down people’s throats, and work instead to improve both online content itself (no more garbage “advertorials” please), and the content of the advertisements. I doubt people visiting a site about tech and telecom news would object to relevant telecom advertising, that’s why we’re all here after all, but add pop-up videos and other such annoying intrusions, and a feed like this will quickly (and justifiably) become a ghost town.

In the end, if the online advertising industry is going to survive it’s going to have to find better ways to deliver advertisements, not ignore the ad-blockers that justifiably remove the intrusive and irrelevant ad content that no one should ever have to see anyway.

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

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