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Buzzword Breakdown: Ad Blocking

March 30, 2016
Man working at computer blocking ads

Considered the bane of the digital advertising ecosystem, ad blocking offers consumers a browsing experience with less intrusion, faster speed, and privacy.

What exactly is an ad blocker?

Ad blockers are apps or browser plugins that detect and block known pieces of regular code/requests/sequences of keywords/expressions used to serve an ad. An example would be the blocking of URLs that contain google.adsense or a filter that blocks any request containing “ad” or “banner.gif”.

The roots of ad blocking can be traced back to as early as 2002, as an open source project coined “AdBlock,” created by a community of developers inside the Mozilla project. The mainstream “ad blocking” we’ve come to know today arrived on the desktop computer scene in 2006 from the current leader in the space, AdBlock Plus, as a means for building a better Internet experience. In September 2015, Apple granted app developers the ability to build apps with “content blocking” functionality for iOS devices - so Apple users can block most ads and user tracking on websites.

What does this mean for the digital advertising ecosystem?

Ad blocking affects display advertising (standard banners, video, social, mobile) and search. The ad will not create any discrepancies or overcharging in client reporting, because it has not been served.

  • Publishers directly lose revenue as a result of ad blocking.
  • Advertisers using third-party ad servers do not pay for blocked ads.

How should the industry counter this?

Quality content, native advertising, and engaging ad formats are key.

We need to lead the change in creating valuable, meaningful, and adaptive experiences for people by understanding the consumer, what they want, and at what point in their journey they want it. Leveraging data and analytics to more accurately target your audience and serve relevant content will ultimately lead to an improved user experience.

This is a pressing issue for the industry, and all the players are discussing how to address ad blocking in a way that helps the publisher, advertiser, and consumer.  Should consumers have to pay for content?  Should interruptive ads be reduced and regulated?  As the conversation continues, here are just a few recommendations for you:

  • Know your audience
  • Increase ad quality
  • Target accurately
  • Utilize sponsored content with creative ad units
  • Use native advertising to promote content

Now read our post on content and storytelling