$50.7 billion.

That is how much was spent on digital advertising in 2014. While $19 million was spent on mobile advertising digital display ads accounted for $22.2 billion. In a world where concerns of shrinking ad revenue in traditional media are rampant, digital advertising has been hailed as a saving grace, particularly for publishers. But what happens when that saving grace is faced with its own form of kryptonite? Enter ad blockers. While not a new technology by any means, these electronic gatekeepers’ growing prevalence among mainstream consumers is raising warning flags.

So what does that mean? For consumers, the promise of an enhanced browsing experience with ad blockers is not without merit. In addition to the lack of ads interrupting content consumption, ad blockers increase browsing speed by removing back end operations that run ads and remove third party tracker’s ability to track user data. This means that the pair of pants you view can no longer follow you across the Internet as an ad. Seems like a good deal for consumers, until publishers start to push back. Digital advertising accounted for 28% of total media advertising revenue in 2014. A study by Adobe estimates that ad blocking will cost publishers nearly $22 billion in revenue this year. With the prospect of losing nearly a third of their advertising revue, it is unsurprising that publishers have been quick to find solutions. The most amicable of these is to request that users “whitelist” their site, allowing ads to pass through the ad blocker. A more aggressive approach is to block users utilizing ad blocking software from accessing content. This tactic is possibly effective if a consumer is determined to consume that content, but risky in forcing consumers to participate and thus alienating them. Publishers also have the option of partnering with anti-blocking vendors to encrypt ads or the ad blockers themselves, paying to be able to serve ads.

What about the advertisers themselves? Many have not yet considered the implications of ad blockers, instead placing the burden on publishers and ad exchanges. If ads are not served, they do not pay. However, with the increasing prevalence of ad blockers, brands and agencies will have to turn attention to maintaining their reach with decreased views from publishers. While it may seem counterintuitive, many ad-blocking advocates argue that the practice of allowing select ads to be served forcers advertisers to develop better ads, adding to the consumers experience instead of detracting from it. How they accomplish this will be a creative marketing feat.

What are your thoughts on ad blocking? Do you use an ad blocking software? Let me know in the comments below




Source: Pew Research May 2015