List: Ad-blockers are eating into website margins, and companies aren’t happy about it.
Ad-blockers have been controversial from the outset. Since the world wide web has put so much material online for free, businesses are struggling to make revenue through traditional channels such as subscriptions.
This made advertising the natural solution: keep content free but with a robust revenue stream tied to the number of users or viewers.
Research from PWC found that in 2016 global Internet advertising revenue will surpass TV advertising, with total Internet advertising revenue surging at a 11.1 percent CAGR to reach $260.4bn by 2020.
However, unfortunately for these businesses, the web was a step ahead of them. Ad-blockers, able to recognise advertising and cut it out for the users, have developed rapidly.
This has led to some websites issuing polite requests to users not to use the ad-blockers, and some taking more direct action by simply banning them.
Here are some of the companies and other bodies that have chosen to battle ad-blockers.
Facebook in August announced that it would be showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.
The company said that ads supported its mission of connecting the world and could often be useful to consumers.
However, it said that the primary reason people used ad-blockers was to stop annoying, disruptive ads, and introduced new controls to help users avoid these.
This includes the ability to set more detailed ad preferences, as well as the addition of tools to allow people to stop seeing ads from businesses that have added them to customer lists.
Facebook is essentially trying to find an accommodation between addressing consumer concerns but preserving the revenue stream.
2. City A.M.
City A.M., the London financial free paper, became the first UK newspaper to ban readers using ad-blockers from the website.
It began the trial in October 2015. The technology blurs out the text from stories on the website for desktop users who are using ad-blocking software.
The users are shown a message saying: “We are having trouble showing you adverts on this page, which may be a result of ad blocker software being installed on your device. As City AM relies on advertising to fund its journalism, please disable any adblockers from running on cityam.com to see the rest of this content.”
3. Yahoo Mail
“Uh-oh. We are unable to display Yahoo Mail. Please disable Ad Blocker to continue using Yahoo Mail.”
This was what many users of Yahoo’s email service saw when they logged on in late 2015.
They had been the unwitting guinea pigs in Yahoo’s trial, which prevented a small number of the email users from accessing their email accounts.
In July, China issued its Internet Advertising Interim Rules, Article 16 of which places a ban on ad blocking.
However, alongside this the new regulations sought to define what actually constitutes online advertising.
This means targeting false and misleading advertising for medical products in particular, with government approval being required to run ads for such products.
They would also require that paid search results be clearly differentiable from organic results and put obligations on advertisers to be responsible for the authenticity of advertising content.
An Adblock Plus blog condemned the move as “bullying”, saying it was taking away the fundamental rights of consumers.
Google had previously prevented ad blockers from being put on the Play Store.
Google updated its developer policy to make the prohibitions clearer earlier this year.
Google is now explicitly blocking ad-blockers that interfere with other apps by blocking ads within them.
Ad-blockers for browsers, on the other hand, are still perfectly welcome on the Play Store.
This will allow developers to continue to make profits from building applications for Android.