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Ad Blocking Is a Serious Threat

Most web users prefer to access an ad free version of the internet, and ad blocking software has made this possible. However, many popular online content providers depend upon the revenue generated via advertising to keep their operations afloat. And so there’s a problem: in order for such businesses to survive, either ad blocking has to stop or businesses need to find a new way to market their goods online.

According to CBS News, around 10 to 15 percent of visitors to news sites are now deploying ad blocking software. In the UK, according to a survey by YouGov, it is thought that 22 percent of adults are blocking ads. And globally, according to Pagefair, the amount of internet users using ad blocking software is said to be a whopping 37 percent.

getty_61618995-851x433The variance between these figures has been attributed to differing methodologies, different sample sizes, and even the differing motivations of those gathering the data. However, whichever statistic you take, the popularity of ad blocking is clear, as is the fact that the software’s popularity is increasing.

Not only the total number of ad blocker users is increasing, the number of mobile ad blocker users is also thought to be going up. In fact, according to Fortune, 22 percent of the world’s smartphone users are now using ad blocking software, and this is a huge problem: globally, more and more internet users are choosing to surf from a mobile rather than a desktop device, and so mobile ad blocking may be becoming an even larger problem than desktop blocking.

So what can online marketers do? In a press release, Nancy Hill, head of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, said: “Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to take a hard look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue….”

One of the ways marketers can do this is native advertising, in which products and services are advertised in the same form as the rest of the content on a website – so, for example, a site specialising in creating listicles may allow companies to advertise their goods within an existing listicle or to create a listicle of their own.

Native advertising is a relatively novel concept, and the efficacy of such ads has yet to be proven. In the short term, then, countermeasures such as paywalls and anti-ad blocking software may be needed to keep many online publishers in business. Indeed, this is the approach taken by companies such as Forbes and Channel 4.

Ad blocking will continue to be a divisive issue in the world of digital media, and just how things will look in five years’ time nobody knows. What we do know is that, in order to thrive, online publishers need to be looking toward innovative new solutions that simultaneously keep consumers happy and allow companies to advertise effectively.

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