It was in the works for a long time, reflecting the increasingly uneasy co-existence between advertising and free content. It’s not surprising that some are saying that ad blocking could be the largest boycott in the history of mankind. It’s a movement that can trace its origin to our grumblings over the 3rdclass mail (necessary to offset unprofitable 1st class mail) that junked up mailboxes. In the past, users fought back against junk and invasive ads withP.O. boxes, premium email accounts, and fast forward buttons. Now, they have bigger weapons with which to fight, armed by browsers and iOS 9. The resistance is growing. Almost 30% of U.S. Internet users nowbrowse-while-blocking, and globally over $21 billion in 2015 ad revenue was blocked and lost, according to an Adobe report. Based on this scale, the solution has become a problem.
User experience has always been a concern of our industry. Yet, the difference now is that companies likeApple have given control to the user. Admittedly,smartphone users, who by recent measures check their phones 150 times a day,need control. And help. Checking frequencies are only going to increase. Is the solution to inefficient mobile page loads and costly data that plague the user experience simply to block ads? Is the counter-solution to this solution to deny content access and erect pay walls, as Condé Nast has done? From our perspective, the solution has to be multi-dimensional and address bad ads, improved mobile web sites, and educating consumers on the importance of advertising. If the ad blocking debate leads to a significant improvement in the quality of ad sponsored content and greater transparency, than we will all benefit from these changes.