In today’s fast-paced world, many millennials are using their smartphones to browse the web in exchange for their PC’s or laptops, due to the added convenience of being able to stay connected on the go. With the move to mobile requiring adaptation, many websites and blogs such as Forbes established their mobile presence to solidify their share of readers.
This initiated the ad battle, a tug of war between ad-blocking services and ad-dependant publishers.
The last thing a reader wants to do while reading a blog is to have to fight with an army of advertisements bombarding them by marketers. Simply put: It’s annoying. Nobody wants to be required to scroll past a dozen ads before even reaching the content they came for. Clickbait titles, leading you to a websites that have a 2 paragraph article spread out onto 6 pages, requiring you to scroll past, and/or click through ad after ad. Especially with the move to mobile, many users don’t want to waste their limited monthly allowance of data on loading irrelevant advertisements, which have no target audience, all while trying to read a simple article on, for instance, cats.
However, there are two sides to every story. And the reality is that all publishers have bills to pay. Publishers largely rely on ad revenue for their survival. So advertisements and sponsorships are a huge part of ensuring their own continuation of business.
The ‘ad-light experience’
Forbes got 42% more readers to turn off ad-blockers. But how did they do it?
Forbes decided to take a different approach. Site visitors using ad-blocking software are greeted with a welcome landing page, requesting that users turn off adblock software in order to continue to their desired content. Site visitors are told that they will receive what they have termed an ‘ad-light experience’ by complying with the request. Essentially this is Forbes saying that they have operational costs, so to make everyone happy we will show you fewer ads, but we still have to show you some.
But did Forbes win the fight against ad blocking software?
Is denying ad-blockers access to your site really the best strategy?
Or should publishers work to improve their advertising experience?
What about utilizing messages to inform readers of how and why publishers need ads, or messages suggesting donations, subscriptions, or something similar. These outlets all generate revenue, and with the right marketing could reduce the need for as many ads.
There are a few ethical, or controversial issues surrounding ad-blocking software. Some of which, pertain to the issues surrounding the collection and utilization of your personal information by publishers or advertisers.
Web ads are different from ads through other media. Web ads are software that run arbitrary code on your computer, which more often than not collect and send data about you back to the advertisers. This is done largely without your consent or knowledge, moreover, the information collected can become aggregate your activity into a personal profile.
Many users are uncomfortable with this, and are expressing this frustration.
What Does This Mean for Ad-Blocker Software?
The future of ad-blocking software is contentious.
Although ad blockers have benefits, they also hurt a lot of publishing entities. Writers deserve to be paid for their work, so to provide the content for free is not possible. And for readers to expect (great) content for free is unreasonable expectation. So I don’t see advertisement going anywhere anytime soon.
However, the need to increase user readability, and to un-clutter the browsing experience is apparent. Entities can no longer afford to ignore this. If users feel more annoyed browsing your site than entertained, you have a significant problem to address.
What does this mean for digital content in the future for other companies?
Well, it means that companies are going to have to figure out a way to balance their need to cover operational costs, while also offering their own ‘ad-light’ experience. In order to maintain readership, there will have to be a compromise. If you are a publishing entity, your content is your product. If consumers are unable to access your product, or are discouraged from accessing your product, then it is only logical to find a workable solution to the problem.