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Why Ad Blocking Isn’t the End of the World

Advertising and Promotion


By Rich Kahn

The industry as of late has been abuzz with the pending ad blocking apocalypse. Reactions have been mixed: some publishers are indifferent while others think the sky is falling. However, publishers shouldn’t panic just yet. This latest round of ad blocking doesn’t spell the end of the digital advertising world.


Sure the numbers upon first glance look stark - there are 198 million global active ad blocker users. However, the keyword is global, of those users only 16% are from the U.S. On top of that, another study found that mobile ad blocking is still very underdeveloped.

Ad blocking is definitely worth paying attention to, but it won’t bring the advertising industry to a screeching halt.  

Ad Blocking Is Cyclical

Remember when the world was supposed to end in 2012 according to the Mayan calendar? Well, we’re still here. The world isn’t going anywhere and neither is digital advertising.

Ad blocking is nothing new; it’s cyclical, rearing its head whenever new ad block technology is announced. In fact, it’s been around for years.

Recently, ad blocking picked up steam again when Apple pushed an update that allowed ad blocking on iPhones and iPads for the first time. However, this latest hype surrounding ad blocking will eventually simmer down for two main reasons:

  1. There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Content comes at a price: ads. People who want their content to remain free (and most do) will continue to view ads.

  2. People Will Find Ways to Get Around Ad Blockers. Until technology is developed that’s 100% ad blocking foolproof, people will create a way to get around the ad blockers.
User Experience Is King

Users don’t mind ads when they serve a purpose. They’ll even learn to live with them as long as they don’t interfere with the user experience.

Publishers can combat ad blockers by remembering that user experience is king, making sure sure to:
  • Balance Content and Ads. While there’s no official golden ratio, most sites see success with 70% content and 30% ads. Be sure to watch your ad to content ratio. Too many ads will displace content and make your site look tacky, which will make you lose viewers.

  • Load Ads Quickly. Ads that take too long to load will annoy your customers. When the New York Times analyzed several publications’ homepage loading speeds, the results were eye-opening. Ads that increase load time drain smartphone batteries and increase bandwidth charges. But more importantly, they’re annoying to those (most notably Millennials) who want instant content.  
Users who don’t mind ads won’t block them. It’s as simple as that.

Long-Term Outlook

So what will the long-term ramifications of ad blocking be? Nothing.

When push comes to shove, people will either force companies out of business or have to pay for the actual content. The likelihood of either of those happening is nil; it’s been proven that people don’t want to pay for content.

Currently, some publications have taken a stand. The Washington Post is fighting back by preventing ad-blocking users from viewing their content. Other publishers remain unmoved, waiting for the storm to blow over. And it will blow over.

Like before, people will forget about ad blocking and move onto the next hot button topic. When someone creates a new blocker, the cycle will repeat itself. Rinse and repeat.


Rich Kahn Bio
CEO of eZanga
rich@ezanga.com
Twitter: @RichKahn

Richard K. Kahn, CEO of eZanga.com, has been a leader in the online advertising industry since 1993. He founded SEM and search engine eZanga in 2003. Over the past 15 years, Rich has specialized in all areas of the Industry. In 1993, he organized and wrote an e-magazine that later transitioned into his next endeavor, the First Street Corporation, an Internet Service Provider. Mr. Kahn operated the First Street network out of his home and managed the customers and sales from an office nearby. In 2000, he sold the company to a publicly traded organization. In 2001, Rich joined AdOrigin Corp., a pay per click advertising network, as the COO.

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