According to New York Times President and CEO, Mark Thompson, the biggest players in the ad blocking industry represent “the most cynical, most money-grasping end of the old unreformed digital ad business”. His comments were made at the recent IAB Blocking Summit where he voiced his opinion on why publishers shouldn’t pay to have their websites whitelisted.
The New York Times is the latest to join the fight against ad blocking – which is expected to cost media companies over $35 billion by 2020 – with Thompson indicating the publisher is now considering preventing ad blocker users who refuse to whitelist its site from accessing digital content.
The issue of ad blocking encompasses all digital formats, but the impact may well be greater for some types of advertising than others. Ad blocking has grown out of user frustration with slow loading, intrusive and irrelevant advertising, and these factors are amplified with video. An annoying display ad can potentially be ignored, but an irritating video ad that prevents the user from accessing the content they require until it has played cannot. When you add in other considerations such as data use and auto play with sound switched on as default, it’s not hard to see why users are easily persuaded to block video ads when they have the option to do so for free.
So how are publishers responding to the rise of video ad blocking and what options do they have for preventing the loss of revenue it causes?
Pay the price
Paying providers of ad blockers to whitelist advertising on their sites is exactly the practice Thompson condemns so emphatically, and he is far from the first to do so, with the IAB’s CEO Randall Rothenberg describing it as “an extortion-based business”. But for some large organizations that have millions of dollars on the line, paying up is seen as the simplest option. Video is widely acknowledged as the future of online content, and is the fastest growing digital advertising category, so the likes of Google, Microsoft and Amazon are handing over a significant chunk of ad revenues to ensure ad blocker users still see video advertising on their sites.