Should you use Ad Blockers?

And subscribe to get your content?

Some food for thought:

  • How much the internet costs per user?
  • What’s the cost in posting a news article on the web?
  • Why Ad Blocking is not a threat to Advertisers

Each to its own
 Where do people usually go for their content? Most would say social sites, others already know where to go… No matter what kind of business you are in, or how old you are, everyone has things that they want to know, things that is good to know (professionally or socially), and things that you are not sure why you want to know.
For instance, you want to know the score of a match because you love football. It also helps on social interactions. But you end up clicking to know some gossip from a footballer. In a multitude of channels and content generators, and the lack of time to consume it all, a user won’t be able to find what’s best or more interesting by herself.


What gift should you give to your partner this Christmas?
 Sometimes we know the answer and it’s crystal clear, but most times we don’t… Wouldn’t it be handy to Google: “gift for gf’s birthday”, and then you get a list of recommendations? The results could recommend things like “dating site subscription” or “alone get-away”!
 It’s highly immoral to share personal data with members of the public. The same with credit card numbers or bank account details. People could go crazy between themselves.
But some data can be shared between companies and networks, and your friend could easily be exposed to what she had been looking after in an online ad. The data collected — likes, comments, shares, page views, etc creates a personalised and tailored experience for the user via algorithms.
This personalised experience enables publishers and advertisers to expose you to content they think you would like or be impressed by — and making you click.



Compare that with a tabloid magazine, which is nothing more than a advertising platform with some disposable content dressed with cheap bait.
It is quite frustrating because most of these links lead you to a blog page with very superficial content or a distorted view of the subject or with unchecked claims — or totally irrelevant from the starting point altogether. And as the tabloid magazine, the landing page will be full of ads.
Although much of the content out the is ClickBait, many big publishers use the same technique. The more page views you have the more you can charge for ad-space.
On mobile sites, publishers realised that ads took over too much real estate on screens, so ads changed to look like the publisher’s content, disguised to get the user’s attention whilst they are hungry and ready to share/buy/comment.

Content Ads
Display Ads can be remarkably annoying — and some publishers still allow some nasty ad formats (pop-ups). Banners block the content that you are after, try to trick you with fake buttons, lead into a different destination, among other bad habits — a bad user experience. Most relevant brands nowadays never advertise this way and many publishers follow best practices in the UK.
The digital world is not like TV channels, the user can choose where to focus and decide weather to engage with the ad or not. Taking the example of the TV a bit further, ads are broadcasted to everyone (Programmatic TV Ads are coming soon!), and this means ads are not relevant to most of the audience on TV. The digital world, as we’ve seen before, can gather data and predict what might interest the user.
 Content ads can either be placed in between the publisher’s content:

  • Images on an article
  • Display ads wrapped around
  • Sponsored links
  • Related Content

And Content Ads can be the content itself:

  • Disguised as UGC
  • Dressed as the host’s content
  • Generating content for other brands.

So far we’ve seen the kinds of ads and strategies advertisers and publishers use to attract users to its pages. It’s clear that we have too much content coming our way, even if this is already filtered. So how do publishers make their money if their services are free?

Ad Economics
The internet needs ads to survive. Imagine how expensive would be to run BuzzFeed for free? Or Google Search? Spoiler: No service is ever free. Sites use advertising to help fund them. The fact that the internet runs on advertising troubles a lot of people. If you are a NYTimes reader or other major news outlet — and you don’t pay a subscription, you will only be able to read 5–10 articles.
“Our ads pay for your content, please disable your ad blocker to allow them”
The Guardian, for instance, has opted for a polite message, which tells the user that it detects the presence of ad blocking software and reminds them that advertising funds their content. It suggests that either the ad blocking software is disabled on their site or the user considers subscribing to The Guardian.


Google would never be so massive, just as Facebook, if services weren’t free*. Free to use under the condition that these companies can use your data from searches and likes, and share that with advertisers, so when you are on another service, you get a relevant ad.
 Per per Click
AdWords is the best example of a more-than-fair market. While you google, brands fight to be on the top of the results list. Google shows ads that are more relevant in terms of SEO, keywords and number of clicks. It’s displayed for free, and only when you click, the advertiser pays. (Pay-Per-Click). The company then pays Google. Adwords works very well, but if you need to add more content to your ads, use Display Ads
Display Ads are the banners we see everywhere. This kind of ad uses other kind of methodology. The Pay-Per-Impressions method. We should be glad Google search does not support Display Ads! But not the same on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram….
When the user is scrolling their favourite content, ads can be annoying or can disrupt the user experience. Blocking ads would be seen as advantageous on most sites, as you are there to consume one thing — the content. But these services depend on ads, so we can use their platform and consume the content.
 Let’s have a look in to some of the Ad block players and how Advertisers and Publishers are fighting it.


The Blockers
Ad-blocking apps are widely available, for desktop and mobile. Some are paid, some ask for donations. There are other types that charge publishers for allowing certain ads to pass through the filter, such as AdBlocker Plus.Modern blockers like Shine, has their eyes on blocking ads on 3G and 4G networks, which might be tempting for more data-expensive location in the world.Accepting Ads
Realising that we could not have the internet as fast and reactive as we have today without advertising is just one small step for accepting ads.
We have to delve deeper in understanding the User Experience. Find ways to get the user used to the facts that ads are there, you share info overtime, and everything is already tailered anyway.


IabUK has made great proposals for this which follows:

  • The DEAL initiative
  • The LEAN initiative
  • AD CHOICES icon

“publishers can continue to make their content, services and applications widely available at little or no cost to the consumer. We believe ad blocking undermines this approach. “
Let’s have a closer look into these initiatives:
Raising Awareness

  • Detect ad blocking, in order to initiate a conversation
  • Explain the value exchange that advertising enables
  • Ask for changed behaviour in order to maintain an equitable exchange
  • Lift restrictions or Limit access in response to consumer choice


Best practices for ad developing:

  • Light weight
  • Encrypted for safety.
  • Ad Choices enabled
  • Non-invasive

User first scheme:
By clicking on this icon you can find out more details about the information collected and use, as well as ways to manage or control it.
This initiatives help publishers in creating best practices, allowing them to offer content at a higher quality to the consumer, improving the user experience. This would therefore reflect on the quality of the ads themselves.
Publishers can have more income from advertising, be able to grow and produce more and better content, and therefore enhancing the cycle.
At the same time these initiatives are taking place, the number of internet users and ads grow, and the landscape transforms into new media outlets. Thinking of the marketing rule: 80/20, we can see that focusing on the small part of people that really engages with ads is more profitable than thinking about all the others that don’t.


Not Relevant
Some leaders in the advertising world are scrapping the idea that ad blocking might become a problem. People that use ad blockers are not your target audience. Ignore it. They won’t see it, you won’t pay for the impression or clicks.

There is a big change happening, where ads are now becoming more User Centred on mobile phones. Apps like Snapchat and Instagram make advertisers change their content so that the ads look more like user generated content other than end frames and call to actions.
Advertisers are realising that clicks are not really the end result but rather its relevancy, placement and the time the ad was being exposed to the user — Visible Metrics.
 So even if your ad was not engaged, it could have been read/viewed/consumed by the user, generating Brand Awareness. This is mostly true with Video Ads, where you get what you want — image/sound and by the end of the Video you can make a decision to know more.

Perhaps our pages wouldn’t look so appealing without any ads on it — or even credible. If you look at this page, without any “Real” ads, would it look as good?


São Paulo lessons


In 2006, São Paulo, the biggest city in south decided to go Print Media Ads Free. It used to be a place with the biggest building wraps and the architecture was hidden behind it. Lingerie companies would expose the biggest top models 12 story long legs. [empenas].


Sao Paulo does look cleaner without so many colours and logos, and bodies, but the space gave way to other kind of visual communication — grafitti.


Learn More:

IAB UK Guidelines

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