88Mr Fix It on Flickr changed “Here” to “Hell” in this “billboard liberation” photo.

Adblockalypse!

We created Recurrency to help creators of all kinds — podcasters, artists, authors, musicians — get paid to do what they love and there is no bigger threat to those content creators today than ad blocking.

What is the Adblockalypse?

“Adblockalypse” is the end of days for publishers and advertisers. Once it arrives, content creators on the internet will never be the same again. Many will be destroyed. The ones who survive will be forever transformed.

And that might not be a bad thing.

Why is Adblockalypse happening now?

People have been using browser plugins that load web pages minus the ads for years now. But as long as the percentage of ad blocking visitors has been low, like in the teens, content creators have simply ignored the threat. They have treated it like breakage. Now desktop ad blocking is pushing 50%, Apple’s newest iPhone operating system iOS 9 has ad blocking built in and ad blockers are the most popular apps in the App Store.

Can publishers and advertisers continue to ignore ad blockers when they reach 80%? Or 100%? Of course not.

Abuses by ad networks and the rise of mobile content consumption have caused ad blocking usage to soar.

Online content has always been supported almost exclusively by advertising. The first banner ad was clicked on by 44% of the people who saw it. These days, ad clickthrough rates are measured in hundredths of a percent. You are more likely to survive an airplane crash, win the lottery or complete Navy SEAL training than click on a banner ad.

Advertisers had to find other ways to squeeze out some value for brands. Visitor data is useful, so they started selling it. What’s better than selling that data to one company? Selling it to a dozen companies!

All of that tracking meant every single webpage was bogged down with extra files and server calls. It was a big waste of bandwidth, but desktop browsers had unlimited bandwidth so no one cared.

But now we’ve started using our phones to surf more often than our computers. When ad networks wrap 8K of content in 6MB of advertising junk that eats up a phone’s data plan, people notice. Now they’re fighting back against the page bloat, privacy invasion and miserable mobile experiences — and Apple is on their side.

Ad blocking has gone mainstream.

So Apple is causing the Adblockalypse because they want better mobile user experiences?

Not exactly. The Adblockalypse was set into motion by revenge.

Online content creators rely too heavily on a single revenue stream (advertising), usually from a single company (Google), and that company’s greatest enemy (Apple) now controls where content is consumed (iPhones).

“Greatest enemy?”

Not too long ago, Google and Apple were close friends. Google’s CEO was on Apple’s board of directors and had access to Apple’s most intimate plans. There was a balance of power. Apple owned the smartphone market and Google owned search and advertising. They even had a secret illegal deal to never steal each other’s talent.

Then Google decided to go after Apple’s smartphone business with Android. To be fair, they didn’t have a choice. The world was shifting to mobile and Google was going to lose its leadership on search, which feeds directly into their massive advertising business.

In his biography, Steve Jobs was openly enraged over Google’s betrayal:

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

Ad blocking in iOS 9 will damage Google’s primary source of revenue. This is Apple’s opportunity to honor Steve Jobs’s promise to get revenge on Google for Android — all while plausibly claiming it’s being done to improve mobile user experience.


“My zombie apocalypse plan is simple but effective:
I fully intend to die in the very first wave.”
— Graham Parke, Unspent Time

Who will survive the Adblockalypse?

If you’re a content creator who wants to survive the Adblockalypse, you need to diversify. You can no longer survive on advertising alone.

I’ve said this before: the old ways of making money from content are broken. Record deals, book advances, banner ads? Broken. Not what they used to be. And we couldn’t have predicted six months ago that the anemic banner ad business would be faced with extinction so soon.

So how can creators diversify?

Some ad blockers are whitelisting non-abusive ad networks like The Deck. Use one of those.

Product placement, live events, native advertising, video ads and recurring crowdfunding — getting paid directly by your top fans — are all immune to ad blocking. If I were you, I’d start with the recurring crowdfunding.

What are you waiting for?

Bring on the Adblockalypse.

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