An Honest Conversation about Ads and Ad Blockers — with Steve Feldman of Stack Overflow

This week on the podcast we talk with Steve Feldman, who is the Senior Manager of Ad Operation at Stack Overflow. I wanted to have Steve on the podcast because he wrote a really interesting blog post about Stack Overflow’s perspective on ad blockers. In it, he discusses the reasons that Stack Overflow isn’t going to do anything about ad blocking and what lead them to this conclusion.

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The more we discussed ad blocking on this episode, the harder it became to form a concrete opinion on the issue. On the one hand, advertising is what keeps the internet free, allows publisher to create content, and pays the bills for everyone in digital media. On the other hand, its tough to argue that publishers & ad tech companies haven’t over stepped their bounds and with tracking technology and this raises real privacy concerns.

This was a very interesting and honest conversation about one of the major issue in the industry today and I appreciate Steve coming on to talk about it.

Steve’s Blog Post:

Show Notes

1:35 — Overview on Stack Overflow
2:38 — Programmatic vs Direct Sold at Stack Overflow
3:30 — Steve’s Blog post and why they are not concerned about ad blocking
4:45 — The decision each site has to make about their audience
5:20 — Stack Overflow’s Audience and how this affected their decision
6:40 — Revenue and Page views are increasing despite this problem
8:35 — Reactions to site wide pop ups about ad blockers
9:30 — Has the publishing industry let down its users with the rise of ad tech?
9:50 — Two ways of looking at ad blocking
11:45 — Cookie profiles on users
12:30 — Ad experiences on different sites
13:16 — The ad blockers do have a point
13:40 — How the ad blockers are positioning themselves
14:10 — Ad blockers running ads for charities
15:00 — Thoughts on Ad Blocking
16:45 — All sites think that they handle advertising well
17:30 — Accusation of Bot Traffic against publishers
18:28 — The separation between advertising and the increased sales of products
18:50 — What does Stack Overflow see in terms of ad tech pitches
19:40 — Separation between primary data and 3rd party with vendors
21:50 — The personal questions for each publisher about countering ad blocking
23:30 — What is the natural conclusion to ad blocking?
24:00 — Branded content as an alternative
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