Friday, October 2, 2015

Ad Blocking -- Can Consumers Finally Get What They Want?

"Everyone is spending all their time talking about ad blocking right now. Everyone should be spending all of their time talking about why consumers feel the need to block ads."
~Tim Armstrong

There have been some very interesting court cases playing out in various places this year, and in April one of them came to a conclusion in Germany when a Hamburg court ruled that ad blocking software was legal. As in all court cases there are winners and losers. The first tier winners are the companies making software to block unwanted ads on consumers' mobile devices. Consumers themselves would appear to be instant winners as well, since these very same ads have been an enormously annoying intrusion on their user experiences.

Content publishers cried foul because the way they pay for what they do, and how they generate the revenue that keeps them in business, is through selling the very selfsame ads these smartphone owners are wanting to block.

According to Business Insider there are over 200 million users of ad blocking software globally. But the real reason this topic is creating so much buzz is that Apple is not only embracing ad blocking they are using it as a selling point. Why? Because certain kinds of ads are simply so annoying.

I myself have made my living as an ad man, but every ad guy is also a consumer and here's my take on advertising.

First, direct mail targeted to what interests me does not bother me. If I buy suits or ties at Mainstream and I get a post card telling me about a 50% off sale, well hey, I like that. I don't look at ads in the paper and seldom watch television, so it works. They are communicating a message to a former customer. They are not mass mailing these things to every citizen in the Northland.

Magazine advertising is another ad form that I enjoy as a consumer. When the Internet was just starting out, I found Wired magazine to be an utterly thrilling read in part because the first twenty pages of advertising were so cutting edge, and superbly targeted. The publisher did not allow schlocky advertising in their book. The publication as a whole was an art form, visually aesthetic with cutting edge design and fluidly informative.

In the automotive enthusiast niche, print publishers strive to connect relevant content and relevant advertising to the readership they serve. Many readers actually look for the advertising.

For whatever reason, this has not been most peoples' experience when it comes to online, and especially with mobile devices. Most advertisers have the good sense to make it easy to find the little X where you close those blasted pop-ups.  Unfortunately there are some bad apples out there. And that's why Apple's move is so appealing.

Hopefully a balance will be found in all these things. Someone has to pay to produce all that content people seem hungry for. But then again, since its inception one motto of this new cyberworld we seem to live in has been, "The Internet wants to be free."Vamos a ver.

The quote at the time of the page came from this special report at

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