Ad blocking is a serious issue for news publishers who have to persuade advertisers that ads posted on their sites will be seen by readers. Around two hundred million people use ad blocking software each month, so it’s a force that cannot be ignored. One estimate warns that ad blocking caused publishers to lose $22 billion in online advertising revenue in 2015.
A survey by Editor and Publisher revealed that 69 percent of news publishers are moderately to seriously concerned about the effect of ad blockers on their revenue in 2016. Rightly so, as a study of news consumers across twelve countries found that almost half of all users of news media websites regularly use ad blocking. The number is even higher when it comes to eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds, which is a coveted cohort of readers.
Conquering Ad Blocking
Rather than silently hoping that ad blockers will go away, publishers have tried to get to the heart of the matter so they can accurately address the issue. They believe that there are two primary reasons that people download ad blockers: to drastically reduce page load time and to avoid annoying pop-up advertising that intrudes on their screens.
Given these two factors, publishers are trying to both improve the user experience from a technical approach and to tweak their advertising to make it useful instead of irritating.
One solution is native advertising, which is paid content that imitates the style of the news site’s content. Native advertising steers clear of ad blockers, does not interfere with page load time, and also attracts readers. Users often attend to this type of content because it provides useful information that they find valuable. Readers appreciate the truth, so as long as the native advertising is clearly labeled as paid content, it generally does not deter them from using the sites.
Another solution is for publishers to accept only “clean” advertisements on their sites. Readers find intrusive ads the most aggravating. Pop-up ads, display ads, video ads, ads that take over the home page, and ads that dominate the screen, all send readers running to download ad blockers. At the same time, a report by Adobe says that more than 60 percent of people who block ads would be willing to accept non-annoying ads. Image ads, text ads, and videos with a“skip” option are all acceptable to many readers. News publishers who promise their users only to display these clean types of ads can entice their readers to turn off the ad blockers.
News publishers are constantly modifying their products to best suit the needs of their online readers. Striking a delicate balance between earning ad revenue and pleasing their readers is part of the challenge of the digital age.