Digital Media Trends: Ad Blocking and Viewability Even Bigger in 2016

To block ad blockers or let them be? Free or paywall? Quality or quantity? The digital media trends that will define 2016 …

If it’s 2016, and we’re writing about digital media trends, you know it must at least touch on the topic of ad blocking and/or native content. Today it’s mostly the former, along with a little viewability sprinkled in for good measure.

With all of the coverage on ad blocking — Digiday rightly points out that the hype is starting to outweigh the issue’s actual impact — are we getting any closer to the heart of the problem? And, more to the point, reaching a solution that satisfies readers, publishers, and advertisers alike?

The answer is … maybe, and it’s one that involves something Mequoda Members already practice on a daily basis: Producing higher-quality content that’s not over-reliant on digital advertising revenue, but that rather integrates it into a multiplatform publishing approach and takes the long view on monetization strategies.

As usual, Digiday is right on top of the latest digital media trends like these. Let’s take a look at recent articles covering them.

The Takeaways From Ad Blocking’s Breakout Year

The emergence of mobile, mainstream awareness, publisher confusion, blame to go around, and saturation in industry coverage comprise Digiday’s 5 Things We Learned About Ad Blocking in 2015.

“The cure for ad blocking at this point is like the cure for hangovers: everyone thinks they have a remedy, but there’s no proof any of those remedies actually work. Some publishers say that the most effective way to fight ad blocking is to block users until they turn their ad blockers off (though some say fighting users is a mistake),” Ricardo Bilton writes.

“Other publishers have tried to appeal to readers’ decency with messages asking them to white list their ads (though that doesn’t seem to work either). And then there are the advertisers who love the people running ad blockers, whose aversion to advertising has paradoxically made them an attractive ad segment. The real solution, some agencies and publishers claim, is to create better, less intrusive advertising free of tracking. Um, good luck with that.”

GQ Is Latest to Block Ad Blockers

GQ follows Forbes as the latest high-profile publisher to go on the offensive when it comes to ad blocking, Digiday reports. The Conde Nast property will charge readers who refuse to disable their ad blocking programs.

“For the payment part, GQ is using CoinTent, a micropayment system started earlier this year that lets publishers charge for access to an article or video,” Lucia Moses writes.

“Once you click the pay button, you’re prompted to set up an account with a digital wallet that’s designed to make it easy to buy content around the Web. CoinTent’s site also lists another Condé Nast site Epicurious as a client.”

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Ziff Davis Navigates Between Free Model and Paywalls for Online Content

With new “FreeWall” technology from Rezonence, Ziff Davis will require readers to answer a question presented as part of an ad unit before accessing articles on desktop and mobile, Digiday reports.

“The technology gives value to the editorial content that’s being produced. It helps to create that channel effect where that content is appearing. If there are metrics that demonstrate people are engaging with editorial on that platform, then it’s a good thing for the publisher and the advertiser,” Ziff Davis International Commercial Director Adam Hopkinson told Lucinda Southern.

“Advertisers and agencies are pushing for more interactivity as a metric for engagement, which means bigger ad units that take up more space and load pages slower, so people turn to ad blockers. How are you supposed to win?”

Digital Media Trends: Long-Term Ad Viewability a Byproduct of the Content Publishers Produce

Publishers will ramp up content quality as well as metric quality to achieve more sustainable revenue, according to Digiday’s 2016 Preview.

“Ad blocking and viewability are both symptomatic of an over-reliance on boosting short-term revenues, rather than building long-term sustainable digital ad strategies. But that’s starting to change as newer models bubble to the surface,” Jessica Davies writes.

“In an industry obsessed with reach, reducing the amount of impressions it can sell is bold. If the latest figures are anything to go by, the average viewability rates across the industry, whether direct-to-publisher or via a network or exchange, are only around the 50 percent mark. … Taking that hit in the short term will pay off later, though, as advertisers increasingly appreciate that volume of inventory alone means little, when if a big proportion is fraudulent.

Which digital media trends are you tracking at the outset of 2016? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about digital media trends in the news, visit Digiday.

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