Mobile Ad Blocking: The Dominant Trend of 2015 … and 2016?

As the year draws to a close, digital publishers find themselves forced to fixate on mobile ad blocking

On desktop or mobile, ad blocking has emerged as the defining issue of digital publishing in 2015. This presents good news and bad news for online magazines looking to compete in a crowded marketplace.

The good news? There’s a real opportunity for digital magazines to find out what users want and reshape the way they do business with marketers. With higher-quality digital advertising paired with stronger content the rule and not the exception, revenues will rise and subscription websites will gain and hold more value.

In addition, the worst web magazines — exploitative, trashy, inferior ones — will fall by the wayside because clickbait will lost its effectiveness in the wake of tougher mobile ad blocking.

The bad news? Well, the bad news is that it’s always darkest before the dawn, and making money via an advertising revenue model is going to be tough for a while if the industry continues on its current trajectory.

But will it? Digiday takes a look in a handful of recent articles. Let’s wrap up 2015 with one of our favorite sources of news!

Will Mobile Ad Blocking Make Digital Magazines Improve UX?

In the coming months, publishers will have to look in the mirror and decide whether their strategy with ad blockers is benefiting their readers or alienating them, Digiday predicts.

“Digital advertising has grown up a like a weed. We built all these sites and places for ads to live but rather than give real thought to the landscaping, we just let everything grow. Now, everyone is saying, ‘we’ve got kind of a mess here so we need to take a step back and clean things up,'” Quartz Publisher Jay Lauf tells Ricardo Bilton.

“You have to serve your real customer, your audience, first so you can have the foundation for a solid business. No one has the luxury anymore of ignoring the user experience.”


Incisive Media to Block Users of Ad Blocking Programs …

The UK’s Incisive Media seems to get this, but that won’t stop them from experimenting with strategies that keep consumers with ad blockers from accessing some content, Digiday reports.

“Publishers have partly caused the problems by letting their sites become too open and letting too many ads in, which clearly led to us not respecting the user or the content. Imagine if you walked into Harrods and were hit by a wave of people trying to stuff leaflets in your pockets — it would ruin the experience. It’s exactly the same thing,” Incisive Media Managing Director John Barnes tells Jessica Davies.

“Far too many people try and test these things on small brands. We want to tackle it head on with one of our biggest brands. It’s about showing we recognize there is a problem and making sure the site is a better, less intrusive user experience.”

And Forbes Will Block Ad Blockers, Too

Forbes will ask visitors to disable ad blockers in exchange for an “ad-light experience” for 30 days, Digiday reports, but readers who want to then have their cake and eat it, too, will run into restrictions on access.

“It’s about doing something based on what our users are looking for versus not doing anything,” Forbes Media Chief Revenue Officer Mark Howard tells Brian Morrissey.

“They’ve already chosen to install the ad blockers. They’ve already chosen that Web experience. For us, is there an experience we can offer that they’ll whitelist us? It’s not all or nothing.”

Meanwhile, Dennis Employs a Different Strategy

Dennis Publishing, parent of Alphr, Men’s Fitness, and The Week, will aim for a more conversational approach with consumers, asking them via messaging and social media to consider the impact of ad blocking, among other strategies, Digiday reports.

“As an industry, we have lost some trust and must accept that and address it. Some are trying to make out it’s a moral argument. It’s not; it’s a commercial argument,” Dennis Digital Managing Director Pete Wootton tells Davies.

“It’s a wake-up call to do things differently. At the end of the day, we’re all part of the same ecosystem. Why would I bother spending millions of pounds on content to not get anything back in return? The solution is not to just block ad blockers.”

What are your thoughts on mobile ad blocking? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about mobile ad blocking in the news, visit Digiday.


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