Online Advertising Trends: Ad Blocking Dominating Discussion

Ars Technica, Wall Street Journal, and others making headlines among online advertising trends – and one topic trumps them all

Online advertising trends – or should we say “trend” – are understandably at the forefront of publishing executives’ minds.

Ad blocking is cutting into digital advertising revenue, and with deployment rising among millennial media, it might be an understatement to say the situation isn’t improving.

But don’t lose hope! Strong subscription strategies working off a crowd-pleasing Portal can help block ad blockers. Meanwhile, Digiday has the scoop on some other ideas.

Ars Technica’s Strategy for Blocking Ad Blockers

Ars Technica is setting a standard for publishers looking to block ad blockers, Digiday reports.

“For Condé Nast-owned tech site Ars Technica ad blocking isn’t new: It has been dealing with the issue for more than a decade. The digital media brand was in a position where ad-blocking rates had reached as high as 40 percent around five years ago. Now it has beaten that figure down to 20-25 percent by deploying what’s increasingly become the standard mix of approaches for publishers: cutting out intrusive ads, running pop-up messages asking people with ad blockers enabled to whitelist the site, and prioritizing page-load speed,” Jessica Davies writes.

“Technology (and gaming) sites naturally skew higher for ad-blocking rates given the most active ad-blocker users’ profiles are male, tech-savvy, often gamers. In the U.K., the average number of adults blocking ads is 22 percent, according to the IAB, which means Ars Technica’s ad-blocking rates are at times over that average, but [Editor in Chief Ken] Fisher seems relatively relaxed about it — or more resigned to it at least.”

But Will It Work for the Wall Street Journal?

The Wall Street Journal is trying its own hand at combating ad blockers, Digiday reports.

“The move is interesting since the Journal is blocking articles that already require a subscription, making the case that not only should readers pay $200 a year for access but also take the ads (and tracking) that comes with the package. In the Journal’s case, the messages don’t appear to people unless they’re not logged in, though, either as a subscriber or through social media, which would seem to minimize that risk. It’s not known if the Journal plans to up the ante and prevent ad blockers from reading the site altogether,” Lucia Moses writes.


“The tactics have been met with varying degrees of success, and there’s no agreement on what the right approach is; some say the hard line only escalates bad feelings with readers, who understandably are using ad blockers to avoid seeing annoying and intrusive ads. Others say the soft approach doesn’t work because it can be a hassle for readers to disable their ad blocking software (some of whom may not even know it’s installed in the first place).”

Ad Blocking: Publishers Dismiss New Payment System

Adblock Plus is teaming with Swedish startup Flattr on a micropayment system, Digiday reports.

“My immediate reaction is it is a yet another way that Adblock Plus is trying to tax publishers. Surely if a user wants to pay a publisher, it makes more sense to do this directly with the publisher, not through an intermediary,” Incisive Media Chief Digital Officer John Barnes tells Lucinda Southern.

Adds Southern:

“Barnes argues that adding in more intermediaries and third parties could confuse the reader, which detracts from publishers’ goal of trying to educate about the value exchange in reading content for free.”

Aggressively Battling Ad Blockers Could Get You in Trouble With European Law

Is it against the law to block ad blockers across the Atlantic? Digiday has the straight dope.

“Once again, media companies are at the receiving end of ad-blocking news this week: It seems that those publishers using scripts to detect whether people visiting their websites have ad blockers installed could be in breach of European Privacy Law,” Davies writes.

“At least, that’s the case put forward by privacy campaigner Alexander Hanff, who said last week that he’d asked the European Commission whether publishers’ use of ad-blocking detection violated the ePrivacy directive, specifically when it comes to storage of information. He has since tweeted that the EC responded that ad-blocking detection tech does seem in breach of the directive. It seems Hanff may have been on to something, though there are a few misconceptions floating around too.”

Check out the article to find out more!

Which online advertising trends are you tracking? Tell us about it in the comments!

To read more about online advertising trends and other news, visit Digiday.


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