Ad blocking

There has been a lot of news around ad blockers recently. Basically, ad blockers let users enjoy an ad-free experience while browsing the web (desktop and mobile). They don’t block ads that appear in mobile apps.

Ad blocking therefore threatens the business model of browser-dependent companies like Google and leading publishers that depend on advertising as their main revenue stream. As a result, these companies have started paying ad blockers to allow some of their ads to actually be delivered to users. The argument is that this is only being done for ads that are actually relevant to users, but what constitutes a relevant ad is in the eye of the beholder. You can imagine how letting publishers pay for their ads to not be blocked by an ad blocker could be abused to allow irrelevant ads to pass through.

Andreessen Horowitz recently hosted a podcast on ad blocking which you can listen to here. The podcast addresses how ad blocking emerged, what types of browsing it impacts, how often it’s currently used, and potential solutions for publishers to monetize users that choose to block ads.

The assumption that publishers need to develop solutions to ad blocking implies that ad blocking isn’t going away, and I agree. Users don’t enjoy the content of most publishers enough to pay for it. And they often don’t enjoy it enough to even accept the irrelevant ads that come with the content. As a result of ad blockers, as a publisher you’re going to have to improve your content and/or make your ads more relevant to users to survive.