It has been a while, to say the least, since updating this blog. The tidal wave of news, analysis and commentary about ad blocking has not decreased in recent weeks. If anything, it has increased. Yet while not posting here, I have been tracking the topic by building a database of articles, posts and tweets that others have made. And that database is now huge!
Clearly, single-handedly covering ad blocking on a daily basis is completely unrealistic, as there is too much for one person with limited time. I do still believe, however, that there is a gaping hole in the media’s coverage, namely, the perspective of the consumer. So much of what is written about ad blocking is explicitly from the viewpoint of the publisher, the advertiser or the technologist. All three of those groups are more than happy to divine “what readers really want” but they inevitably do so from their own self-interested vantage point.
Luckily, readers do get to communicate their opinions in an unmediated fashion, at least when publishers allow commentary on their stories. Pretty much any mainstream article about ad blocking guarantees a vigorous push back from readers in the comments. I even found myself provoked to commenting by a recent Forbes piece about their attempt to reduce ad blocking on the site. Of course, readers do get to make their wishes known by continuing to install ad blocking technology, as they certainly are doing. But that is a pretty awkward conversation, rhetorically speaking.
Instead of trying to cover all the twists and turns in the ad blocking debate, going forward I will be writing in a more targeted manner, focusing on the technological side of ad blocking. By this time, almost six months since Apple’s allowance of ad blocking in iOS, most people are well aware of the issues that created the phenomenon and the flailing initial response by publishers and advertisers. The battle lines have hardened and discussion is leading to action.
The real site of interest, at least to me, is how these new moves play out technically. Will publishers and marketers devise foolproof ways to force readers to consume advertising against their will? Or can the ad-busters, both professional and amatuer, continue to maintain the upper hand? And how will the battle evolve as more and more attention shifts from desktop to mobile internet?
We have learned a lot about how those questions are being posed, but there is much more to come. I hope you will join me in exploring them more deeply.