The Win-Win-Win Scenario for Digital Advertising vs. Ad Blockers

Author: Steve Donehue
Posted: Nov 3, 2016

Topics: Digital Media

My name is Steve and I’m a news junkie. But I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with the distracting and destructive advertising I’ve seen on news websites lately. And I’m not the only one.

As I see it, there are three groups at play in the consumption of news online:

  1. The publishers
  2. The advertisers
  3. The users.

And let’s face it, we’re in a lose-lose-lose scenario.

Let’s start with publishers.

Publishers want to produce unique, thought-provoking content that expands their readership, but they can’t do that for free. After all, they have staff, servers and overhead like any other business. Meanwhile, users today are increasingly unwilling to pay for subscriptions. That’s where advertisers come in. We pay for space within a publisher’s website, a setup not too different than the good old days when newspapers ruled the media landscape.

But here’s the thing — advertisements in a newspaper or even a magazine aren’t popping up out of nowhere, interrupting your news consumption or even taking you to a new page. Digital ads on the other hand… Now that’s a different story. So it wasn’t long before invasive and interruptive digital ads spurred the invention and subsequent mass download of ad-blockers. Oh, the ad-blockers. They seem great for users until we take a step back and realize publishers can’t keep producing our favorite content for free.

Hence the lose-lose-lose.

It’s a problem that’s been gaining steam for awhile now. That’s why organizations and companies that make the most money in advertising on the web (specifically, Google, Facebook, and a slew of others) recently formed the Coalition for Better Ads. Their mission is essentially to “Make The Web Great Again.” Or something like that.

According to their press release, the Coalition will leverage consumer insights and cross-industry expertise to develop and implement new global standards for online advertising. In the coming months they will:

  • Create consumer-based, data-driven standards that companies in the online advertising industry can use to improve the consumer ad experience
  • In conjunction with the IAB Tech Lab, develop and deploy technology to implement these standards
  • Encourage awareness of the standards among consumers and business in order to ensure wide uptake and elicit feedback

While I appreciate the formation of a coalition, none of these organizations or companies are new to the web. So will they solve my problem like Marvel’s Avengers of the Internet? I sure hope so, but I’m skeptical. After all, these companies have been responsible for maintaining the web already and look where it’s gotten us. The web has turned into the world’s biggest collection of distracting advertising.

And while their mission is honorable, I suspect that their real objective is to get users to delete those pesky ad-blockers so they can start making more money. Which isn’t exactly a win for all parties involved, either.

So maybe we’re thinking about it all wrong. We don’t live in a world of advertisers vs. users, after all. Users can love advertisements just as much as the content they pursue if those ads are done correctly and considerately. In other words, a lot of the distracting ad tactics are missing the real power of the web — the ability to deliver relevant content to the right people in exchange for simple, beautiful ads that resonate with them.


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