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Publishers split on how to tackle ad blocking

Approximately 6-in-10 publishers would choose to serve audiences with ads, even after their readers have proactively installed an ad blocker by using anti-ad blocking software, according to a report looking into one of the key issues facing media owners today.  

The report, published today (17 February), reveals that direct consumer messaging – where ad blocker users are asked to uninstall the software upon detection by publishers – was favoured, with over three-fifths (62 per cent) of UK publishers selecting this method to deal with the rising problem.

However, the global study into publishers’ attitudes to dealing with the phenomena also looked into regional differences. It found that circumvention of ad blockers – where a publisher uses software to deliver ads even in the presence of such software - was highly favoured in the US and mainland Europe.

Just under two-thirds (64 per cent) of US publishers favoured such an approach, while 59 per cent of their European counterparts agreed on such a strategy. Although such a totalitarian approach was less in-favour by UK media owners, with only 52 per cent advocating such a move. 

The report was commissioned by anti-ad blocking company Sourcepoint, which also revealed regional differences towards locking content – where ad blocker users are prevented from viewing content - with over half of UK and mainland Europe publishers in approval (52 per cent and 56 per cent respectively). In parallel, 53 per cent of US publishers claimed they were unlikely to explore this method.

Meanwhile, the report also revealed that 90 per cent of UK publishers were opposed to paying fees to ad blockers that allow specific ads to be whitelisted, and ultimately displayed, such as Eyeo’s AdBlock Plus.

However, there seemed more of a global consensus when it comes to the implementation of a paywall from the surveyed publishers.

When asked if they would implement a paywall to prevent ad block users from accessing content, 78 per cent of UK publishers, 77 per cent of European publishers, and 75 per cent of US publishers were against the measure.

Ben Barokas, Sourcepoint, CEO, said the results demonstrated the disparity in publisher attitudes in “strengthening relationships” with ad blocker users.

He added: “Publishers accept there are a number of reasons why users install ad blocking technology and therefore different solutions are available to reach key audiences.”

The web-based survey questioned over 150 global publishers — with respondents including comScore’s Top 50 Digital Publishers — and sought to establish which ad blocking solutions publishers favour.

Focusing in particular on the approaches publishers plan to implement in the next three years, the survey identified the three methods most likely to be utilised as: direct consumer messaging, circumvention, and content locking.  

Featured by The Drum