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Government wants to help advertisers tackle ad blocking

The government is willing to help advertisers tackle the issue of ad blocking, acknowledging that it has the potential to “destroy” business models that are only just becoming viable.

Speaking at ISBA’s annual conference today (9 March), culture secretary John Whittingdale said it was one of the main issues on the government’s agenda for the coming year and quite simply “people need to understand that nothing comes for free”.

“Google, YouTube, Facebook, are all part of consumers’ lives and extraordinarily are free. We have created a world in which people don’t expect to pay for products. But what they need to understand is that [content] is the consequence of huge creativity and those people need to be rewarded for it,” he said.

Drawing parallels with how the industry approached the issue of online piracy a few years ago, Whittingdale advocated a three-pronged strategy: education; industry standard guidelines (i.e. Adhering to IAB's LEAN and DEAL principles), and government intervention.

Initial plans so far involve gathering all stakeholders in the debate (ad blockers and all tiers of the advertising industry) into one room to discuss acceptable practices.

However, Whittingdale also stressed that he wants to find a way forward that would continue to see the industry self-regulate.

Joining forces was a sentiment shared by ISBA president and Britvic chief Simon Litherland. In his opening speech at the conference, he said it was the “issue of the day” and one that could only be addressed “on a true pan-industry basis, with ISBA rightly taking a leading advocacy role.”