Brands are moving to help publishers tackle ad blocking

The UK's leading brand-side marketers are trying to put together a coherent strategy to help tackle the thorny issue of ad blocking and are looking to trade body ISBA to help align their efforts.

ISBA will host a workshop on the issue in the coming weeks in order for its members to devise a cohesive strategy to aid their media distribution partners on ad blocking, an issue few on the buy-side of the industry have spoken publicly about.

Discussion around users downloading ad blocking software - technology which has been available for years, but has become one of thee media stories of 2015 - has centred on its threat to publishers, and now advertisers themselves are starting to take note.

Bob Wootton, ISBA's director of media and advertising, explained the plan to The Drum when discussing a member worskhop on how brands can hone their programmatic advertising strategies hosted on 8 October.

"Ad blocking is a clear and present danger to publishers, and is obviously an issue for advertisers too. We want to help them through it," he said.

"A lot of our members have to fight tooth-and-nail for budget, and when you get it you want to be able to spend it."

The rise of ad blocking is popularly accredited to the increase in brands carrying out campaigns using programmatic - or automated - advertising technologies, which commonly involves a business model where advertisers don't have to pay for ads that are not served. Some argue that ad blocking software actually protects advertisers, as those that install the software were unlikely to be receptive to any ad that is served to them.

However, Wootton explained that this was scant consolation to marketers. He said: "A refund is better than nothing, but it's not much."

These moves come as investment bank Goldman Sachs published a report discussing ad blocking which claims that actual adoption of ad blocking software is currently under debate, but advises readers that user numbers span somewhere between 5 per cent, and 16 per cent of web users.

However, it also goes on to state the scale of the issue is likely to increase rapidly given the issue of iOS9 by Apple, which enables ad blocking in its Safari web broswer, and within app usage sessions.

"While ad blocking has been previously accessible on desktop and Android, with some but clearly not a draconian impact to the ad ecosystem, what’s different now is this is now entwined with Apple’s broader motivation to improve the mobile user experience and could elicit a competitive response from companies like Google," it reads.

Leading publishers such as The Washington Post have responded to the rise of ad blocking by using software that prevents users from reading content on its site if they are using ad block software, but those on the buy-side of the industry have yet to come out with a unified voice on the issue.

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