2015 was a pivotal year for ad blocking. From a hardly recognised inter-industry subject, ad blocking has rocketed into the public discourse, reaching pop cultural mega-status: it was featured in—not one—but three South Park episodes.
Over 200 million consumers to date have chosen to voice their discontent with the abusive nature of digital advertising by turning to ad blocking. As Doc Searls, author of ‘The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge’, pointed out, ad blocking represents, “the biggest boycott in human history”.
The less progressive voices in the ad tech industry predict that this consumer choice will lead to demise of digital content. This, of course, is complete nonsense. I’ve been online since 1984, and if there’s anything I’ve learned, innovation in one area always leads to innovation in another.
Digital publishing has met existential challenges in the past. First, there was the move from print to digital. Then came ‘social’. And most recently, the move to ‘mobile’. At each turn the industry first exhibited hysteria before hunkering down to execute. True, there were casualties, but these bred even stronger new players. Innovation won out.
This leads me to my prediction for 2016… ad blocking, particularly on mobile, will reach hundreds of millions of consumers.
Skeptical? Digital Content Next recently released findings from its ‘2015 DCN Consumer Ad Block Report’ that showed 33 per cent of US consumers are very likely or somewhat likely to try ad blocking software in the next three months.
Will ad tech seize this opportunity to reassess its relationship with consumers and develop monetisation practices that are not abusive? Practices that respect consumers by giving them choice, and a voice?
I predict that smart advertisers, publishers and ad tech companies will. And they will be the ones to reap the rewards of earning back the respect of consumers. Those players that continue trying to monetise the ‘best practices’ of yesteryear will soon discover the error of their ways. For many, it will already be too late.
Consumers will make sure of that.
As the chief marketing officer of an ad blocking company, I am thrilled that Shine is helping change online advertising for the better. As Roi Carthy, the consumer, I can’t wait to be among the hundreds of millions whose voice will finally be heard loud and clear: We will not be monetised at any cost.
Roi Carthy is chief marketing officer at Shine Technologies