IAB primer outlines anti-ad blocking choices for publishers — and their risks
Report offers a full range of approaches, featuring varying degrees of aggressiveness.
The IAB Tech Lab has published a primer for publishers about how to confront the growing challenge of mobile ad blocking. The report outlines a number of approaches or options for publishers and discusses their risks and potential benefits.
In its introduction, the IAB says:
This primer describes the options available to publishers faced with ad blocking. It is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of tactics without making any specific recommendation.
Implementers of these tactics are advised to take into account their relationship with their audience, as what might be appropriate in some contexts might be unwanted in others. The conversation about ad blocking continues to evolve, and the norms of expected publisher behavior may change significantly and rapidly.
A wide net was cast with regards to risks and benefits, as the group aims to educate about all possibilities.
There are seven approaches or implementations identified in the report, some more restrained and some more aggressive:
- Access denial
- Tiered experience
- Payments from visitors
- Ad reinsertion
- Payment to ad blocker companies
- Payments to visitors
The hope is that by implementing one or more of these approaches, publishers can start having a “conversation” with users about the importance of advertising to free content.
The IAB has created a clever acronym that outlines the philosophical framework — DEAL:
- Detect ad blocking, in order to initiate the conversation.
- Explain the value exchange that advertising enables.
- Ask for changed behavior in order to maintain an equitable exchange.
- Lift restrictions or limit access in response to consumer choices.
Some publishers are already using a version of this approach. The mobile Forbes site is an example.
Interestingly, the IAB report doesn’t discuss improvements in the user experience or ad quality as a component part of addressing ad blocking, although the trade organization has mentioned it elsewhere. The need to address the root causes of ad blocking is partly behind Google’s AMP project.
Poor user experiences (e.g., slow page load times, pop-ups) and fear of malware are driving some people to adopt mobile ad blockers. A smartphone owner survey I conducted last fall, using Google Consumer Surveys, found that overwhelmingly, people would block ads if they could.
If you could block advertising from showing on your smartphone, would you want do that?
Source: Google Consumer Surveys (n=1,020 US smartphone owners 18 and older)
Depending on your reaction to that survey and similar findings elsewhere, one could argue ad blocking is a looming crisis for digital publishers and marketers. Regardless, ad blocking is becoming a more serious issue. Last month, mobile carrier Three said that it would begin blocking ads “at the network level.”