Co-Founder and COO
The ad blockalypse may have been an overstatement, but a steady stream of internet users in France, Germany and the UK continue to use ad blockers. eMarketer’s Bill Fisher spoke with Brian Kane, co-founder and COO at content compensation platform Sourcepoint, about how increased communication between users and publishers could help the advertising industry buck the ad blocking trend.
eMarketer: How prevalent is ad blocking in the UK, France and Germany?
Brian Kane: Across our platforms, it’s about 18% for our UK publishers. France and Germany both have slightly higher rates. There’s data that suggests rates have gone down or stabilized.
I suspect that’s happened in markets where publishers have started to take back control of the conversation with users, and encourage them to whitelist sites in order to see content. In Germany, for example, there’s been a good amount of dialog, and publishers have put up “content locks” that prevent users from accessing content while the ad blocker is turned on. Ad blocking is a symptom of this broken communication between media companies and consumers about how content is paid for. Publishers need to illuminate that value exchange.
eMarketer: How do you open those conversations with consumers in order to cut down on ad blocking?
Kane: Publishers seem to default to advertising to generate revenue, but that’s a hangover from the early days of the internet. Publishers should allow consumers to opt in to the compensation mechanism of their choice—you can whitelist the site, opt in to advertising or leave. More than 50% of users opt in to advertising when presented with that choice.
“Publishers seem to default to advertising to generate revenue, but that’s a hangover from the early days of the internet.”
The next phase is to give consumers the ability to pay for content in an ad-free or ad-lite environment. The macro climate has changed with respect to subscriptions, and the timing is right for publishers to revisit and double down on subscription-oriented offerings.
eMarketer: Why is now the right time to make consumers understand they need to pay for content via advertising or subscription?
Kane: There’s an education process happening now. Publishers are putting up messages to ad blocker users that explain: If you like this content, it has to be paid for in one way or another.
That said, the majority of content will be paid for with advertising. Consumers will opt for advertising, but on their own terms. Most consumers are OK with ads if they have the option to choose and they opt in to the experience. It’ll be a more customized ad experience that enables publishers to get back to sustainability.
“Consumers will opt for advertising, but on their own terms.”
eMarketer: What is the future of ad blocking, both 12 months from now and a few years from now?
Kane: Twelve months from now, we’re likely to be in similar straits. It’s possible there will be a slight reduction if publishers continue to engage with their consumers. But there are a number of “what if” scenarios that could tilt the scales back to talking about the “ad blockalypse.”
Mobile has not been impacted to the same extent that desktop has, so we could see activity in the mobile space that gets us back to talking about it as a crisis-level issue. The mobile experience can be poor, and mobile monetization for publishers has been a challenge in and of itself. But the notion of choice is just as important on mobile as it is on desktop.