The CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in the US, Randall Rothenberg, has declared it “bullshit” to say ad blocking is at all beneficial for the industry, exemplifying options such as standardisations and legal pursuits publishers could take to combat ad blocking.
On Tuesday B&T published an opinion piece from Mike Hill and Dan Hitchcock from Sydney digital agency Holler who argued why the industry should embrace ad blocking technology.
“Consumers have grown increasingly tired of being subjected to a deluge of random or, even worse, targeted shitty ads that invade their screens and generally impinge on their browsing experience,” the duo wrote.
“Ad blockers are the rational response, a silent protest by those who want to make their own choices about the information that they view online.”
However, Rothenberg has slammed the sentiment, labelling ad blocking a criminal activity and anyone to dignify ad blocking is “foolish”.
“Ad blocking is a – from a standpoint of the providers of the ad blocking companies – is a quasi criminal activity,” he told B&T.
“These are companies that are interfering with extraordinarily legitimate and important business operation between and among companies and between media companies and their consumers.
“For anybody to dignify it as a legitimate or important activity I think is being foolish.
“These ad blocking companies, many of them especially some of the larger ones, engage in extortionist business models where they’re basically trying to extract mafia-like protection money from publishers. I don’t think anyone should look at them as anything different than the sopranos come to the digital advertising world.”
Industry needs to take some RESPONSIBILITY
While all that is said, Rothenberg did note the media, marketing and advertising industry needed to take some responsibility and address some of the issues the rise of ad blocking has raised.
“It is less so about the quality of the ads themselves,” he said, “which after all is a very subjective point of view…to me, that kind of subjectivity is meaningless.
“What is not subjective, what is objectively true, is that we have done so much gumming up of the digital advertising supply chain itself by piling so many pixels and so many tags and so many other things into ads and onto sites in order to advertising analytics and site analytics and various kinds of metrics, that advertising can and does too frequently, is impede the user experience,” he explained, adding an example being the increased length of page load time.
And going back to the roots of the digital ecosystem, “we designed our sites to be really crappy and cluttered and overloaded with bad ads”, he remarked.
“I think where the industry does bear responsibility and must take giant strides to change is to always be focused on the quality of the user experience.”
What can the industry to do stop ad blockers?
While the industry can work on its site aesthetics, delivery ease and user experience, it won’t completely stamp out ad blocking.
Rothenberg pinpoints two other things the industry can do to try and get rid of those pesky companies.
One, the industry can work on standardising technologies that tell a publisher when a visitor has ad blocker turned on, and deliver a message back to the consumer about the cost and implications of using that technology.
“And depending on the business model of the site, the site should have the technical option of curtailing a user’s access if ad blocking is turned on,” added Rothenberg.
“At an industry wide level it would be good if we can either implement standardise systems that allow that or, at the least, educate our industry and publishers about how to deploy these technologies that are available.”
Further, if it comes to it, Rothenberg said the publisher could pursue legal options against the ad blocking companies, not the user of ad blocking technology.