The Chess Game of Ad Blocking Software

It wasn't that long ago we were reading how bots posed an online ad serving problem; traditional media trade publications used bots existence as proof that digital advertising was fraught with fraud. As an aside, bots were not news to anyone familiar with technology.

Bots crawl the internet. It's what they do. Only scant discussion was given that bots presented a problem only to those who sell or buy impression based advertising, and the online advertising industry acted quickly to establish fraud-busting programs and filtering lists.

Properly set up with a functional landing page, cost-per-action (CPA) and cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns continue to deliver accountability despite our still ever-present bots - which we see little about anymore.

Today it's ad blocking software offering a different set of problems.
Since mobile's made its jump to mainstream, ad blocking software use has grown rapidly. Professional publishers can't justify the effort in making content which doesn't create revenue. Ultimately, over time, content without a revenue stream will disappear or become weak. Depending on your view, you lose, or not.

Last Friday Marco Arment, creator of the most popular ad blocking software in the Apps Store, Peace, pulled it. His reason: "Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who donít deserve the hit." He's referencing content creators.

The latest news of Apple's iOS 9 enabling ad blocking is going to start another round of discussion, with much vitriol from believers that all content should be free. These "entitlement minded" types believe the world exists to serve them on their terms, and that advertisements serve no purpose other than to make their lives miserable.

I dislike most advertising, too, though I understand it's the currency of content. Ask a musician how hard it's become to sell a song or survive on donations for support to this claim.

A quick look at donations and subscription percentages shows that most people feel paying for content is something someone else should do.

For people who install ad blocking software, a warning from Mashable: "Thanks to software that can detect whether a site visitor is using a blocker, websites can now direct messages at these readers, jam ads through to them anyway or even withhold stories." (Google's YouTube is one site introducing this approach.)

For publishers of content, part of the answer is to get back to the basics of offering advertisers CPA and CPC campaigns. And if you view this as exchanging old media dollars for new media dimes, study the revenue potential of managing landing pages, A/B testing, or online sales. Revenue extends beyond simply serving an impression of a client's message.

Options are building your web site with the inclusion of revenue generating functions that don't use ads or including ads as "native" to a site's content. Linkedin and Facebook are prominent users of the latter. Audio Graphics' RRadio Music the former.

Like anti-virus programs, online advertising is a game of cat and mouse. The reason there are so many iterations of your favorite applications and programs is due to no code being created that can't be made better with hindsight. In a perpetual cycle of software Ying and Yang, there will always be hackers finding backdoor access, which leaves developers going back and fixing problems. Hackers find new holes. Developers fix, and the chess game repeats.

If you use ad blocking software, know that you are not punishing the advertiser as much as the creator of the content you gain knowledge or joy from. You are stealing content that took someone time to create.

Does the ad community need to provide better advertising? Yes! But creating better advertising costs more money for the same reason there's a higher cost to producing quality content. Data powered campaigns - serving ad content based on your online movement - are part of this improvement process, and in constant evolution.

Even though some content will always be found for free, over time it will become painful to use ad blocking software. The better material will be placed behind walls; your computer and hand held will use more data and processing; that smartphone will become more of a paperweight.

Know that nothing is free forever. My guess is that even Apple will force you to see ads on its network, despite the enabling of ad blocking in iOS 9. Only you won't recognize the "ad" as an ad; It will be related to some other action or click that you've taken which has been counted by Apple.

Monday, September 21, 2015      eMail to a Friend

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Pixley Arbuckle
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