What your B2B company needs to know about the ad-blocking controversy

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The recent introduction of iOS 9 has stirred up plenty of discussion and controversy among B2B firms involved in advertising and ad-tech.

With Apple users now able to download ad blockers for their iPhones and iPads, many are worried about the effect it will have on their online advertising efforts. After all, UBS says ad blocking technology will only kill ad revenues by $1 billion, and Moz and Fractl found that nearly 2/3rds of millennials are already using an ad blocker.

In the past few months, almost every publisher and ad industry executive has been meeting over the impact these ad blockers could have on their bottom line.

To be sure, ad blockers can be quite effective in their goal. While it may be impossible to block every single advertisement, most won’t get through. “Ad blocking apps work by stripping the code that displays on websites,” David Erickson, VP of Online Marketing for Minnesota public relations agency Karwoski & Courage says, “and some apps strip the analytics code as well.” This not only affects the ads but the attempt to track user actions with big data analytics tools.

But blocking ads in this way can create added problems for B2B companies, as noted by James Gardner of Connective DX, a digital experience agency.

“Most of these problems trace to the ad blockers mistaking pieces of website functionality for ad-serving scripts and then blocking them from being served,” Gardner says. “In reality, the functionality could be powering personalization, analytics, testing, shopping cart, or any number of benign tools that are essential to the website running smoothly.” With these functions affected, Net experiences would deteriorate.

The rise in ad-blocking means B2B firms have looked to tweak their usual approach. That means switching up how to tailor their advertisements. Many experts believe this will be realized via more native advertising, or ads that fit directly with the content in an unobtrusive manner.

Roger Wu, founder of Cooperatize, indicates story ads are a way to incorporate advertising into compelling content. “For the publisher,” Wu says, “it’s a way to make their pages pretty again and not load slowly; a huge reason ad blocking was built in the first place.”

Others believe publishers will respond quickly with different strategies for keeping readers on their sites, such as “something as simple as requiring users to disable their adblocker or pay $.99/mo to access the site,” Jay Friedman, COO of ad-tech firm Goodway Group says. “Consumers may at first pay for a couple sites, but when they realize they’re only blocking half their ads and spending $30+/month, I believe users will realize ads are well worth the price.”

Essentially, many B2B firms may find their way around ad blocking entirely. At the moment, ad blocking software has the advantage, but it might not stay that way for very long. Many publishers will likely find ways to increase the impact of ads that make it through the block. “I’m not overly concerned about the effects [of ad blocking],” Rich Kahn, founder and CEO of eZanga.com says. “The internet is built for advertising and advertisers will always find a way around anything that stands in their way.”

Complicating matters, particular with the iOS 9 release, is that the mobile and desktop platforms can vary so significantly. It’s this difference that many B2B firms will likely target. Though the iOS 9 release brings ad blocking to mobile devices, mobile apps are a different matter.

“While ad blockers are effective at stopping ads from loading in mobile web,” Maggie Mesa, Head of Publisher Development at Manage, says, “their efficacy does not transcend to mobile apps. Advertisers have already begun to follow consumers to mobile apps, so broader adoption of mobile web ad blockers will only accelerate this migration.”

Right now, the world of ad-blocking and B2B ad firms are in a state of evolution. It’s true that the rise in ad-blocking is stirring up a lot of unease, but it’s to be expected that advertisers will respond to these changes rapidly.

Whether overhauling the advertising content, moving to mobile apps, or figuring out ways to make ads worth more, the latest hand-wringing over ad-blocking is only the latest of what will be a long journey into making the Net of place of attractive content that can sustain itself through advertising.

Flickr photo via Creative Commons license

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Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado is a business technology consultant for several Fortune 500 companies. He is also a frequent contributor to news outlets such as Wired, Tech.co, and Cloud Tweaks. Rick enjoys writing about the intersection of business and new innovative technologies
Rick Delgado

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