How Can Your Business Battle Ad-Blocking?

As Apple brings ad-blocking software into the mainstream, how will publishers make money on free content?

Do you use ad-blocking software? It’s understandable: pop-up ads get in the way, video ads can be disruptive when they start playing automatically, and too much content on a page can slow down loading times. But on the often-free internet, isn’t advertising the price we pay for not having to hand over real cash?

The economies of the rising trend of ad-blocking is about to get tested as more people will be introduced to it: the new versions of Apple’s iOS and Safari will include ad-blocking options as standard. The number of users of ad-blocking software was pretty high to begin with: 39% of people in the UK and 47% in the US have installed the software, and the numbers are even higher among people under 24, according to Reuters Institute.

Ad-blocking software has been described as “immoral”, because it deprives publishers of the income they should arguably be making in exchange for letting people view free content. If a publication depends on ad revenues to stay afloat, too many people using blocking software wouldn’t just be ethically dubious, but it could even contribute to the closure of that publication. In addition to this of course, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google all run on ads too. Julia Greenberg at Wired took a particularly stark view on Apple’s news: “Apple is betting that consumers will go where the best stuff is, and where they find the easiest, most beautiful experience. But, there’s no such thing as free. The web is fragmented, disjointed, and hard to control. It seems free to users. But it’s ads that keeps content creators’ lights on.”.

The good news for publishers depending on advertising income is that the move away from straightforward ads has already begun. Sponsored content, native advertising and product placement are among new, more seamlessly incorporated ad models: “Many publishers are abandoning the old models in favour of new ‘native’ advertising or sponsored content. Buzzfeed, Vox and Vice are leading the charge, with the New York Times, Washington Post, and Guardian amongst traditional news organisations setting up creative teams to work on editorial content with brands,” writes Nic Neuman, research associate at Reuters Institute.

Facebook attracted attention a few weeks ago when it presented a new concept for mobile advertising at the Cannes Lion conference. The new ads, which use rich imagery and 360-degree views, have been hailed as the possible future of mobile ads. These ads won’t come as static images, but would give users the options to look through a selection of pixel-dense photos or GIFs. Swiping a finger across the screen provides a 360-degree view, generated by 3D modelling. This is a way away at the moment though as Facebook is currently soliciting feedback.

“Facebook is catering to the ad industry, which is a smart move considering 94% of its revenue comes from advertising, nearly three quarters of that from mobile devices,” wrote Kurt Wagner at “Re/Code”. “Of course, Facebook will also be tasked with walking the line between advertiser wants and user happiness.” The new 360 degree ads could, if done well, strike this balance: the format lets you access much more information about a company without having to leave the ad. Or maybe these ads will be interesting enough that people actually want to look at them? Whether it be a traditional ad or a sponsorship, sponsored content is most successful when it’s creating something people like – or at the very least, something they don’t feel like they want to block out.

So be smart when it comes to getting your product to the masses; look ahead to new innovative advertising trends and be prepared for the ever-changing digital business climate. Whatever the weather, be sure to have some power at your back: UK2 has that covered.