The following piece I penned for our weekly Digital Inspirational email at Blue Rubicon. Do sign up if you’d like such stories in your inbox every week.
New statistics out last week show the use of ad-blocking by internet users up by nearly a third (30%) in the last year, putting increasing financial pressure on news outlets and other sites for which advertising revenue is a key part of their business model.
Such a big rise would be worrying enough, but there’s a double pressure behind the rise which is likely to keep on pushing ad blocking higher. First, in many developed markets, ad-blocking has established a popular role as a tool to help users get the most of their limited and expensive data plans. Block data-hungry video ads, and your data allowance goes much further.
Meanwhile, in many emerging economies, ad-blocking is carving out a role as a (claimed) answer to fake news – because the business model behind some of the most voluminous sources of fake news relies heavily on digital ads, just the sort of thing which ad-blocking cuts out. That risks reputable journalists being caught with falling budgets due to ad-blocking – and yet many of those doing ad-blocking think they are helping reputable journalists.
This means the pressure is all the more on to find new ways of supporting journalism, such as with the New York Times and The Guardian‘s success in swiftly growing their paying subscribers base. It also means industry voices opposed to ad-blocking are going to have to sharpen up their messages, quickly, to have a chance of winning that debate.