Confession time: I’m a digital marketer that has used Adblock for at least five years now. I love it, and when I use a computer that doesn’t have it installed, I miss it. I’ll admit, it was fun in the beginning to access content without generating revenue for its producers, but over the years, adblocking software has grown so much that it’s actually disrupting the ecosystem of the Internet.
Yes, it’s true: pop-ups, banners, and page redirects are the digital equivalent of a swarm of mosquitoes, but these advertisements fund the videos, articles, news, and information that we access on a daily basis. It’s the reason Facebook and Google can afford to be free services – but even they’re feeling the effects of adblocking software, which was used by about 144 million people last year.
It’s a huge technology, and one that’s so troublesome for advertisers that Google alone has reportedly lost an estimated $6.6 billion dollars to blocked advertisements in the last year. Business Insider claims that the company has managed to recover about $3.5 billion of that money by paying $25 million for their sponsored search engine results to be whitelisted by the largest adblocking software company, Adblock Plus.
Google has been surprisingly nonchalant about the rise of AdBlock. Though they have much to lose with the rise of the software, co-founder Larry Page merely brushed off the threat by commenting that advertisers would just have to come up with faster, more creative, and more useful ads to avoid getting blocked.
In response, marketers have attempted clever tactics such as native advertising and sponsored search results in order to make ads look less like ads. Facebook is constantly working to find new ways to monetize its service, recently making huge efforts to prioritize posts from your online friends. There are also more direct ways of combating Adblock, such as page barriers that look at your browser and refuse to load the page unless you disable your adblocker.
But will it be enough? Not only does the desktop edition of the software grow by an astounding 46% each year, but mobile giant Apple has hinted that the next generation of iPads and iPhones will allow developers to develop adblocking extensions for their Safari browsers. If it’s made more difficult for advertisers to reach consumers on both desktop and mobile channels, the model of the Internet as we know it will have to change to keep up.