Ad Blocking Growing in Popularity, Publishing Group Warns Members

Digital Content Next, an association for the digital publishing industry, says a third of U.S. consumers are considering trying out ad blockers within the next few months. The group suggests that the best strategy to fight ad-blocking might involve putting the consumer at the forefront of the digital advertising process.

As it turns out, the real risk for the world of online media may not be ad blockers on mobile devices. It may instead have a lot more to do with the frustrations of desktop users.

A new report from Digital Content Next (DCN), an association focused on advertising within the digital publishing industry, found that a third of U.S. consumers are likely to try ad-blocking software within the next three months. The reasons? Ads are often too slow and too annoying, and being tracked is a concern to the public as a whole.

“On a scale of one to 10, my concern is at a level eight or nine—our industry has ignored consumer concerns, and now these same consumers are speaking up by installing ad blocking software,” Jason Kint, DCN’s CEO, said in a news release last week. “We need leaders across the industry to focus on providing better experiences, transparency, and controls that will solve this issue.”

The frustrations with online advertising have reached new heights in recent months, due in part to the increasing familiarity of intrusive ads in pop culture. For example, on Monday The Wall Street Journal noted that the television show South Park has recently focused on the online advertising issue, arguably its most mainstream notice yet.

But, while concerns about users blocking online ads have become more common in recent months—earlier this year, for example, The Washington Post started blocking users from reading its website if they were using ad blockers—the trend hasn’t proved nearly as dramatic among users of mobile devices with Apple’s iOS9, who can now turn on ad blockers. The Journal reports that the uptake of mobile ad-blocking platforms has been “minimal so far.”

Digital Content Next suggests that taking a transparent approach, one that considers the consumer’s role in advertising, is the way to handle the problem.

“Fundamentally, ad blocking is driven by billions of dollars being invested in automation of advertising and related technologies without enough attention on the consumer. This area warrants the most attention,” DCN’s press release said.

A recent episode of "South Park" poked fun at the rise of obtrusive advertising. (YouTube screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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