Ad Bureau Offers Publishers Strategies to Tackle Ad Blocking

In an attempt to get ahead of an issue frustrating members in the publishing industry, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is offering a set of new solutions to fight ad-blocking software.

Ad blocking is such a big problem these days that not even The New York Times can ignore it. And that growing headache is leading one major industry group to take steps to stop ad blockers dead in their tracks.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is taking a twofold approach to the ad-blocking problem—one strategic in nature, the other technical. First, it has released “Publisher Ad Blocking Primer,” a strategy guide meant to assist publishers in dealing with the problem of ad blocking tactically. This guide includes a four-step approach it calls DEAL:

  • Detect ad blocking.
  • Explain the concerns of the publisher.
  • Ask for a change in behavior.
  • Lift restrictions or Limit access based on how consumers respond.

On top of this, the bureau’s technical lab is sharing an ad-blocking detection code that publishers can use to figure out who is blocking ads and then communicate their concerns with those consumers.

“We believe that a combination of tools and the DEAL approach to communication with consumers will allow publishers big and small the chance to cut through the blockade, ensuring the strength of the open, ad-supported internet,” IAB’s Scott Cunningham, who manages the association’s Tech Lab and serves as its senior vice president of technology and ad operations, said in a news release on Monday.

In comments to Ad Age, Cunningham emphasized that the strategy is meant to put the decision to block ads into the hands of consumers rather than simply blocking access to the website.

“We know that users are looking for choice and we have to respect that,” Cunningham explained to the magazine. “So let’s offer them a choice, let’s make them a D.E.A.L.”

Like the publishing world as a whole, IAB has been heavily focused on the ad-blocking challenge in recent months, running into controversy after the bureau chose to disinvite the firm behind Adblock Plus from an event earlier this year. However, the trade group has made it clear that it opposes ad blocking from an ethical perspective but understands why consumers may be interested in the mechanism.

“As abetted by for-profit technology companies, ad blocking is robbery, plain and simple—an extortionist scheme that exploits consumer disaffection and risks distorting the economics of democratic capitalism,” the group wrote in a strongly worded essay on the topic last year.

The post recommended that advertisers consider focusing on acquiring higher-quality ads rather than allowing lower-quality approaches that raise concerns for consumers and lead them to use ad blockers.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

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

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