The ad industry is changing—here’s what publishers can expect

The advertising landscape is undergoing its most sweeping transformation in years. Apple just released the new version of Safari, which prioritizes user privacy; an updated version of Google’s Chrome, with a new ad filter, comes out in January; and new rules on data protection in the European Union take effect in May. These changes will […]

How Google’s Chrome plans will impact publishers, ad blockers, and the web

I’ve spent the last two years fighting in the ad-block trenches, so I’ve gotten lots of questions about Google’s recent announcement that new Chrome ad blocking options are on the way and what that means for publishers, ad blocking, and the industry as a whole.

Before we get into that, though, let’s go over the key points of Google’s announcement:

1. Ad blocking/ad filtering feature built into Chrome. This is getting a lot of coverage because it sounds controversial to say Google is building an ad blocker, but the concern is largely overblown.

By default, Chrome will prevent all ads from loading on any website that doesn’t conform to the Initial Better Ads Standards published by the Coalition for Better Ads. These standards aim to eliminate ad formats that block content, disrupt the user’s experience, or generally annoy users. Most publishers will not be impacted by the move, but it will force those with bad ad experiences to clean up their act.

It’s a smart move by Google, but it’s about five years too late. It’s likely to slow (or maybe even stop) the growth of ad blocking, but it’s difficult to imagine that existing ad block users will spontaneously uninstall their ad blockers because of it.

Some have speculated that there are anti-trust concerns if Google is playing the role of arbiter. However, I’m not in that camp. Google’s dominance in the market is already established, and it stands to lose far more if it abuses its new power than it could possibly gain.

2. Funding Choices. Google will launch a Chrome feature next year that allows a publisher to wall off content from ad block users unless they disable their ad blocker or pay up via Google Contributor (in which case, Google gets a cut).

More than likely, the reason for baking the feature into the browser is to make it impossible for ad blockers to circumvent.

Google will make this available to publishers in the form of a product called Funding Choices. Publishers who sign up will be able to stop any Chrome user with an ad blocker from accessing their content unless the user turns off their ad blocker or pays.

What this means for publishers

If Funding Choices is wildly successful, it could take a significant bite out of global ad-block rates, and publishers around the world will rejoice.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest Funding Choices is unlikely to succeed because:

a) Many have tried and failed
Google is not the first to try this approach. There’s a graveyard full of anti-ad block vendors who banked on the strategy. Of those who remain, few still offer this product.

One such company experimented with the strategy for years. Today, they claim it results in bounce rates as high as 74 percent and recommend ad recovery (AKA ad reinsertion) as the only viable solution for publishers.

Anecdotally, I’ve discussed the topic with a couple hundred publishers during my time in the space. Of the ~40 who tried the strategy, only one continues to make use of it.

Contrast this with Facebook’s approach. Last year it built its own ad reinsertion tech in-house, and its desktop revenue grew by 18 percent quarter over quarter.

Facebook hasn’t released any data on whether the move affected user engagement; however, we’re probably safe to assume it would have reversed the decision if it had scared users off.

While some view the ad reinsertion approach as the more antagonistic option, it’s inherently less intrusive than Funding Choices, because it doesn’t require a user to change their behavior.

b) Publishers must adopt en masse for it to succeed. If you accept the evidence that shows a turn-off-your-blocker-or-pay-up approach results in high bounce rates, there’s an important corollary: If the user has the option to go elsewhere to consume content, most ad block users will choose that option over paying or disabling their blockers.

What’s more, research from one of the major ad blockers last year showed that only 22 percent of its users were willing to pay anything for an ad-free experience. It logically follows that a given publisher who adopts Funding Choices before it’s widespread can expect the majority of its ad blocking audience to bounce.

In other words, on the micro level, it’s disadvantageous for any individual publisher to be an early adopter on this. In fact, it’d be in a publisher’s best interest to hold out until adoption is near-universal.

Granted, if anyone has the reach to achieve universal adoption, it’s Google. But it’s difficult to believe that’s achievable when there’s a clear incentive to being amongst the last to adopt.

c) It has no utility for many publishers. Ad block users might be willing to compromise for a favorite publisher, but most long tail publishers simply don’t have the cachet or premium content to convince users to pay up or change their behavior.

What’s more, Funding Choices is counter-productive for retail publishers, for whom it makes no sense to turn prospective customers away or charge them for the privilege of browsing their wares.

d) It doesn’t solve all the user’s problems. While Chrome’s new ad filtering feature will eliminate some of the experiences that drive users to block ads, this approach does little to address legitimate user concerns around performance and privacy.

Load times will improve as server-to-server integrations become the industry norm, but this still won’t resolve the underlying performance issues that result from packing creatives to the brim with third-party trackers that load from dozens of domains.

Apple’s move to further block or limit third-party tracking within Safari shows it understands something Google doesn’t and will hopefully prompt further innovation around the problem.

e) User blowback is a risk. There’s a very real threat that some users will ditch Chrome if Funding Choices starts to see broad adoption. Whether that would be 2 percent or 20 percent of Chrome’s market share is impossible to know, but if that starts to happen, you could see Google change its game plan to stop the bleeding.

Either way, keep an eye on the latest entrant into the browser market, Brave; It’s in a great position to attract disgruntled Chrome refugees.

What it means for the ad blockers

While Google isn’t doing something as overt as banning ad blocking extensions, It is unmistakably trying to wipe out any existing leverage held by companies like Eyeo, maker of Adblock Plus.

Chrome’s ad filtering aims to make ad blocking unnecessary, and building Funding Choices into the browser is a clear attempt to cut off the ad blockers up-funnel. This new dynamic tips the scales heavily in Google’s favor, but don’t expect the major ad blockers to go quietly into the night.

What it means for the industry

Expect the ad block/anti-ad block space to heat up over the next 12 months. Regardless of how successful Funding Choices is, Google is sending a clear signal to the market that it intends to not only solve the ad blocking issue but also to capitalize on the revenue opportunity it represents.

Its competitors are now under pressure to do the same, or lie down and accept that they’re okay with Google being the gatekeeper to the content consumption experience for the 60 percent or so of the world that uses Chrome to surf the web.

Martin Kratky-Katz is cofounder and CEO at Blockthrough. He’s a third-time startup founder and a recipient of a “Forty Under 40” award.

Top UK publishers are losing $2.6 mil. a year to ad blocking

Industry headlines may have focused on issues such as brand safety and viewability lately, but the threat of ad blocking remains strong, according to publishers at the Association of Online Publishers’ ad-blocking event in London this week.

Over the last year, publishers have worked out their own ways to make up some of the revenues lost by users blocking ads. By aggregating data across some 40 U.K. publishers — AOP members include Bauer, Condé Nast, Dennis, ESI Media, Global, the Guardian and The Telegraph — the AOP estimates that larger U.K. publishers are losing up to £2 million ($2.6 million) a year in ad revenue due to ad blocking, while the median publisher loss is closer to £500,000 ($640,000) a year. On a brighter note, many publishers are recovering substantial sums of around £1 million ($1.3 million) a year, according to AOP member data.

As such, later this year, groups of U.K. publishers within specific verticals — automotive, for instance — intend to run a collective day of action limiting access to ad-block users, similar in effect to the tests run in France.

“Don’t be afraid of limiting access; a user with an ad blocker installed is useless to you anyway,” said Oliver von Wersch, who until two months ago was German publisher Gruner + Jahr Digital’s managing director of growth projects and strategic partnerships. “Not enough players are doing this. It makes sense to get into an active dialogue and limit access; it reduced rates significantly without any sign of bounce rates increasing. You gain traffic which is monetizable.”

Gruner + Jahr has run ad-blocking campaigns for a year across seven of its sites after discovering that on some, around one-fifth of desktop users were blocking ads. On four G+J specialist sites — food and recipe site Essen & Trinken; two interior design magazines, Schöner Wohnen and Living at Home; plus Geo (similar to National Geographic) — it restricted access to ad-block users. The efforts on Essen & Trinken reduced the number of ad-block users by 52 percent; at the other end of the spectrum, the efforts on Schöner Wohnen reduced ad blockers by 23 percent, with no negative effect on reach, according to von Wersch.

In these instances, users were given a choice to either whitelist the site or pay a few euros for a day’s or a week’s access to ad-free articles. In the last year, this micropayment solution has driven just €2,000 (about $2,250) in revenue for G+J. “This option didn’t work at all,” admits von Wersch, echoing micropayment skeptics, “but it makes sense to have two options to make the other one seem more convincing. Thanks to these two options, 99 percent of readers whitelisted; this is pure monetizable inventory, rather than a technical circumvention.”

No one-size-fits-all ad-blocking solution exists. On three other sites, G+J ran messages to ad-block users asking them to whitelist the site, without blocking content. On women’s magazine Brigitte’s site, G+J has A/B tested at least 10 different messages to explain to ad-block users how ads fund its journalism. These tests include different images, with or without a close button in the top right-hand corner of the browser window, red or green buttons and different text. “Testing means you’ll find the best solution to converting users into paying users,” said von Wersch.

For the most part, publishers are still seeing low ad-block rates of under 1 percent on mobile in the U.K. and in Germany, but the potential for this to explode is a growing concern, especially since Google and Apple have announced versions of built-in ad blockers for their browsers. There’s reason to be wary: On the one hand, publishers want to stamp out bad ads; on the other, it gives platforms more control over publishers’ ad revenue.

Varying ad-block statistics add another level of complexity to assessing the state of ad blocking, as most third-party companies use different methodologies to measure it. For instance, eMarketer has recently estimated that mobile ad blocking is much higher than publishers see on their own sites. The advice is to measure your own: In Germany, a group of publishers aggregate and anonymize their ad-blocking levels, and release the findings every three months. “It brings transparency to the industry,” said von Wersch.

The post Top UK publishers are losing $2.6 mil. a year to ad blocking appeared first on Digiday.

The Financial Times toughens its stance against ad blockers

After running ad-blocking experiments last July to a select group, the Financial Times has blocked content for all registered users with ad blockers installed.

As of this week, registered users — those who have provided their email address in exchange for a number of free articles a month, but haven’t shared any payment details — are hit with a pop-up asking them to whitelist, then refresh their browsers to continue reading.

The pop-up message links to a webpage showing readers how to add the FT to their ad blocker whitelist, with added commentary on what ad blocking is, and the FT’s advertising policy.

The FT is blocking content from ad-block users

Craig Bannister, senior product manager at the FT, said this is an extension of the four-week experiment the FT ran last July to a sample of 15,000. The FT ran three types of messages to 50 percent of the 30,000 registered users who also block ads, encouraging them to whitelist the site. These included offering unrestricted access to the content with a polite message; access to the content but with some article text missing; and a blanket ban on the content altogether.

As reported after the trials — and as other publishers have also discovered — blocking the content had the biggest impact, with 69 percent of people whitelisting the site when faced with the roadblock. Still, 40 percent of those who had full access to the content whitelisted the FT.

The FT tested the levels of engagement with its content before and after people added the site to a whitelist and saw no drop off in things like dwell time or numbers of articles read, although it wouldn’t share exact details.

“The content consumption after the whitelist was not affected, so we’re confident from rolling this out further this week that we’re likely to see those kind of results,” said Bannister, adding that it was too soon to see the impact of implementing the test more widely. “It didn’t negatively impact readers’ relationship with our content; that’s the most important thing.” At this stage, the FT is not exploring any tests with paying subscribers.

The experiment is running only on desktop, where the publisher said 18 percent of page views are ad blocked. The FT is also keeping track of ad blocking on mobile, where 2 percent of page views are ad blocked.

Advertising accounts for 40 percent of total revenue for the FT, the remaining 60 percent coming from subscriptions and events. (The FT doesn’t split print from digital revenue.) As such, ad blocking is not as much of an issue for it as for other publishers that rely solely on advertising for revenue. Even so, for most publishers, ad blocking remains an industry-wide concern.

The post The Financial Times toughens its stance against ad blockers appeared first on Digiday.

Princeton’s Ad-Blocking Superweapon May Put an End to the Ad-Blocking Arms Race

A team of Princeton and Stanford University researchers has fundamentally reinvented how ad-blocking works, in an attempt to put an end to the advertising versus ad-blocking arms race. The ad blocker they’ve created is lightweight, evaded anti ad-blocking scripts on 50 out of the 50 websites it was tested on, and can block Facebook ads that were previously unblockable writes Jason Koebler.

Read full article

From nasty to nice: how adblockers are trying to pivot

Controversial software was branded enemy of publishers, but adblocker developers are reassessing their relationships

“…Facebook and Google’s share of digital advertising has continued to rocket, even as every other provider has flatlined. Meanwhile, market penetration of adblockers has plateaued (Britain’s IAB estimates 22% of visitors block ads, the same as this time last year). And as well as fighting back technologically, some sites have started appealing to the morality of visitors, pointing out that blocking adverts deprives publishers of revenue, and requesting adblocking readers whitelist their domains.

It’s not just publishers who have started to push themselves as the moral option, however. Developers of adblockers have been reassessing their own relationship to publishing, and bringing out products intended to ameliorate for the loss of revenue site owners experience from adblocking….”

Read full story by Alex Hern


The Atlantic is now telling ad blockers to whitelist or pay up

The Atlantic is toughening its stance toward ad blockers.

Starting April 10, the news and culture publisher will require people using ad-blocking software to pay $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year for an ad-free version or turn off their ad blockers and view an ad-supported version of the site. The Atlantic planned the move to follow its converting the site to https. Publishers have been undertaking that process to provide secure connections for visitors and in anticipation of Google giving preference to https sites in its search results.

The Atlantic has been preparing ad blockers for this move since October, when it offered that choice in a message window. It was a soft wall, though, as ad blockers could continue visiting the site for free if they closed the window. Now, that escape hatch is going away.

Lately, publishers have been taking the brute-force approach to ad blockers or asking readers to pay up to help support the heavy cost of digital media. This move by the Atlantic isn’t so much geared toward getting readers to pay — just half of 1 percent of the ad blockers opted to pay up since October, and The Atlantic is pushing subscriptions to its magazine in other ways.

Slate editor-in-chief Julia Turner last week wrote a piece on the site asking readers to whitelist the site, while revealing it lost $1.5 million to $2 million from ad blocking. Slate does not block ad blockers from accessing content, however. The Atlantic estimates that ad blocking cost it $3.4 million in 2016.

Ten to 12 percent of visitors to The Atlantic have ad blockers installed. And while the percentage of people ad blocking has leveled off, it’s not likely to go away long-term, given that young people are more likely to ad block.

“To me, starting the conversation and helping them understand the value exchange is important,” said Kim Lau, svp of digital and head of business development at the Atlantic. “We have to start that conversation about how we make our money. We need people to understand there is a real dependency on advertising. We have journalists we need to continue to pay to do great journalism that’s critical at this time.”

The Atlantic fully expects 60 percent of those ad blockers to abandon the site when presented with the message. There’s some anxiety about that. But as Lau sees it, those people aren’t contributing financially to the site, so losing them won’t have a big financial impact anyway.

The publication has been taking on ad blockers for more than a year, starting with messages requesting they whitelist the site. Some publishers have circumvented ad blockers and served ads to those people anyway, but The Atlantic didn’t go that route, lest it upset people who already expressed a clear preference not to see ads.

How publishers communicate to ad blockers has proved to make a big difference in their success in getting them to whitelist a site. Making sure the language was right was the biggest issue for The Atlantic for the past several months. A lot of people didn’t realize they had multiple ad blockers installed or didn’t understand how to whitelist the site, Lau said.

The post The Atlantic is now telling ad blockers to whitelist or pay up appeared first on Digiday.

The best way to beat ad blockers? Let them win

That’s right. They are victorious. Shelve those lawsuits. It’s the only decision that makes sense, really. And if you’re expecting misdirection or a Swiftian modest proposal here, you will not find it. Ad blockers were engineered to solve what many perceived as a problem — lack of value in display ads relative to their nuisance and risk. And to be honest, digital publishers have only themselves to blame.

I’m tired of reading posts like “7 possible ways for publishers to deal with adblockers.” They always dance around the problem — publishers are rife with lousy ads for products you’d never buy. The solution, if there is one, is to understand and accept why ad blockers exist and, in turn, co-exist with their existence.

Before I begin, it’s important to limit my scope. I’m neither endorsing nor rejecting strategies like paywalls, sponsorships, brand content, micropayments, video ads etc. Those all may have a role in a comprehensive business strategy. I’m focusing solely on ad block-vulnerable display ads for this discussion.

Sites, and to a lesser degree, apps, have been larded up with mobile-toxic ads, crafted with little care to shill merchandise that a brick-and-mortar retailer would embarrassingly keep in a back room behind a black curtain. IAB standard internet display ads like banners have proven ineffective, especially on mobile.

Even as audiences have transitioned to smaller screens, agencies and reps have clung to old advertising philosophies. This has created user experiences ranging from awkward to terrible. There’s the data-hogging slow-to-load interstitial takeover ads, replete with a high degree of difficultly to close.

But that’s just the first onslaught. Once you get past those, this is the UX that awaits beneath. I count 9 words from the original article on an iPhone 5 screen.

Next is a comparative embarrassment of text riches, although you do have to navigate around two ads on that same 1136px by 640px screen.

And navigating around is exactly what people are doing.

According to benchmark data from Google’s DoubleClick, traditional non-native display ads saw an average click-through rate of 0.08%. Let that sink in. Less than one-tenth of a percent. Just how do you sell that to a client? “Don’t worry, one in every 1,250 will click on it — well, less those inevitable accidental ones.”

Will Federman is right. The click economy is stone dead.

That’s why many publishers are resorting to desperate measures to buttress revenue. Super-saturating story-level pages with ad positions, serving non-viewable display ads that load off-screen, carpet-bombing articles with content marketing widgets and trackers, and autoplaying pre-roll video ads. These methods respect neither the advertiser nor your reader/viewer.

And let’s not forget about the $7.2 billion bot impression crisis that’s undermining the publishing industry. Even TV ads are looking good comparatively.

Given increasing fraud and inventory, it’s not surprising that the price of programmatic ads continues to plummet. The average display CPM (cost per thousand of impressions) for sports, politics and entertainment content runs $1.27 to $1.48. That’s not custom work or native ads; just raw tonnage. And it’s not making anyone rich. Well, almost anybody. In the first quarter of 2016, 85 cents of every new dollar spent on online ads will go to Google or Facebook, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak.

In summary, publishers are waging a war for survival over 15 percent of the digital ad buy using a tool (display ads) that has diminishing efficacy and margins and is considered unpopular, bloated and invasive.

And readers/viewers recognize this. The Media Insight Project identified the top three factors that affect digital news experience as: ad placement, load speed and mobile-friendliness.

Naturally, smart people found solutions to parts of this problem. One innovation is mobile-first publishing platforms from three of Emily Bell’s “four horsemen of the apocalypse” — Google, Facebook and Apple. Google’s open-source AMP project, Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News offer clean and lean user experiences and rev share opportunities. Page loads are shockingly quick. But these also sever the ties between reader and publisher, ties already somewhat frayed by social discovery of news and atomization of content. And it’s the people who already have 85 percent of the revenue.

But no innovation has hit the digital adverting landscape as hard as the rise of ad blockers. PageFair said that software to block online ads hit 200 million worldwide users in mid-2015, with 45 million in the U.S. alone. Popular solutions include AdBlock Plus, Ghostery and Crystal. ABP alone is reportedly active on 100 million devices. And these apps will cost publishers $12 billion by 2020. Given everything we’ve seen — low value to the consumer paired with a high nuisance factor — who should be surprised? It was self defense; readers/viewers were just protecting their data plans and their dignity.

Why were they created? The evolution is basically a straight path. Narrowing margins prompted a few bad UX decisions (add a tracker, a content marketing widget). Margins narrow further; more bad UX decisions are layered and the problem compounded (10 ads on page; autoplay sound). Faced with this, developers created ad blocking apps to manage concerns that they publishers created. Welcome to today.

But what if the publisher — not a third party like Apple or ADP— addressed the problem created by, well, the publisher?

What I propose is that publishers create (or use) an ultra-light mobile environment where your site/app displays only high-quality, high-value ads that users would actually want to see — the Sunday coupons of 2016. You know, that towering stack of inserts that more than paid for the cost of the paper in 2007. People by the millions would get the Sunday broadsheet just for those coupons. What if digital display ads had that value? Ad blockers? They’d be disabled by choice.

My plan calls for a four-part strategy anchored by rethinking technology, design and value. In short, basically just giving a damn about the advertising experience.

1. Mobile-first approach

The next generation of digital ads must be built mobile out not desktop in. Your customers are mostly on devices that are interconnected to other devices; stop selling homepage takeover ads.

First, being mobile first will allow geotargeting via NFC, beacon or GPS. Proximity could help determine which ads to serve and when. This also could allow integration with other apps. If enabled, plot directions on Google Maps, put event info on your Outlook calendar, Kik details to a friend. Use these advantages to create a simple yet complete experience.

2. A clear value proposition

Every ad you publish should have some form of consumer value, the more direct the better. Kohl’s. Chipotle. Macy’s. Starbucks. McDonald’s. Kraft. Nike. Sara Lee. Event tickets. Pepsi. If I knew I could get 50 cents off my morning Peet’s large coffee or $5 off shoes, I may never disable an ad again. Again, the Sunday coupon approach every day.

Of course I might have just purchased coffee, so you’d need a platform to save the coupon to a secure keychain of sorts. See an ad you like, click it to save it, and later redeem it.

But why only offer static coupons? Publishers crave loyal readers who frequently visit rather than one-off visits driven by social. So rather than a set value on the digital coupon, why not use a progressive model with a cap? My Peet’s coupon could grow to $1 if I visited and activated the ad for four consecutive days. Of course, it could be redeemed at any time as well. Make sure the experience both encourages and rewards frequency.

And of course the most valuable part of these transactions — saving and redeeming — is the profile you start to build of individuals users. You not only know that user 201,950 visited these pages over his or her 92 second visit, but now you also know what offers got attention, were saved and were eventually redeemed. This allows you to better refine your messages (and offer).

3. Completely re-imagine display ads

So what would a display ad 2.0 look like? I find a lot of inspiration in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point,” especially the anecdote of marketing guru Lester Wunderman. In truth, nothing about today’s online ads measure up to his successful Colombia House “gold box” music club campaign. Is there a clear call to action? Are transactions through display ads frictionless? Are those ads practical and personal? Is the message sticky (memorable)?

What’s the call to action on the ad below? How is value communicated? The typography is small and hard to read. The “We See You” takeaway is fairly unclear — unless they just activated your laptop’s camera. It includes too little info to be useful and memorable.

Conversely, this ad is selling everything. Loudly. You get that there’s a sale, but it’s fairly impossible to determine on what. It’s just a full-on visual assault.

Or this.

All those ads pretty much deserve to be blocked. But in our model, ads will be designed to be clear and concise, putting the offer front and center.

Given the platform is mobile, there also should be some basic design rules, too. Ads should never be more than half your screen. Never leave a user wondering if a story is actually over, like those earlier examples. No ad should ever take you off site initially. The first click only expands the ad, offering swipe functionality for other features. Online publishers have trained a generation of readers/viewers to fear clicking on ads because you never know what malware-infested Petri dish to which you’re being re-directed.

So what’s a good experience? This is a start, although the design is meh.

This dude is playing June 2. You can buy a ticket. Simple and direct. Might be nice to hear his big hit. Expand and swipe. Maybe a deal on a concert T-shirt? Click and save. Maybe it also could check your calendar to see if you’re busy, or give you a map to the venue. Or even link to that Q&A your music critic just did with him. Ideally we might know if you personally like the artist based on iTunes or Spotify. But at least this is closer.

Maybe for that hot new movie you can expand an ad to watch a trailer, find a theater nearby, read a review and buy tickets. You see the product, you’re given necessary information even value in the form of a trailer, and then you can take frictionless action.

This kind of creation process and technology are pretty much the antithesis of backfilling your available inventory with nameless third-party programmatic ads. You care about the UX of your site. You care about the quality of your content. Isn’t it time to extend the same common-sense standards to your ads?

4. Better align ads with content … and eventually your users

Most publishing companies generally try to put travel ads with travel content and theatre ads with theatre content. But there’s insufficient nuance in that approach. Geography might play a role in a transaction. Time of day or day of week. A drink special ad isn’t just for entertainment news if it’s offered to a Wrigleyville bar, on sports content after a Cubs game to people within the GPS footprint of Wrigley Field. Or if you found a particular reader consistently saves and redeems coupons for a lunch special near his or her work regardless of what section the content is on. Time and proximity are key here. Does your ad serving software support this?

To accomplish this model you need a far more robust underlayment of ad types and categories. Sure, it may just be as simple as an ad for White Sox merchendise in a White Sox story, but it’s not that direct all the time.

I’m not suggesting most of this will be easy. In fact, it will be hard if not impossible, I freely admit. We’re talking new tech, new relationships and in-house design. It’s not ripping off a band-aid. It’s ripping a cast off while your leg’s still broken. But the business side of the internet is wounded and healing wrong. Publishers need to re-break the bone and reset it. And soon. Because we know the path we’re on.

Am I suggesting you strip every third-party or ill-designed ad off your site tomorrow? No, not yet. But it’s imperative to start building a future without them and their waning revenue. Because here’s the spoiler — as bad as it is now, it will only get worse. One recent survey suggests almost half the people who didn’t use ad blockers only did so because weren’t aware of them. Not surprisingly, ad blocker usage in the U.S. is expected to double by 2020. We’re on the cusp of mass public acceptance.

You have 43 months. Innovate or die.

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The best way to beat ad blockers? Let them win was originally published in The Agency on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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