IAB: “Ad-Blocking Is Highway Robbery”

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Adweek reports: “Scott Cunningham, SVP at the Interactive Advertising Bureau and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab, told Adweek after a press conference that he’s been privy to ad-blocking data from major publishers that have recently begun using software that detects ad blocking. Pressed to characterize what the data means for advertisers, he declined further comment, but it’s hard to imagine such stats contain good news for people who depend on digital-media paychecks.

“We don’t want to see this type of highway robbery,” Cunningham said during an ad-blocking session at the annual IAB Mixx Conference. “We’d like [ad blockers] to play fair.”

Ad-blocking is ever more of a threat to the Internet since the release of Apple’s IOS9, the mobile operating system that lets developers for the first time create ad blockers for the iPhone. Publishers are pushing back with software to detect ad blockers and sometimes work around them. “There’s a war between engineers,” said Cunningham.

IAB is increasing its campaign to make people understand that ad-blocking is basically theft of services and content. It advises publishers to:

* Educate viewers about how ad blocking could hurt their online experience by blocking out useful content. The Washington Post and Hulu are two media companies already putting that idea into practice.

* Adopt IAB developed Web code that can help small publishers detect ad-blocking visitors. “We believe this script will actually help enable them in their fight just by enabling their ability to detect,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham also said IAB is also considering legal recourse against ad blockers, though that may not be effective. A German court reportedly ruled in favor or Adblock Plus in a case versus publisher Axel Springer (which just bought Business Insider).

There is a bit of good news for publishers on the ad-blocking front: Marketing Land reports that ad-blocking apps for IOS9 are declining in popularity. But just sitting around isn’t enough. IAB knows that and now it’s up to the rest of the online advertising community to unite and fight this scourge.

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