Small Publishers Are Most Affected by Ad Blockers, Says IAB

ClickZ at Advertising WeekAd blockers hurt small publishers most of all, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Because ad blocking has been a hot topic in the industry lately, the IAB added a last-minute session to the IAB MIXX agenda entitled, “The Economic Impact of Ad Blocking: Exploring the Human Costs of an Industry Problem.” The IAB strongly opposes ad blocking, calling it a threat to the open Internet we’ve grown accustomed to and the diversity of content.

“Ad blockers are holding small publishers’ sites and their livelihoods hostage,” said Scott Cunningham, senior vice president of the IAB and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab, a consortium that aims to help companies implement industry standards and solutions. “Ad blocking has become an unwelcome gatekeeper to their sites and stifles their ability to do business.”

Cunningham pointed out that many users don’t see the big picture. They may find ads annoying, but they also may not realize that ads fund the Internet.

“The user-experience choice has always been free content. Whether or not we’re walking down the path with a closed, walled-garden environment, we need to sustain the open-ended Web for small publishers. That supports diversity of content more than anything,” said Cunningham.

According to research from Adobe and PageFair, there are 41 percent more ad blocking software users than there were last year, which has led to a loss of $21.8 billion in revenue. Sandy Pelland, chief executive and founder of MomLifeTV, a lifestyle network website for moms, pointed out that many people download ad blockers because of advertisers’ actions. She cites repetition and poor design as two examples of common and avoidable pain points.

“Consumers are tired of seeing the same ad over and over again,” Pelland says. “If I see a beautiful dress, I don’t want to visit 10 sites and see that same dress over and over again.”

Like the other speakers, Rich Jaworski, who founded with his wife, is strongly affected by ad blocking. He estimates that 10 percent of his desktop site is blocked.

Piggybacking on Pelland’s point, Jaworski said that despite the fact that he makes his living from advertising, he’s often tempted to download ad blockers himself when he goes on other sites and sees excessive advertising. He noted the irony of reading an article about how much people hate self-starting videos on a site that leveraged this precise marketing tactic.

“That’s the kind of thing we need to tone down, in my opinion,” said Jaworski. “Ad blocking is kind of like anybody else attacking my business, so they can have a piece of the pie. We need to remove their model by removing the need for their product.”

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