LOS ANGELES — A battle is underway in the browsers of consumers, many of whom are blocking ads and as a result stifling the profits of advertisers and publishers alike — and now these companies are fighting back.
Now Facebook is poised to force ads to appear for all desktop visitors by taking measures to counter the use of ad-blocking software. The social media giant will reportedly do this by changing the way it shows its ads to make them much harder for ad blockers to hide.
Facebook Vice President Andrew Bosworth told The Wall Street Journal that Facebook is ad supported and strives to integrate creatives into its content.
“Ads are a part of the Facebook experience,” Bosworth said. “They’re not a tack on.”
It is a problem that is hard to overestimate and a symptom of the evolution of the culture of free to not only refuse to pay for content but to shun ads that are shown as an alternative means of compensating content creators and publishers.
For its part, Facebook is not currently pursuing ad-blocking on mobile devices, which reportedly account for the bulk of the site’s usage (and 84 percent of its ad revenue), but focusing on desktop users instead.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that 26 percent of U.S. internet users have ad-blocking tools enabled on their desktops.
And although desktop use is rapidly declining, the Wall Street Journal article notes that “[desktop ad-blocking] technology poses enough of a threat that Facebook added it as separate risk factor in its annual securities filing this year.”
Critics charge Facebook with thwarting efforts to have the internet experience they choose, but the company notes that it offers options for users to control the ads they see.
Facebook is not the only company to face revenue losses from ad blockers, however, with adult sites battling the same problem.
Fortunately, the industry is responding with its own anti-block initiatives and by raising awareness on industry forums such as XBIZ.net, where a discussion is currently addressing the issue of ad blockers, as well as Facebook's response.
For example, ad network ExoClick offers a solution through NeverBlock.com that can help both advertisers and publishers combat ad blockers, while TrafficHaus offers ReviveAds.com — pointing to what is sure to be an ongoing arms race between freeloaders and media business owners and promoters.