Image: Thomas Gianfrancesco/Flickr
The Interactive Advertising Bureau is ready to make a deal with people who use ad-blockers.
The IAB on Monday morning released its latest recommendations for online publishers who are struggling with ad-blocking software like Adblock Plus. The online advertising organization wants publishers to propose a “DEAL” to people who visit their websites with ad-blocking enabled.
Here, DEAL means:
Detect ad-blocking, “in order to initiate a conversation”
Explain the “value exchange that advertising enables”
Ask for “changed behavior,” that, to disable the ad-blocker, to maintain an “equitable exchange”
Lift restrictions or Limit access in response to “consumer choice”
So what’s the story here? In short, the online advertising industry has been tying itself in knots over the past few years over the rise of ad-blockers like AdBlock Plus, uBlock Origin, and Ghostery. Business really picked up last fall, however, following the release of iOS 9, which gave users the ability to install software known as content blockers that, among other tricks, could block ads from loading in Safari. These content blockers proved immensely popular at launch, and topped the App Store charts shortly after the release of iOS 9.
Naturally, an inexorable rise in the use of ad-blockers is problematic if you’re a publisher dependent upon ad revenue. That’s why we’re now seeing the development of all sorts of tools, like new web browser Brave, to compensate publishers in a world filled with ad-blockers.
DEAL, then, is the first organized, public-facing proposed solution proposed by online advertisers in response to the rise of ad-blockers. The proposal boils down to educating users that advertising helps fund many of their favorite websites, and that using ad-blockers is a quick way to hurt those same websites.
A number of publishers had already implemented a kind of proto DEAL with their readers: Wirednow makes visitors disable their ad-blocker, while The Guardiandisplays a banner along the top of the page kindly asking visitors to disable their ad-blocker.
One concern not addressed anywhere in the IAB’s manifesto is the issue of malware, or ads secretly laced with malware that are triggered upon viewing the ad. One report published in August 2015 noted a 325 percent increase in incidents of malvertising from June 2014 until February 2015. Blocking online ads merely because you don’t want to see them is one thing, but blocking them because you’re concerned about the welfare of your computer is harder to refute.