Is ad blocking driving more sophisticated browsers?

Written by on April 21, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Businessman holding a hologram with smartphone applications with matrix on the backgroundIt started with an innocent suggestion. Why not try Air France? In response I flipped open the browser, looked at flights, considered the length of stop overs, weighed prices and after possibly five minutes on the site, rejected the idea.

Ever since, Air France adverts appear on everything I do. Scrolling numbly through Facebook, behold, an Air France advert. Researching a story on a site I have never visited before, Air France.

When I decided against Air France – for one particular journey – it did not put me off Air France. But seeing endless adverts for them, wherever I turn, is certainly starting to.

I am not alone. A new survey from Accenture focuses a spotlight on this very real issue for the publishing and advertising industries.

The global survey among an impressive 28,000 consumers found that just over 60 percent of customers are aware of techniques for blocking adverts. Over 40 percent are prepared to pay to have them removed. Interestingly, the preparedness to pay for their removal is greater in emerging economies than in mature markets.

Meanwhile, the industry is still trying to persuade itself that it is good at personalisation and targeting customers with relevant adverts. And it is kidding itself.

Whilst it is hard to support the position of some ad blockers, who seem to feel they are best placed to be judge and jury on which adverts make it through their net, the fact is that, for them, business is good.

One thing that this battle is driving is a new wave of more sophisticated browsers, where customers can control their data better. We have seen the launch of Brave, whose founder is being sued for his ‘judge and jury’ approach. We also see the rise of browser controlling products such as RedMorph (ever wondered how many sites you actually visit when you think you just visited four – scary). And, most recently, one of the founders of browser Opera, Jon von Tetzchner, has launched Vivaldi.

He now sees the browser market reversing direction, “A few years ago everyone started simplifying their browsers and they removed many of the features that the so-called power users wanted. This is the segment we are targeting”, von Tetzchner said.

He only needs five million regular customers and he is in the money, and it may well be that his move is right on the money.

It is difficult to see how this fight will pan out. Right now, the publishers and advertisers are trying to use force and a twist on blackmail. They either say ‘remove the ad blocking software’ or ‘read this advert’ otherwise you cannot access our site. As the survey’s author Gavin Mann says, “there’s no point in following the music industry’s failed attempts at thwarting piracy. It’s futile to focus all efforts on trying to outsmart ever-evolving ad-blocking technologies..”

His advice is for publishers and advertisers to invest in getting the personalisation and targeting right, so that customers actually want to watch the adverts that await them.

And that might further fuel the rise of more sophisticated browsers.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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