Internet ad blocking versus an editor

Direct publications mean having a privileged vantage point from which detect changes in applications and technologies by the most advanced Internet users.

Sometimes novelty stays in these “early adopters” and does not reach the general public, as happened with RSS readers; sometimes yes it does as over the phone as a navigation tool or with the use of Twitter and Facebook. With ad blockers when we manage Weblogs SL we talked the last few years with industry colleagues warning of what was coming, we are the most often dispatched a condescending gesture that will happen only to you because you have a hearing very technical.

However, iOS 9 has arrived and there is growing a sense of turning point, the moment of truth for the industry. Whether we like it more or less when Apple moves tab is pay attention, and blocking content now allows carries blocking publicize the first priority for media groups: this is not going to be in that 10% of users advanced, it will be a growing, inescapable phenomenon and perhaps a comparable to Napster impact on music for the media market and online advertising.

Internet ad blocking versus an editorApple doing to Google, what Google to Microsoft

Starting with the last chapter of this story, it is interesting to try to understand the movement of Apple allowing ad blocking iOS. My impression is that it is an attempt to get emulates what at the time Google articulated against Microsoft, but this time directed to the search engine company: force it to change its business model.

Android mobile operating system for any manufacturer, repeating what Windows is for the desktop, without charge license; Google Apps as a platform free office for the individual user, at a low price for corporations. Google has failed to break the business of Microsoft, of course, but he has cut a step in the mobile world in which to Redmond has been impossible so far to repeat the success that keeps computers.

The movement Apple has a similar pattern. By adding some context: across the network in August WeblogsSL got more than 40 million unique users, more than half our sites visited from a mobile phone. Living to advertise on the web, either through Adwords, either because Google owns the leading technology platform for distributing ads as DoubleClick, if this is also locked in smartphones, Google is not a technical problem, but one of the business model.

Although Google has done its homework – and has done very well – to try to remove intermediaries, it has not reached 2016 free of this danger. If we analyze some of their movements in the last decade, there has been a tremendous career to remove intermediaries: Chrome so that the user does not come through the browser of another, Android for not with the operating system of a third party and to the purchase of Motorola, the Nexus range, its flirtation as ISP, Chromebooks and even what to take a router can be interpreted that way.

If anything Apple has a position of power, intermediary, quite interesting: a market share very high in the high range in key markets (just the most interesting public as an advertising target), with the largest mobile web traffic segmented by manufacturer and a closed platform on which exercises control unmatched in the history of computing. While the iPhone work – and is here to stay – Google will be intermediated.

But beyond the photo of the moment, history comes adblockers long as the debate about its appropriateness, justification, and impact.

The non-blocking debate on advertising

There is an attempt to the discussion on ethics in the use of blockers, discussion that I think is sterile but gives for at least fill conversations on Twitter and articles in the press.

The point is that some editors there is a sort of break in the tacit agreement between audience and environment: free content in exchange for that is accompanied by ads. According to this view the user who does not conform to the advertising medium pressure or their formats has no easy solution and go to another visit. This position usually accompanied with the claim that the blockade kills advertising revenue of the media – small, medium and large – and thus leads to bankruptcy and subsequent dismantling.

Somehow the “if you do not like my advertising does not come and go to another environment with other ads” is becoming the new “if you do not fit the price of my film or my record, go and buy another, but not download it for free.”

It will not work because from the other side there is a different ethical framework – in this back to help manage and if something has this situation is that the power position is on the user side. The reasons from the ad blocker are that web advertising is rubbish, which has been abused to the point of ruin the experience, which also ad networks and follows the navigation and guilt ad blocking has the industry.

In fact, although ad blockers allow a white list of sites that show you stop advertising, there are several points where this does not save media attempting to moderate the pressure of ads. On the one hand, someone configures these tools is the exception, not the norm; on the other there is always a benefit in the form of less downloading data and navigation lighter. To this must be added that most of the time there is no agreement that is tolerable advertising: when I have had some conversations with its idea was “small squares that do not disturb”.

If the tolerable advertising is not shocked I fear that a “no solution” the new agreement between media and users that some propose. In Weblogs SL also we took a few months with a pilot: show users blockers a request that we introduce in their whitelist.

It has not worked for us at the moment. There may be a portion of users who do not master the tool to configure once installed, also the number of users who introduces us as an exception is less than the new with adblock (usually arrive mail messages, twitter and in comments) and therefore the use of them continues to grow in our network.

Another reason is that there is also this user profile see too lax limits of our advertising: do not use pop-ups, ads in interstitial format or anything with pre-activated sound (sometimes seeps through an ad network some of this, but as I detect cut it). Yes, sometimes we integrate special customizations background and large formats with a strong impact, and we have a mobile advertising pressure well below what is customary in the industry.

The result of this equation is that we have a rate blocker use high technology themed ads (30% desktop) and low in the rest, although growing.

There is a debate I would love to have with the rest of the industry, journalists, advertisers and, above all, the community of our sites. If you were the editor of the media what would you do?

Once contrasted to ask please be included in whitelisting by the user works little, there are several next steps to consider. On one side is the door to negotiate with Adblock Plus, the most popular desktop, I do not know if in a moment of genius or ingenuity has been postulated as the “conciliator” between parties (read, you want to charge for certifying and enter to their white) lists, but aims to be an expensive day out for older only.

There are ways starting to be aggressive and build a technological war. The movement of the Washington Post to block who comes with ad blocker and invite you to subscribe to your mailing list if you want to continue reading your content has been much discussed, although we had more aggressive moves such as a newspaper that came to completely prevent access.

The technological war, I suspect, is not going to win. What runs on the user side who has all power is the user, albeit with some perspective for these editors is not that no one can block ads but it is a difficult experience, which requires effort and knowledge and therefore it may contain 5% of advanced users.

Some also have started a judicial process as is the case of Axel Springer in Germany, who has played in bone. This way is much longer for those who intend entails work “lobby” to get legislate against blockers and if we look at movements like the canon AEDE, the result is often ineffective and a very weak ideological base and generates strong opposition.

It is for the latter so I do not think technology or judicial zing the subject has a solution. Part of what we need as a medium is a community around you feels part of the project, heard and respected and that the relationship between them and the medium is not grouper is the provider but get articulate a more emotional side.

Expel the audience that blocks ads, as long as it remains technically possible, means taking the loss of certain audience and influence and side effects: these users will no longer share your articles and if you buy did not integrate into the site, nor they will do. Even so my bet is that the plan for this year 2015 – 2016 will rotate between trying to prevent media access or change the experience to whoever comes with ad blocker : you full article links to referrals or “follow me on Facebook “to at least try to monetize these visits.

Online media within five years

Lastly is something between our obligations, our analysis of the sector where we believe we can be in five years? What is the possible future for an industry “post blocking advertising”? I see several possible scenarios that will have to track and some, of course, we like more than others.

There will be an increase in “native advertising” in the media. Something we are pioneers: the presence of brands in the media will increasingly be through content, stories, and videos … not so much through banners. In this in Weblogs SL we have spent years moving a lot, also trying to lay the foundation to fit our editorial culture always marked as brand advertising to be transparent and trying to build content with an interest to the audience and are not exclusively advertising .

There will be more integration for purchases referred to in the media. As in section bargains or integration, we do on some items. These changes in advertising, in any case, are not a solution to replace the current advertising: when an ad becomes content has many more costs to the environment, many advertisers still do not buy that format and income from referrals are still far from approach generating means advertising “display”.

We’ll go to a more centralized internet. It is no coincidence that the movement of Apple with blocking content is accompanied by the appearance of Apple News: if you’re a medium can be watching as advertising on your mobile web will go down yet offer you shelter in my platform ads cannot be blocked and incidentally commissioned by it.

This lid is also Facebook, whose movement towards the media leave all content within the social network rather than provide links to their web pages have the same centralizing character: in its implementation will not be ad blocking worth. Snapchat or Instagram also have ballots in this battle under the same pattern: control experience, commission business.

There is an attempt of third way by Google and Twitter of blurred time and imprecise, but does not seem to change the picture: if you lose the web open and decentralized, lost Google who failed to make Google Plus a success (and that this It has a very powerful reason to reconsider buying Twitter or Snapchat).

This centralization can have more effect than most expect. It is doubtful that Apple, Facebook or Snapchat are interested in reaching agreements with thousands of media or experience on its platform put all equal as in the web: there will be a San Mateo Indeed, who else has more will be given, who is bigger will be more interesting for them and may negotiate. Still not kill hope for young actors because in fact there is a centralized platform in which many are finding their place as creators and media: YouTube.

Charging for content, if you have always had defense attorneys in the sector, now they will attend and listen more: put a padlock and they can read who pay or some model of membership payment to a club where there are a fee and privileges as access to the content and no advertising. So far I have thought that even if you are the best online through a category have very difficult to charge if there is one free side and is 70% good. With ad blockers, we can find that other not as good as you and you run out of the free business model and that paying for content are your best ally in the nuncios blocker.

I do not think these ad blockers is measles, something that touches us go and we’ll be staying as before if there is a change in the way users adopt them. I think we will force everyone to change and can decrease the media business significantly if we are not enough to move: the advertising money can move quickly to technological platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Apple, the barrier input will rise (less chance for new and small), the business of the large lower (new stake of the media crisis that never ends) and that of “we shall cast less” is not a business model that fix. Yes, it reacts and articulates new sources of income as touches every industry is hit by a technological change.

I tried not to get moralistic, not end with an “every time you block our advertising dies an editor” because, although in the long run I think it is inherently harmful (ads have paid an explosion unparalleled content and services for free, from Hotmail to Gmail from Google to have a thousand means at our disposal without paying for them), staff and when incentive is what is going to impose: I surf better so I do not use it as an individual is not going to change the photo. As an editor I would add that I hope I’m wrong.