Scary-Not Scary: What Ad Blocking Technology Should Mean to Social Media Marketers

When Apple released iOS9 in September, it was the first time that the mobile platform allowed ad blocking technology. The very next day, ad blocking apps were at the top of the download charts. Many marketers foresaw doom for advertising even though ad blocking has been around for some time.

Social media marketers, content marketers, and influencer marketing folks used the rise of ad blocking as a way to celebrate that they were mostly in the clear. I personally think it’s a little more complicated.

Scary: Hundreds of Millions Already Use Ad Blockers

Various research studies exist, but Page Fair estimated that the number of people using ad blocking increased from 54 million in 2013 to 121 million in 2014. AdBlock Plus, however, says they’ve had 400 million downloads of their desktop software alone. Both of these numbers are before iOS9 came out.

Scary: Ad Blockers Can Block Any Content

Any content on a web page can be blocked by ad blockers. Even YouTube pre-rolls are currently blocked by many blockers. That means there is little technical limitation to stopping content that is displayed near #ad or #sponsored. Influencer marketing isn’t in the clear.

Not Scary: Ad Blockers Can’t Be Too Restrictive

Imagine a web page riddled with holes that seem like government censors stripping out information. As soon as you feel like you’re missing good content, that ad blocker will be adjusted or removed.

Not Scary: Budgets Could Migrate Away from Traditional Ads

Well, not scary for us, although the industry estimates it will lose $22 billion in ad revenue from blockers. Already, social media marketing is getting billions in dollars. And even traditional ads that aren’t blocked are problematic in terms of not being viewable, being viewed by bots, or being fraudulent. A logical conclusion would be to put more money into content and social media in order to ensure that views are genuine.

Not Scary: Publishers Will Fight Back

Just this week, Yahoo has started blocking some folks from viewing their email if they are using a browser with an ad blocking technology installed. That would not be difficult for other publishers of great content, like The New York Times, to do as well. Pretty soon, using an ad blocker would be more trouble than it’s worth.

yahoo blocking

In the end, the advertising industry today is deeply concerned about blocking, as they should be. And social media marketers who increasingly rely on paid methods shouldn’t feel free from worrying about it, too. But there are a lot of acts left to play out in this drama. Mark this down as an issue to keep an eye on.

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