Ad Blocking and The PR Ripple Effect
A careful examination of some of the largest stories circling around most technophile circles in the past couple of weeks reveals both cheers and jeers around the idea of ad blocking. It’s not that ad blocking is new — it’s been around for years, but it honestly hasn’t been all that exciting … until now.
Apple’s new content-blocking extensions available in the new iOS upgrade has pushed the technology back to the media surface faster than most publicists respond to a HARO query. The reason is because Apple has always had the ability to change technology landscapes, even at times with seemingly innocuous developments.
While not novel, the iOS update has opened the floodgates for innovators and developers looking to capitalize on the space and alerted consumers to the opportunity to see fewer ads — to the extent that the highest-ranking apps last week consisted of numerous ad blockers . At the end of the day, developments like this will cause ripples across publishers, brands, ad agencies and equally important PR folk*.
The issue isn’t that advertising revenue will truly be altered. It won’t. Ad spends will continue to be orchestrated in equal and rising values as they always have been. The ripples in the pond will be more in the order of slow shifts heralded by numerous other factors that will continue to change the marketing landscape. What are the most easily identifiable?
+Commentary: * emphasis not in original: *cough cough* They might think they are equally important in this climate of endless attention grabbing headlines, listicles, and releases designed to appeal to an endless array of tabloid fodder. They are not, and they combined with the other dominant forces in our culture have turned the web & the users’ experience of it into a living hell. Otherwise would we have 86% ad blindness? We do live in an on-demand world now, don’t we? There are options.
The rest of the article is chocked full of what you’d expect a PR/Digitial Strategist to focus on, and they are far from well-reasoned or well-thought out, but they are to the user bankrupt both morally & philosophically. We use the web, we are the ones who consume this “content” and yet we are told in a faustian deal, that is very layered, that we must submit to our personal data (location, friends list, posts) being used with no transparency combined with targeting for whatever we’ve just searched for, no matter how personal & invasive that might seem. To them this is the “cost of doing business & enjoying stuff on the web & your phone.”
But, aren’t we entitled to more? Don’t we already pay the ISPs, our phone bills, etc…don’t we buy their products? Don’t they use shrink-rays during down-turn in global economies to charge us the same amount, but deliver us diminishing returns? All in the name of their bottom-line? Shouldn’t the ad industry consider the same thing?
These are asked with all sincerity. Most of what they are calling “content” is abundant & of low value, only meant to remind you they exist, or get you to click-through & purchase their product or give them your email (or access to your social media profiles & phone data) to further send you even more irrelevant points of contact. So while the existential crisis they are currently undergoing with Apple’s adoption of ad-blocking software into its iOS must feel like the ultimate betrayal.
It shouldn’t however feel or look like an apocalypse, in fact it will probably happen quite naturally to the average cell phone or desktop surfer. Quietly many blogs have been removing their side bar ad delivery & other schemes. As they ramp up for the mobile market with slower than expected adoption, but we can hope the end result will be a less cluttered web, and a few of the less toxic options in the article above.