Monday, 11 April 2016

Ad Blocking. Newspapers sue, solution is simple.

The row about Ad-Blocking rumbles on but is anything being achieved and isn't it simpler than all of this?

Some of the UK's and US largest publishers have sent a 'cease and desist' legal threat to 'Brave', a new browser with Ad blocking backed in, run by the former CEO of 'Mozilla'. The publishers include The NY Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal et al - 17 of them at least. Presumably too, they've a lot of letters to send to a lot of Ad blockers.

They seem to favour a long legal battle about 'copyright' than using their heads.

'Brave' blocks all Ads except...their own. Clever boys, although the premise is that publishers also get a share (estimated 55%). Publishers claim it's a breach of copyright and will seek damages. Fair enough, that's going to take a legal while....

(As an aside, Denis O'Brien's mobile Digicel is blocking Ads since September, for a different reason because as a 'platform' that carries traffic to the publishers, they too want a share of the Ad money.)

The difficult bit of course, is that online publishers rely on advertising to pay for (and profit from) their sites. Ad blocking diminishes that revenue and Ad blocking is on a surge in an overcrowded market. But you have some sympathy for publishers who are running a business too. 

However, it's often forgotten that it's the users who want to Ad block, a point that seems to be missed.

And why? Because of the Ads, not because of the content. 

They do not want to be extensively tracked (and they are with the 'consent' of the publisher) and they want a faster browsing experience (which heavy 'rich' advertising negates).

'Brave' sells itself as 'Browse safer and faster'. That's what users want and that's why users are using Ad blocking like 'Brave'. 

More than 200 million people use Ad blocking software for these reasons and as a consequent, browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari are all allowing users to do so. Adblock Plus, the most used blocker, takes payment from companies to bypass their Ad blocking software, often referred to by critics as 'extortion'.

So Ad blocking is something the user wants and we know, the user also wants content. After all, that's why they're online.

Is the solution therefore, not simpler?

If the publisher simply refuses any content to users with Ad blockers (no access to any news for example) that will fix it. And if the publishers come together (which 17 titles seem very keen to do legally), this can be done overnight. 

ITV and Channel 4 are good examples of the start of this journey.

You want access to the site? Switch off your Ad blocker or you get none.

It's really that simple because on balance, users want the content more than they'll suffer the Ads. Exactly as they do in traditional media.

You want to stop Ad blocking then just stop giving the content. Today.