Facebook is blocking ad blockers (and publishers should be excited)

Becky Doles

Facebook blocking ad blockers is exciting for publishers

Ad blocking has been a big trending topic, at times scaring advertisers and publishers alike. But it turns out that people don’t want ads, but they also don’t want to pay for content. Meanwhile, publishers are working to serve up ads in the right place at the right time for a better overall experience.

[bctt tweet=”Consumers don’t want ads, but they also don’t want to pay for content. ” username=”tune”]

Enter publishing monolith Facebook, which announced earlier this week that it was taking a hard-line stance on the issue. No longer will users have a choice on whether they can block ads on desktop or not. And the world of media (or at least advertising) lost its mind.

“Bad ads are disruptive and a waste of our time,” the social media giant said in a statement. It went on to say that, to “help with this problem,” it is expanding tools we give people to control their advertising experience and updating its written policy regarding ad blocking on Facebook.

Facebook’s move is set to add to a furious debate about the ethics of ad blocking,” The New York Times said in its coverage of the announcement. “On one hand, many digital ads are a nuisance — they slow loading times of web pages and detract from the online experience. Yet the ads also serve as the business foundation for many digital publishers to provide content to readers.”

Facebook’s blocking ad blockers may irk consumers, but TUNE Mobile Economist John Koetsier says it makes sense.

“Facebook is doing something very, very fair,” Koetsier said. “The company is providing a service for free, and they’re asking for a bit of your attention in return. In addition, Facebook is saying: We’ll let you customize the ad experience. What our research has shown is that people actually don’t mind ads, as long they’re relevant and timely, and they’re completely unwilling to pay for services that are currently paid for by advertising. Put those two together, along with a commitment to eliminating annoying, misleading, or even dangerous advertising, and you’ve got a win-win-win between people, publishers, and marketers.”

The risk for Facebook blocking ad blockers

As big as the social network giant is, the move to disable ad blockers doesn’t come without risks. The New York Times said, “the effort is risky for the company, which prides itself on delivering the best user experience, because it could alienate some people for whom ad blocking is an ideological stance on how they wish to gain access to the internet.”

[bctt tweet=”Facebook will look at cues in digital ad blockers that show whether content is an ad.” username=”tune”]

To work around the ad blockers, Facebook will look at cues in digital ad blockers that show whether content is an ad. According to the New York Times, “Facebook’s desktop site-wide changes will then make ad content indistinguishable from non-advertising content. For blockers to get around these changes, Facebook said they would have to begin analyzing the content of the ads themselves, a costly and laborious process.”

TUNE’s research shows that the download of ad blocking apps and browsers is growing. This move by Facebook is a sign to publishers to not fear the ad blocker. The publisher who have the users’ experience top of mind will be more transparent with their audience in terms of blocking ad blockers. This is the method publishers should strive to follow and the kind of publishers marketers want to work with.

Download the report to learn the results of TUNE’s latest research on ad blocking.

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Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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