Advertisers Can Breathe….For Now
Yesterday was a day masked by overwhelming dread amongst the advertising community, as we watched ad blocking software soar to the top of Apple’s App store charts. Many contemplated how these technologies would ultimately threaten their very livelihood, forever disrupting the balance between publishers, ad platforms, tech giants and consumers. Others considered how the shift in power may result in something close to a state of warfare between the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook, according to The Verge, something close to hell.
But today is a different day, perhaps one that’s a bit brighter. Because just 24 hours after his ad blocking software, Peace, gained more downloads than any other app in Apple’s store, Marco Arment has decided to pull his product. Despite the vast monetary success, Arment dismisses it all for the reason of it, “just not feeling good.” Quite the change of heart from an individual who has consistently, and very stridently, voiced the many ethical issues around advertising. In an earlier blog post, the developer noted the “blurry lines” of the unspoken contract between publisher and consumer,
“People often argue that running ad-blocking software is violating an implied contract between the reader and the publisher: the publisher offers the page content to the reader for free, in exchange for the reader seeing the publisher’s ads. And that’s a nice, simple theory, but it’s a blurry line in reality.”
He’s gone on to address all of the wrongs done to consumers, including the collection of their data without consent, disruption to the web experience they deserve, all the way down to the taking of their mobile device’s battery life. But what Arment did not account for, was all the rights. His app effectively stripped all chances for consumers to experience the content they readily enjoy and engage with. Peace ultimately did not allow for a system of checks and balances that distinguished the good from the ‘bad’ content. And for this reason, he recognized that his system of blocking all ads was inherently a greater wrongdoing than any which could be done by the advertiser or publisher. In the end, cutting the chord on quality, contextually relevant, native content would be a large detriment to the consumer population. Because if all resources are taken from the publisher, there becomes a complete loss of opportunity to be better, and to build stronger, richer experiences.
So while advertisers may take a breath, and recognize that the internet as we know it is in fact not coming to its untimely end, now is not the time for non-action. There are dramatic shifts occurring in the advertising landscape, evolutions that are happening as a result of the increasingly complex consumer relationships we must build and nurture, coupled with the ceaseless advances in technology. The demands for relevant content are very real, and we have caught only a glimpse of how harmful ‘bad’ content can be to our businesses and our relationships. Though Arment may have recognized his wrongs, ad blockers are still very much on the rise and will be more widely adopted as consumers make choices about the kinds of digital experiences they want to have. And so, as advertisers we must continually challenge ourselves, pushing the envelope through more creativity and dedication to innovating our content to meet these changing standards.
Rest easy, but don’t think that this fight is over.