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Home > Guest Talk > The Business of Blocking By Prashant Nandan, Director, Digital Media Buying-Isobar

The Business of Blocking By Prashant Nandan, Director, Digital Media Buying-Isobar


Once a wise man said: You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Welcome to the world of “internet police “called ad blocker which was coined as a term to protect users from ads, opens the door to ads and the hell broke on internet industry. We should not be so surprised by this because as a user we never think before downloading or leaving our digital footprints behind.

Eyeo which is the parent company of ad block plus had a vision to make internet better for everyone and they thought blocking ads is a good start, but shortly after that Adblock Plus became a tool that, instead of blocking bad ads, allowed ads it believed “acceptable” to be seen, often for a price.

User who are using ad blockers are often relatively young, well-educated, tech-savvy and hard to reach. But now you can reach to them through an automated online advertising service that will allow more websites to place ads deemed “acceptable” in front of Adblock Plus users. While ad block plus is claiming that they have a list of criteria for what is constitute an acceptable ads, but then the question is  these so called criteria is there with every publisher ,how are you different.

Publishers adopt all kinds of techniques like limiting access to the site to fully blocking ad-blocker users from accessing the content altogether. I know at the end publishers will get punished by either working with ad blocker or not, there are two big giants’ google and Facebook which have ability to set the terms and condition for online industry. Adblock Plus made an announcement of its plan to create its own ad exchange through a partnership with a company called ComboTag.  Google and AppNexus would supply ads to it so ad blocker plus has actually strike a good deal with Google. While as per the google official statement they have no tie-ups with comboTag and this is not a business they want to be part of. But then why google is participating in ad blocker plus acceptable ad formats which allows Google’s keyword search ads to survive the filters of Adblock Plus? On the other hand Facebook is playing safe by making it hard for ad blocker software to understand the difference between ads and content.

Believe me or not nobody is doing charity here and its business as usual. Ad blocking business is divided into different parts. There are companies like Adblock Plus—possibly the most popular ad blocker doesn’t block all ads, but rather operates what it calls an “acceptable ads” program. On the other hand there are other ad blockers which operates under different model which most of us are not aware about. With other form of ad blockers as a user, you don’t see ads and aren’t tracked by data trackers. The company, however, makes money by collecting anonymized data on what those trackers pick up. It repackages that data and resells it to publishers, websites, and other companies. There are few ad blockers which will charge you for blocking more than one or two ads. Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has launched a browser called “Brave” that could offer ad-blockers. Unlike earlier generations of ad blocking software, Brave won’t simply be removing ads: it will be replacing them with new ads that split revenue between publishers, users, network partners, and Brave itself.

Ad blockers are running businesses too and their business models aren’t different from the publishers and advertisers. I personally believe ad blocker is not going to be huge success as digital industry will move from obtrusive ads to native content and it will find a way to bypass such software.

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