Ad blocking technology is incredibly popular, particularly among users of mobile devices. According to PageFair’s 2016 Mobile Adblocking Report, 22% of smartphone users block ads. That’s 419 million people who aren’t seeing ads. Ads can be blocked both on the mobile web and in apps.
Facebook derives 96% of current revenues from advertising, according to eMarketer, with that amount expected to rise to 96.7% by 2018. Ad blockers cut into that revenue stream significantly, and the world’s largest social media platform is taking action to protect their bottom line.
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On August 9th, Facebook made a pair of announcements. The first was that they’ve expanded their suite of ad control tools. Users can now easily block ads by topic – for example, if you don’t want to see diet ads, you can opt out of those – as well as blocking ads from specific companies or organizations.
The second announcement was that Facebook will now begin showing ads to people who have ad blocking software in place. This has been accomplished by an update to Facebook’s code, effectively creating a work around that puts ads in front of people who have specifically opted out of seeing them.
If you’re an advertiser, this sounds like good news. Creating, targeting and deploying Facebook ads requires a significant investment of time and effort and you want to make sure you’re getting your messaging in front of people who are likely to act on it. It’s a good best practice to create ads that load very quickly, as slow load times that eat up device data is the number one reason people are blocking ads in the first place: now that users have little to no choice in the matter of whether or not they’ll see ads, it’s a reasonable supposition that slow-loading, intrusive ads are going to be the first to be blocked on an individual basis.
The real question is will it work? The dynamic between content providers and ad blockers is equivalent to an arms race: as Facebook rolls out this workaround, the ad blocking teams are working on upping their game as well. Each new method of serving ads to users will eventually be met by a tool to block those ads. Only time will tell who will win, but for right now, Facebook’s advertisers have the advantage.