Will Ad Blockers Kill the Digital Media Industry?

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HughPickens.com writes: Michael Rosenwald writes at the Columbia Journalism Review that global online ad revenue continues to rise, reaching nearly $180 billion last year. But analysts say the rise of ad blocking threatens the entire industry—the free sites that rely exclusively on ads, as well as the paywalled outlets that rely on ads to compensate for the vast majority of internet users who refuse to pay for news. A new report from Adobe and one of several startups helping publishers fight ad blocking shows that 198 million people globally are now blocking ads, up 41 percent from 2014. In the US, ad blocking grew 48 percent from last year, to 45 million users. “Taken together, ad blockers are hitting publishers in their digital guts,” writes Rosenwald. “Adobe says that $21.8 billion in global ad revenue will be blocked this year.”

Publishers have been banking on the growth of mobile, where the ad blocking plugins either don’t work or are cumbersome to install. A Wells Fargo analyst wrote in a report on ad blocking that “the mobile migration should thwart some of the growth” of ad blockers. But Apple recently revealed that its new operating system scheduled for release this fall will allow ad blocking on Safari. Apple is trying to pull iPhone and iPad users off the web. It wants you to read, watch, search, and listen in its Apple-certified walled gardens known as apps. It makes apps, it approves apps, and it profits from apps. But, for its plan to work, the company will need those entertainers and publishers to funnel their content to where Apple wants it to be. As the company makes strategic moves to devalue the web in favor of apps, those content creators dependent on ads to stay afloat may be forced to play along with Apple. Adblock Plus has released a browser for mobile Android devices that blocks ads, and it’s planning to release a similar product for Apple devices. “The desire to figure out how to bring ad blocking to mobile consumers is a worldwide phenomenon,” says Roi Carthy Ad blocking, he says, “is an inalienable right.”

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