There is a long implied agreement between Internet publishers and readers that content is paid for by advertisers.
But a new and readily available free technology, known as AdBlockers, has allowed this implied agreement to be smashed. Publishers, readers and advertisers are being forced to rethink the business fundamentals of their relationships.
Internet publishers have come under pressure to increase their advertising income (CPM) per 1000 pages viewed. Strategies have included; more ads per page; larger ads per page; pop up ads; attention grabbing ads; inappropriate ads and big data analysis for ad selection.
The visitors, fueled by their expectation that publisher services should be free, have objected to this systemically more intrusive advertising. Adopting a series of ad ignoring strategies. Ignoring advertisements entered a new realm with the availability of free AdBlocking technology from companies like AdBlock Plus.
The resulting Mexican stand off between publishers and their visitors must find a win win balance. Publishers need income. Readers eyes deserve respect.
The advertising tension between publishers and their audiences is not new. Our Traditional Media channels have wrestled with this for as long as they have existed. Print publications have found a balance. Books are sold without advertising. Magazines are offered at subsidized prices that reflect the quality of writing and the amount of advertising. Certain magazines are sealed to prevent viewing without paying. Television channels elevate the sound level of adverts. Feature films back load adverts knowing viewers will want to watch the finale. The compromises reached between publishers and viewers reflects the maturity of the traditional media industry, and the limited technologies available to evade advertising.
New Media is an emerging industry that has not established the definition of fair play. New media is equipped with many technologies that facilitate all sorts of unacceptable social behavior. While New Media copyright laws have a lot of catching up to do. But at the heart of the issue is technology enabled selfishness for both parties. Publishers have become desperate for revenue and ignored the needs of their viewers. Especially when delivering large media files to mobile users who need to manage their data plans. Visitors in their frustration have installed AdBlockers without much regard for the needs of good publishers to earn an income for their work.
The choice we face is New Media litigation and regulation vs. voluntary behavioral change on both sides. But one way or the other the New Media business is not going to go away. It will find revenue models that work. While the appetite of consumers, young and older, to receive their information in a free (exchange of value) digital format will only grow.
One of the immediate responses to AdBlocking has been for publishers to include native advertising, or advertising that is designed to blend in with the original content. We assume that the Publishers intention here was to stop AdBlockers, and not some any effort to mislead the readers.
But, this is not allowed, “Advertising and promotional messages that are not identifiable as advertising to consumers are deceptive if they mislead consumers into believing they are independent, impartial, or not from the sponsoring advertiser itself.” said the FTC.
What are we going to do to continue the free availability of accurate New Media information by quality publishers?