The Future of Mobile

Ad Block Update: Ad Week Special

Alex Spencer

Ad Block Update is our fortnightly round-up of the latest developments in the ongoing battle between the ad industry and ad blockers. As Ad Week comes to a close – with ad blocking predictably dominating the conversation – we thought we'd switch things up to bring you the week's best quotes on ad blocking.

Ad Week Ad Block

“We know media habits are changing, and the challenge for us is at what point does the government get involved? People talk to us about ad blocking, and we have to look at the regulatory landscape. From my perspective, I always start from the point of saying we have to work with industry and avoid unnecessary regulation – not because it’s inherently bad, but because it’s hard to regulate such a fast-changing industry.”
-Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy

“In the 10 years I've been at The Guardian, this one of the most material disruptions I've seen. It's a case of consumers pointing a big gun at the industry and saying, the way you're operating isn't acceptable.”
-Tim Gentry, global revenue director, Guardian News & Media

“Users are legally entitled to block advertising under UK law. But using script to identify ad blockers is illegal. These messages publishers are sending to users, if they use a client side script to do, are technically illegal under Privacy Directive Article 5.3. In order to access information on a user's machine, you need explicit consent.”
-Alexander Hanff, privacy consultant

 Tim Gentry, Ben Williams and Alexander Hanff on the 'Ad Blocking: A New Deal or a Modern Day Protection Racket?' panel at Ad Week Europe

Alexander Hanff, Ben Williams and Tim Gentry on the 'Ad Blocking: A New Deal or a Modern Day Protection Racket?' panel at Ad Week Europe

“It seems to me the web took off too fast. Cookies, JavaScript, etc, managed to get us off the ground, but there wasn't much of a plan. Advertising wasn't the plan at all – the cookie was mostly for caching your login credentials. All these higher levels of discourse are simply not served by the lower levels of web standards and technology.”
-Brendan Eich, president and CEO, Brave, and the creator of JavaScript

“I think we as an industry, everyone along the value chain, have made a right old hash of this. Advertisers have been extremely eager to take advantage of the system, and now consumers are angry and these are empowered consumers in the digital world. I have some issues with Adblock Plus and its ilk, but consumer demand is giving these guys a franchise.”
-Bob Wootton, director of media & advertising, ISBA

“We were the first entity to bring back some kind of consumer choice into the equation, and we can talk about the entities that should have stepped in, like the IAB, and that’s some nice perspective – but it was the ad blockers who did actually step in.”
-Rotem Dar, business development manager, Adblock Plus

Brendan Eich and Johnny Ryan on the 'Putting the Consumer First in the Ad Block Debate' panel at Ad Week Europe

Brendan Eich and Johnny Ryan on the 'Putting the Consumer First in the Ad Block Debate' panel at Ad Week Europe

“Publishers will not be served by some short-termist solution that screws over the user or shortchanges the advertiser. If they feel that the open web is a hazardous platform and start pumping their content into walled gardens like Instant Articles and Apple News, publishers will fall into the same trap as the music industry 15 years ago.”
-Johnny Ryan, head of ecosystem, PageFair

“The short-term response on the agency side is that there’s enough inventory, our clients aren’t paying for blocked impressions... but that’s very short-termist and myopic. In the long term, this is a fundamental shift in the value exchange, that has maintained an equilibrium for a long while. We’re all culpable, and we’re on the consumer naughty step at the moment. We’ll take our medicine, we’ll learn our lessons and we’ll do an incrementally better job, through initiatives like LEAN from the IAB.”
-Nick Baughan, CEO, Maxus

“We spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing platforms, programmatic, and we forget that at the end of every advert is a human, and we as an industry have to get better at understanding people – not as a target audience, but as individuals. We are all, to some extent, complicit in this, because why are people ad blocking? Because they find it annoying. We’ve lost sight of the old adage of 'right message, right time, right place' and we’ve gone to just flooding the marketplace.”
-Helen McRae, CEO, Mindshare UK

Bob Wootton, Nick Baughan and Rotem Dar on the 'Economics of Ad Blocking' panel

Bob Wootton, Nick Baughan and Rotem Dar on the 'Economics of Ad Blocking' panel at Ad Week Europe

“There are many in the ad world that want to perpetrate a tech war, and you go from blockers, to blocker-blockers, to blocker-blocker-blockers, and the chain is endless. Our aim is to put AdBlock Plus and its associates out of business – but we have to do it on merit, and that’s our challenge.”
-Bob Wootton, director of media & advertising, ISBA

“Agencies need to develop ads that are creative, and that their users accept. It might be the case that in several years there are small segment of people who use blockers but are okay with seeing some ads, and that inventory becomes more high quality, more expensive, in order to reach those users who opt out of traditional ads.”
-Ben Williams, communications & operations manager, Adblock Plus

“I think we're gong to look back five years from now, and realise that this ad blocking crisis has actually been a very good thing. It's like hitting the reset button, and if there's anything publishers, advertisers and users have needed, it's a reset. If you're only allowed one or two ads in a limited space on the blocked web, there should be more of a focus on creative quality.”
-Johnny Ryan, head of ecosystem, PageFair