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New AudioMag: Brian Kane on Ad Blocking and How Publishers can Fight Back

Ad blocking software is a scourge for publishers, and its use is growing. Estimates put the loss of advertising revenue to publishers worldwide at around US$20 billion annually. The free software takes seconds to download, and presto: ads that your clients have asked to be served up on your site are scrubbed from view. And along with it the revenue you’re entitled to. So publishers have been exploring all sorts of ways to counter its popularity.

Brian Kane is with Sourcepoint Technologies. They’re working with publishers to fight the spread of ad blocking technology, and he’s our guest on the latest episode of AudioMag.

“Sourcepoint is a technology and services company that offers publishers tools that allows them to reengage with their consumers and offer them compensation choices,” says Kane.

Sourcepoint’s clients are large news organizations and media companies. Kane says they are seeing ad block rates in the 15–25% range, which is putting a huge portion of their readers outside the reach of advertisers. That means hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of dollars a month in lost revenue.

“When people come to websites with the ad blockers turned on they are in essence gaining access to the content without paying for it. It’s akin to opening up a store and have 20–25% of the people who come in and buy from you take merchandise without paying you,” says Kane.

Research out of the UK indicates that as much as 60% of ad block users don’t have an understanding of how the revenue models work in publishing, and the effect of their use of ad blocking software on the industry. Kane doesn’t think publishers have done enough in the last two or three decades to highlight that value exchange.

“Over the years digital publishers have continued to provide their consumers with more aggressive advertising experiences, more intrusive ads, but they never went back to have the conversation with their users to indicate that these ads fund our existence and without these ads we cease to exist,” he says.

“Most importantly publishers must establish that there is a value to the content that they have created and are sharing with the user,” says Kane. “And indicate to the ad block user that by using an ad blocker you are severely impacting the ability for the publisher to exist.”

Decades into the emergence of web publishing, Kane says that value exchange between reader, publisher and advertiser needs to be better communicated by publishers so that readers understand the impact ad blockers have on their ability to create a great product. And publishers can do that through products created by companies like Sourcepoint that recognize when a customer is using an ad blocking software, and offering them a slate of options ranging from an ad-free experience, for a fee, to limited ads in exchange for access to content.

“We believe that the very large majority of people will opt for some sort of advertising-supported experience. That might be a standard ad experience. It might be a customized ad experience,” Kane explains. “One option is they allow publishers to offer their consumers the ability to watch one video ad in exchange for 24 hours of ad free content.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Brian Kane.

Find more episodes of AudioMag in our resource centre. AudioMag is available to download and subscribe on iTunes.

AudioMag is produced by Tina Pittaway, an award-winning independent writer and broadcaster. Tina has been a contributor to CBC Radio and Television for more than 20 years. Her radio documentaries have been honoured with a 2007 Gabriel Award, 2008 Amnesty International Media Award, 2009 Gold Medal at the New York Festivals and a Science in Society Award from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association.

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AudioMag is made possible with the support of the OMDC.

Ontario Media Development Corporation   

Magazines Canada acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as the Canada Council, for this project.


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