Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spread and popularity of ad blockers is a growing threat for publishers, study finds

A major new study by Reuters (summarized by a story in the Columbia Journalism Review), on the state of digital news says that the growing use of ad blockers threatens not only legacy publications (in other words, print) but also the disruptors (in other words, things such as Buzzfeed and Huffington Post). Just 11% of US consumers are paying for online news and this hasn't increased since 2013.

The report says that 47% of US internet users now use ad-blocking software, which is free and easily installed. And 55% of the valued 18-24 demographic do so. And  the situation is only going to get more dire as ad blocking is coming soon to the mobile web.
“A small number of loyal readers have been persuaded to pay for brands they like,” the report says, “but it is proving hard to convert casual readers” when there is so much else available for free, even if the quality isn’t as good as the paid-for stuff. Most of those not paying in the United States said they never would or that they could be persuaded for less than $1 per month, which is a lot less than they probably pay for coffee.
Readers are also not fooled by, or impressed by, so-called "native advertising" or "sponsored content", which they find intrusive and annoying. 
"More than 40 percent of US news consumers say they “have felt disappointed or deceived after reading an article they later found had been sponsored,” the study says."
It seems that readers are making their own rules and their preferences and behaviour will not have evaded notice of the advertisers and agencies; as the story says, if advertisers know people aren’t even seeing their ads, whether on desktops or mobile devices, in apps or elsewhere, why would they continue spending billions of dollars a year to place them? It's a real poser for publishers.

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