What Does Ad Blocking Actually Achieve?

Posted · Add Comment
What Does Ad Blocking Achieve

I’ll let you know right from the outset that this post is going to present a case against using ad blocking software. It might seem like an obvious position for me to take being that I am an Internet Marketing Consultant but my reasoning goes beyond that.

If you have a particular aversion to internet advertising, you may have considered installing ad blocking software as a solution to your woes. This software will often block other useful features too including social media sharing tools and even commenting systems. Oh, and us internet marketing people really hate when tracking code, used to improve websites and to target advertising, is removed along the way.

The irony is, when people turn to this ‘solution’ they inject even more energy into another internet advertising model that has already gained a lot of momentum – and one that is a lot harder to avoid.

I am of course talking about content marketing.

So how has ad blocking accelerating the implementation of the content marketing model? Let’s take a look.

How blocking ads makes the internet less ‘free’

When most of us think about access to information on the web we usually expect that information to be free. Just ask any news website that has tried to sell access to content. Very few people are willing to part with even a few dollars.

While paying for content seems distasteful to many internet users, you’d have to be pretty ignorant to believe that the content you consume doesn’t have a cost. Since you aren’t paying, who does?

The answer: the advertisers that sponsor the content. That’s right, the ads that the ad blocking software works so hard to remove pays for your free access.

Note: You may want to take a look at a recent post about one app creator who decided to withdraw top selling ad blocking app Peace from sale fearing the negative effect ad blocking would have on the web.

So by blocking ads you remove the revenue stream that keeps many websites online.

Whoah! Did you just catch yourself saying “that’s their problem”? Actually, it is yours too. Let’s see why.

Content marketing will counter ad blocking

As ad blocking grows in popularity digital content publishers will need to turn towards the content marketing model to supplement or even substitute their declining revenues. Online marketing consultants will also be making the case for this approach to their clients. I certainly will.

Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Content marketing doesn’t require any code (making it far less detectable).
  • The material appears to be just regular content when well produced.
  • It is more likely to be accepted and believed due to its editorial nature.
  • Well written content is very convincing and drives sales.
  • It doesn’t look like an ad!

So internet marketing will be as ever present as before, harder to ignore (whether you realise it or not) and ad blocker type apps will be powerless to stop it.

Its easy to see why content marketing is winning hearts and minds in the digital marketing world, huh.

Are internet ads really that intolerable?

When you compare most forms of internet advertising to say radio or television, you’d have to admit that internet ads are far less of an interruption to whatever it is you are doing. Pop-ups and auto-play video ads are notable exceptions, granted.

Once a set of TV or radio ads start there is nothing you can do short of changing the channel/frequency. Otherwise, the advertising is forced upon you when the station broadcasting decides – not you. How much control are you afforded here? Is there an app reverse that – please, I want to know!

I should admit that I don’t like pop-up ads, interstitials or auto-play video advertising. Mainly because these also take control away from the user and ‘mess with the interface’. Fortunately most digital advertisers recognise that this is annoying and avoid their use where possible (clients may insist, but it’s rare).

The other forms of internet advertising are easy to ignore if you are actually interested in the content. Besides, thanks to concepts such as remarketing, odds are that any ads you do see will be highly relevant and targeted to your interests. So what harm are they really?

Go about your day. Seriously. The ads won’t follow you home and peep through your windows.

Don’t let tracking paranoia overwhelm you

Let me make a few comments to address the fear of tracking.

A common point of attack by for the anti advertising fraternity is the tracking code used to serve and monitor various internet advertising campaigns. This is often overstated. The problem stems from misinformation and a lack of understanding as to why tracking code is used.

Maybe we should just call it ‘optimisation code’. Sound less ominous, no? …Anyway…

Website owners and digital advertising professionals need tracking code and analytics software to determine if their website or ad campaign is effective, amongst other things. The data is then aggregated and analysed in bulk to help spot trends, patterns, problems and areas to improve. They aren’t interested in spying on you, the individual (I can’t say the same for your government – which most people just accept without much thought).

Take the Google Analytics data safeguarding policy for example. It is against their policy to track personally identifiable information using their tools. Breaking this rule gets you booted from the system.

Don’t let this keep you up at night, or make you the annoying campaigner who is always found scaremongering colleagues in the kitchen at work.

Think of it this way: if every advertising message that you saw throughout the day was tailored to your interests, the world would be a more interesting place, right? Tracking code makes this possible on the web. Let it be.


To be honest, content marketing is on the rise regardless of issues surrounding ad blocking. There is no doubt about that. ‘Banner blindness‘ is another issue that it will overcome. Still, ad blocking is forcing the hand of publishers including those that may otherwise have resisted ad copy on their website.

If you have an interest in digital marketing or have responsibilities in making it work for your organisation then keep your eye on ad blocking developments. For example, some developers are already looking at creating ad blocker blockers! Yes, I said that right.