Prediction: Adblocking is the End of Ad-Supported Sites

Status: Occurring

Prediction:  Adblocking is the Grim Reaper of commerce

” It’s likely that over 300 million savvy web surfers are not seeing ads into which companies have poured tons of money – and no doubt, love.”

“This is the end of many ad-supported businesses…and the rise of several new opportunities.”

“The last thing a third-party ad network like DoubleClick (now Google) or ValueClick want to tell their customers is how many impressions are not getting to those who block.  If your company uses online networks, be sure to press the issue.  If you have a business that relies on advertising impressions, get a BCG consultant or a priest because the grim reaper of commerce is coming for you.”

“users are getting more tech savvy and likelier to fight online nuisances.”

Confessions Of An Ad Blocker, Apr 2010

What Happened

Since writing this, Adblocking has shot through the roof, with a PageFair report showing that adblocking is up over 40% in 2017 in the United States and increased by 41% globally, with installation on over 60% of devices. Even Facebook Says Ad blocking Is A Problem

Google’s Head of advertising says with mobile searches surpassing those on desktop, people crave adblocking to reclaim battery life and screen space.

As expected, advertisers are desperately implementing counter-strategies. Google started punishing adblock users with unskippable, autoplay ads and Facebook found ways to update its code to defeat Adblock.

Google developed its own adblocking software, to protect its goldmine.  Websites that can no longer pay the bills with ads are so desperate, they’ve turned to mining for cryptocurrency.

Prescriptions & What Happened

1. The popularity of Firefox presents a compelling platform for developing useful add-ons.  Apple gets all the glory, but Firefox has the numbers and a sexier logo.

Adblocking extensions continue unabated, though the popularity of Firefox waned, as Chrome took over the market. On mobile, adblocking apps are a huge hit, as Chrome on Android and Samsung  browsers also deployed adblockers.

2. New rev models.  Ad-dependent businesses need to focus on value delivered, not just impressions. Users have to want to see your ads. Offer them something in return.  The social web is a two-way medium.  One-way ads seem backwards and archaic.  Deal sites like Groupon or Dealnews are good examples of opt-in ad models.

Ads Don’t Work So Websites Are Using Your Electricity to Pay the Bills – Bitcoin mining


Why Mobile Websites Push You to Download Their App – bypassing browser blocks to control experience

Prepare for the New Paywall Era – The Atlantic – it’s back to subscriptions, Freeloaders!!

Many tried pivoting to video to feed Facebook’s preference, but failed.

3. Content embedding…in the 50’s I Love Lucy would stop mid-show to do a commercial. If it’s entertaining, people will come.  Hire a comedian or an upstart animator.  Think outside the banner.

Growth of sponsored content and influencer marketing has shot through the roof, largely because they are more trusted, like Lucy, and the ads are embedded into the “programming”, whether it’s YouTube videos, Instagram posts or

4. Consider hosting ads on the main site’s server (not on the ad-network), so blocking software has a harder time detecting them.  I shouldn’t have given that one away…

5. Focus on controlled, closed platforms that don’t let people block ads. Mobile carriers and Apple (iPad, iPhone) are notorious for this maniacal type of control. Be careful, at some point you reach a point of diminishing returns where ads compromise user experience, which will impair adoption. God, I prefer open platforms…but that’s a separate blog.

Local news websites, last to realize that display ads are dead, are ruining their experience for users.

Even new media upstarts are cutting staff ( The Onion, Cracked, Funny or Die, Buzzfeed). Former high-flyers like Mashable (acquired), Vice & Buzzfeed are ready them for acquisition at a fraction of their former valuations.

Meanwhile, Instagram and Whatsapp founders quit Facebook over aggressive targeting and ad monetization efforts, which they believed would ruin the user experience.

What’s Next?