Misplaced Problem Solving

A new week and another bit of news that has me shaking my head.  Today it comes from the folks at thePlatform which is a widely used video streaming service.  thePlatform announced that it has been working on a feature to defeat ad blockers and they have something that protects against ad blockers, making it easier to get ads onto new devices with minimal client work.

Diagram of Unicast Streaming

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like thePlatform and have worked with them so please don’t misconstrue what follows as anything but me trying to a little wider perspective.  I’ve written before about the challenge of ad blockers for the ad-supported digital community.  To quote one article on the subject:

There are stats out there that say nearly 28% of users have some sort of ad blocker installed, a percentage that has spiraled by nearly 70% in a year. Ads that are blocked, combined with all the other ads that aren’t seen because of viewability issues, makes for pretty bad business.

Indeed.   In this case, thePlatform is looking out for the businesses that support their services.  I applaud them for that even though it’s a misplaced solution that doesn’t cure the underlying problem.  It’s fine to defeat some of the ad blockers for a short time and to help your clients with generating advertising revenue.  However, when you have 70% annual growth in something that runs counter to your business model, maybe the answer is to examine why people are using ad blockers in the first place.

Ad blocking is most popular with younger users – 41% of American internet users aged between 18 and 29 used ad blocking software, rising to 54% when only young men are counted.  Those are the prime years for developing habitual customers.  Yet rather than figuring out how to get product messages across without being annoying and intrusive the industry is figuring out how to thwart customers’ technology.  “We’ve been extremely diligent about making sure that ad blockers can’t find patterns in our URLs they can block on” says thePlatform’s CTO.  Hmmm…

I believe in the ad-supported business model.  I also believe that you can’t force-feed consumers.  Defeating ad blockers is a band-aid and a misplaced one at that.  We need to focus on how to make ads that don’t tax computer resources and crash web browsers.  We need to respect privacy, which is another reason people install blockers.  We need to stop producing band-aids and focus on real solutions.

That’s my opinion.  Yours?

Leave a comment

Filed under digital media, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.