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BizReport : Advertising : September 03, 2015

Campaign launched to increase awareness of role of ads in funding free online editorial

A UK-based outstream video ad firm is so concerned of the effect of ad blocking on the business models of quality publishers it has launched a campaign to educate Internet users of how advertising funds the content they enjoy.

by Helen Leggatt

Teads commissioned independent research among just over 2,000 adults in the U.K. during August, 2015, and found that two-thirds (65%) were of the opinion that "society would be worse off without free or low cost, high quality editorial from newspapers, magazines and their online sites".

However, an increasing number of Internet users are limiting publishers' revenues by employing ad blockers. Fifteen percent of British adults online currently use ad blocking software, and 22% have downloaded the relevant software, found YouGov's survey among 2,057 U.K. adults conducted for the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK). Ironically, Teads' survey found that those who use ad blockers are 12% more likely to value free or low-cost editorial than the general population.

And therein lies the problem. Consumers are simply unaware of, or underestimate, the role of advertising in sustaining the business models of quality publishers. Teads' research found that, while around half of UK newspaper revenues are now derived from advertising - rising to 75% among online-only titles - two-thirds (62%) of consumers underestimated the figures or just didn't know.

But Teads isn't lumping all the blame on consumers irritated by ads or unaware of the damage their ad blocking habit does to publishers' business success. They are also adamant that advertisers need to "engage, rather than enrage" readers by providing users with more control and focusing on creating experiences that are "respectful to the end user".

"If the media is to have a promising future, it will require the utmost attention to the quality of the user experience they offer. If the abuse continues, users will massively protect themselves against what they perceive as an advertising aggression and install more ad blockers," says Teads' executive chairman, Pierre Chappaz. "In fact, 74% of Internet users say that being forced to watch an advertisement ruins their online experience, according to Censuswide Research. Brands and publishers should understand that forced ads have no value, it irritates the user, who very often do not even look at them."

Teads' view on getting the advertising right is reflected in the aforementioned IAB UK report. It found that, of those that block ads, only 52% said they wanted to block all ads. The remaining ad blockers simply wanted to block certain types of ads (12%) or ads on particular websites (11%). Nearly three-quarters (73%) said the ads they are most likely to want to block are those that are disruptive to their browsing experience. More than half (55%) block ads because they find the design and format - such as bright colors and pop-ups - annoying, while 46% blocks ads because they do not find them relevant.

Last year, Teads, formerly Ebuzzing, calculated that Internet users would need to pay $232.24 (£150) per year to have an ad-free Internet experience. The value was arrived at by calculating the average value of each Internet user by taking the amount spent on digital advertising in the U.K. last year - $10.6 billion (£6.9 billion) and dividing it by the number of Internet users in the country (45 million).

So, would the U.K.'s online population pay up to avoid advertising? Not by a long shot. When told how much it would cost them to enjoy an ad-free Internet experience, 98% said they would not pay it and would, instead, tolerate ads.

According to Jeremy Arditi, SVP International Sales, Teads, the ad industry has a major role to play to keep Internet content free, "but we have to respond to what consumers are telling us".

"We need to get better at engaging, not better at interrupting," said Arditi. "That means introducing new formats which consumers find less invasive, more creative ads that are better placed, and giving consumers a degree of choice and control."

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: ad blocking, advertising, publishing

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