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It’s time for online marketers to stand up against ad-blockers

Online ads are kind of the worst. We know that, but now marketers know that too. Scott Cunningham, senior vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, recently stated as much by beginning a blog post on their website with “we messed up.” Yeah, you did. Ads have become annoying, bandwidth-feeding, internet monster-hogs and it’s so bad that people will actually pay money just so they don’t have to see them on their screen.

Ad-blockers are everywhere, and instead of blaming the developers or the users for implementing this technology, the blame falls right at the feet of the advertisers themselves. Cunningham understands this, and that’s why the IAB has announced the introduction of the L.E.A.N.–Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ad–program, in order to create advertisements that aren’t as clunky, annoying, or difficult to navigate around. With the public’s help, it will set out to create new regulations and requirements that member companies will have to adhered to in order to be L.E.A.N. certified and internet-friendly.

Right now, ad-blockers are already doing this to marketers. Adblock Plus allows advertisers to pay a premium to get past their blockers, but that cuts into profit streams. To make matters worse, Google has become whitelist compliant with Adblock Plus and Apple now allows developers to make ad-blocking apps for iOS 9 users, which could destroy mobile marketing. When asked how ad-blocking tech was hurting Google’s revenue, company co-founder Larry Page outright dismissed the question and said to his own shareholder that “the industry needs to get better at producing ads that are less annoying.” 

The problem here, though, is that the industry has created better ads and they’re capable of creating much more if they took the time to try. PageFair claims ad-blockers have cost Google $6.6 million in ad revenue in 2014 alone, but that’s pennies when they rake in $66 billion annually, and that number is only going up, despite the hit. Corporations like Google and Apple, who have multiple revenue streams, are mostly unaffected by the ad-blocking crisis, while the powerless small-time publishers and independent bloggers are the ones losing their only source of profit.

It’s fair to say that Google doesn’t care about this crisis, but they should. If left unchecked, ad-blockers could choke off the online economy and, as Cunningham puts it, “could potentially drive users to an enclosed platform world dominated by a few companies.” Google would obviously be one of those few companies, but do they want to be part of an online world devoid of growth and new opportunities? After all, that’s essentially how they came along in the first place. Google says Don’t Be Evil, but resting on your laurels while others suffer is.

It’s time for these guys to get involved, make a change, and stop complying just because it’s easier. Google and Apple are so powerful that they could literally create a new advertising format overnight and the industry would rush to comply. L.E.A.N. doesn’t have to be the solution, and they honestly don’t intend it to be, because real salvation will come down on high from these internet empires. This crisis should really be an arms race to create the next standardized advertising platform, because the company that does will save everyone and will hold the keys to the internet economy.