Facebook Blocks Ad Blockers, Strives to Make Ads More Relevant

In early August Facebook started blocking ad blockers. Facebook Blocks Ad Blockers, Strives to Make Ads More RelevantAs Facebook blocks ad blockers, they strive to make ads more relevant to you.

When Facebook started blocking the ad blockers, it rendered ad blockers useless on desktops.  This allows Facebook to serve ads on its desktop site even if you have ad blocking software installed and running.

According to an article in The New York Times, Andrew Bosworth, Vice President for Facebook’s Ads and Business Platform recently said in an interview, “Disruptive ads are an industry problem, and the rise of ad blockers is a strong signal that people just don’t want to see them.  But ad blockers are a really bad solution to that.”

This move by Facebook is sure to stir a debate about the ethics of ad blocking that will not soon be resolved.

Ad blockers have become a threat to some major publishers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, both of who are facing declining advertising revenue.

About 200 million people worldwide use ad-blocking software on their desktop computers. Estimates indicate an additional 420 million individuals use ad blockers on their smartphones.

Several digital publishers have started testing anti-ad-blocking methods, including asking visitors who use ad blockers to “whitelist” their sites so that ads still appear.

“We need to spell this out clearly to our users. The journalism they enjoy costs money and needs to be paid for. Advertising is a vital part of the revenue mix,” Mark Thompson, president and chief executive of The Times, said at an ad industry conference in June while addressing ad blocking, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

To stop the blockers, Facebook is focusing on the signifiers in digital ads that blockers use to detect whether something is an ad. Facebook’s extensive changes will then make ad content indistinguishable from non-advertising content. For blockers to get around these changes, Facebook said they would have to begin analyzing the content of the ads, a costly and arduous process.

Facebook will continue to let people have some control over the ads they do and do not see. Recently Facebook also introduced an overhauled version of its ad preferences tool, which lets people opt out of seeing certain types of advertisements, helping serve more relevant ads, rather than bombard people with ads they do not want.

According to Facebook, this move against ad blockers on desktop sites will not affect blockers used to access Facebook on a mobile web browser. It will also not apply to Facebook’s mobile apps, which already include advertising that cannot be blocked by outside programs. Facebook did not announce plans to expand the changes to mobile browsers in the future.

“Facebook has a history of going out of their way to keep advertisers happy,” said Ian Schafer, founder and chief executive of Deep Focus, an ad agency, as cited in a recent article in The New York Times. He continued, that, “This plays into what advertisers’ demand regarding accountability for publishers.”

Others have said that Facebook was striking a middle ground giving users some options over what ads they see.

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