In this podcast, magazine publishing company Shweiki Media chats to Bo Stacks, a veteran of the printing industry since 1970. His current business, Precision Media Group, does private consulting and publishes the longest running e-newsletter in the world. They discuss ad blocking, its future, and how people can overcome it.
What is Ad Blocking and Who Should Be Concerned about It?
To get things going, Bo describes ad blocking as a relatively new technology, which, simply enough, blocks ads. It happens in nanoseconds before the ads load on a web browser, so it saves people valuable bandwidth and time as the browser can render the page faster.
This aids the user experience, but Shweiki’s David Reimherr wonders whether anyone should be concerned by ad blocking. Bo explains that anything that abuses the common reader is a problem for anyone, including businesses. And every solution only seems temporary, including ad blocking. That’s because some of the ad blockers, which profess to be protecting the public, are actually making a profit by allowing some ads through the system.
David draws on some news he’s read recently and how he believes that some of the new operating systems are going to have an automatic ad blocking default written into their code. Bo describes this like a war, with the level of this war constantly elevating. For example, Apple’s building in ad blocking and Facebook has built a program that is going to block the ad blockers. So now that Facebook has done that, ad blockers will develop a block for the blocker – which is why Bo feels like there’s no end to this “war.”
How Can Companies Combat Ad Blocking?
David then moves onto those who are making money out of ad blocking and what they can do about it. Bo suggests that the real heart of the issue is how the trust is recovered once it’s lost. He believes they’ve got to try to act honorable for an extended period of time and hope that the rest of the industry does too.
Bo says that those in marketing are in a tough bind but he thinks the best thing that they can hope for is to go out there and present their image. Their branded image is one that’s trustworthy, and if they can achieve that goal, then they can circumvent the mistrust that’s out there.
He also suggests that the only way for people to get through this is to be above board and transparent in what they’re doing. The public doesn’t really know what a sponsored ad or native advertising is. Sponsored content is an ad in disguise, and that’s his point. They’re using deception to head down the path of revenue. Everyone wants revenue but he thinks this all comes about from greed and it’s this that’s the problem. Bo feels as though people have gone from seeking an honorable profit to unfounded greed, and this is becoming recognized.
How Can People Use Native Ads and Sponsored Content Correctly?
David then moves onto native advertising and Bo describes this as a type of disguised advertising, mostly online. It matches the form and function of the platform on which it resides. And with the right context, and done in the right way, Bo thinks it can be a win-win for everybody. But again, Bo feels that once people discover a new path of revenue, they have a tendency to overextend themselves.
However, Bo suggests that marketers and publishers can use sponsored content in the right way. They need to ask themselves what the needs of their client are and if they can answer this and supply the answer, they’ve got a winner.
To illustrate his point, Bo uses the Guinness Guide to Oysters. Guinness wants to sell beer and beer and oysters go really well. One assumes that the article will interest those who like oysters, so they’re satisfying their need. This is the bottom line, in Bo’s opinion.
Should People Use Technical Ways to Combat Ad Blocking?
Going back to ad blocking, David turns the questions to the technical ways of combating ad blocking, e.g. PageFair and Secret Media. Bo explains that this is a service that delivers advertising in a manner that ad blockers are unable to block, so it’s back to what Facebook is doing, which Bo feels is deceptive. This also reiterates his point about trust because the consumer is smart and they’ll protect themselves in any way they can. And if a publisher or marketer abuses that privilege, Bo doesn’t think they’re going back.
Bo instead feels as though the answer to all of the questions raised in the podcast is to have readers and consumers pay for content. He explains that this is more for publishers but the consumer is also willing to pay for content that’s worth paying for. The Economist is a great example, Bo feels because they’re doing extremely well on the web and in print because they have extremely high-quality content that their consumers are willing to pay for.
To conclude, Bo suggests that in any niche, someone can charge for good quality content. It’s being done, it will be done, and Bo thinks that’s the answer to many of the problems. Fair value, fair cost.
About Bo Sacks
A veteran of the printing/publishing industry since 1970, Bob Sacks was always an innovator.
After several years in the alternative press publishing newspapers in New York and Tucson, Az., he went on to become one of the founding fathers of High Times Magazine.
Since then Bob has held positions that include Publisher, Editor, Freelance Writer, Director of Manufacturing and Distribution, Senior Sales Manager, Circulator, Chief of Operations, Pressman, Cameraman, Lecturer, and Developer of website companies.
Today Bob’s firm, Precision Media Group, does private consulting and publishes “Heard on the Web: Media Intelligence”, a daily e-newsletter that delivers pertinent industry news to a diverse, worldwide, publishing community of over 11,750 media industry leaders. It is the longest running e-newsletter in the world.
Bob Sacks is a columnist and lecturer who regularly electrifies the media and marketing industry with the good and bad news about what he calls “El-CID” or Electronically Coordinated Information Distribution. His fun and extremely informative presentation covers the technological past, present and future possibilities for publishing at the digital edge.