Facebook to use technology against ad blockers

Facebook has announced that it intends to start forcing ads to appear to all users of its desktop website, even if they use ad-blocking software. The company said that they will do this by changing the way that advertising is loaded on the desktop version of the platform, making its ad units much more difficult for ad blockers to detect.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) 26% of U.S. internet users are now using ad blockers and that ad blocking is affecting publishers revenues.

Facebook’s vice president of engineering for advertising and pages, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, commented that the move wasn’t motivated by inventory, the majority of Facebook’s revenue comes from mobile, Bosworth said, “We’re doing it more for the principle of the thing. We want to help lead the discussion on this.”

Bosworth said that forcing ads on people who want to avoid them could annoy those users, but he said that Facebook had invested heavily in ensuring their advertising is “uninterruptive” and relevant. He said the company is also about to introduce additional ways for users to control the type of advertising they see on the service.

ExoClick’s CEO and founder Benjamin Fonzé welcomed the news, “It’s really great news that Facebook is joining the fight and taking a clear position against ad blockers, unlike lots of large companies like Google, who are continuing to pay ad blocking companies to allow their ads to still show.”

Eyeo GmbH, behind popular desktop ad-blocking tool Adblock Plus, receives money from more than 70 companies in exchange for letting their ads through its filter.

Bosworth added that Facebook has not been paying ad-blocking software companies, “It’s not something that Facebook wants to be a part of.  I don’t think ad blockers are a very good solution. They specifically don’t serve publishers well, who deserve to be compensated for their content. But they don’t serve customers well either. The ad blockers take money for showing ads, which means they don’t have the consumers’ best interests in mind.  It’s not a business model that’s set out to serve the best interests of people,” he said.

The digital advertising industry has been coming up with ways to try to combat ad blockers, with ExoClick recently launched its own technological solution NeverBlock. It ensures that advertisements still get shown even if a user has ad blocking software installed and switched on.

Advertising is the financial fuel of the consumer internet. Without ad revenue Google wouldn’t be able to organize the world’s information and Facebook would be unable to allow you to stay in touch with distant family and friends.  With Facebook now showing this anti-ad blocking stance, it will be interesting to see if any of the other digital giants will also join in to put an end to ad blocking.

Giles Hirst