Ad-blockers: the death of free content or the birth of creativity

Since the early 1900s advertisements have been an integral part of printed media. We have always been paying for content, be it the daily newspaper or a magazine, and have nevertheless accepted that up to 50% of the paid content was (and still is) advertising.

The internet came and gave us the perception that the world is at our fingertips, the media turned digital and flooded us with free, easy accessible content to gain our attention and our page impressions. At first it worked out fine; the consumer got something to read and the publisher made enough money with banners and ads. But somehow things got out of control, ads became intrusive, obsessive and sometimes malicious, giving birth to the first ad-blockers.

With mobile operating systems and internet browsers jumping on the ad-blocking train, digital publishers started feeling the pressure of lost revenues. Some begged for insight, understanding or even donations, some rudely pointed their fingers at ad-blocker users and some decided to charge money for their content. None of these strategies has booked any real success.

We (consumers) are not generally anti-ad, we do not avoid buses because there are billboards on every station, we do not boycott the supermarket because there are displays all over the place telling us what to buy and I can not recall a TV station announce loss of viewers because of its ads. But on the internet we want completely free, good quality content, content that is free of advertising, that is produced by little invisible people who live in the internet and pay their bills with bits and bytes.  

The only way out of the dilemma is that the media reinvents itself and gets creative. Marketers and publishers should acknowledge the needs and preferences of users, the aim should be to turn advertising into an added value instead of an annoying necessity. And maybe users will someday accept that good content has to be paid for by someone, not everyone has the luxury of being paid millions of dollars from venture capitalists.