Every day this week, PerformanceIN will provide background and expert commentary on IAB Believes: a five-part series which clarifies the UK organisation’s stance on some of ad industry’s biggest talking points.

Today (Thursday, August 20), it’s the bureau’s turn to run the rule over ad-blocking – a growing practice which involves the use of third-party technology to prevent ads from appearing in a user’s journey around the web.

The IAB says…

Predictably, that ad-blocking is something to be wary of and for plenty of reasons.

The bureau is advocating an ad-funded web, supporting the notion that many of the various bits of media we enjoy for free are financed through backing from advertisers.  

Ad-blockers pose a challenge to this model by preventing ads from being displayed and therefore encouraging advertisers to wonder if their money is better spent elsewhere. 

There are of course plenty of ways to beat the system. Display ads and pop-ups are relatively easy to identify as advertorial, but if we were to start plugging companies in this article (we won’t) the likes of AdBlock Plus wouldn’t turn to blurring out whole words and phrases within it.

Looking at the industry as a whole, IAB reps are especially worried that people are downloading software like AdBlock Plus without considering the bigger picture of their adoption. 

“Through our research with YouGov we have found that more than half of web users in the UK don’t understand that advertising funds their activities online,” the bureau states.

Guy Phillipson, IAB UK’s CEO, adds that “if the web didn’t have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions”.

From this we can gather that IAB intends to broadcast this point to members of the industry and the people they engage with. Success won’t be easy, though. Ad-blocking is a growing issue for the organisation, which predicts the 150 million people currently blocking ads to grow “quite significantly” over the coming years.

The organisation concludes by stating that if software vendors want to change the current model, the focus will be on limiting the damage to companies involved.

Our expert says…

‘A web without advertising is a “frightening” prospect’

Justin Taylor is UK MD at digital video advertising group Teads.

“Advertising funds the things we love and it’s frightening to imagine a world without it. Newspapers, sports teams and social media rely on revenue from advertising to survive and if users screen these ads out, things could disappear. Not least, the free internet.

Our research shows that it would cost every web user in the UK £140 for an ad-free web, but 98% of people would not be willing to pay this. So we must get better at engaging, not interrupting consumers if we don’t want to drive them to block ads altogether. 

That means introducing new formats which consumers find less invasive, more creative ads that are better placed, and giving consumers a degree of choice and control. The reality is, if we continue to install and use ad blockers, we could lose access to free online content forever.”

PerformanceIN is working in association with the IAB to give people new to performance marketing a chance to attend Performance Marketing Insights: London free of charge. Applicants must complete a form ahead of the deadline on September 16, in the lead up to October’s event.