One of the hottest topics in digital advertising over the past months has been the development, use, and fairness of Ad Blockers. Ad Blockers are applications that remove or alter the code of a webpage to replace or do away with advertising on that page. Much of the controversy around the use of Ad Blockers emanates from the client/agency side of the business with one simple, hard to answer question: How do we reach our audience that is hidden behind Ad Blockers?
The first step toward answering that question may have just been given to us. This week, German-based company Adblock Plus debuted the beta version of its “Acceptable Ads Platform” SSP. A supply side platform (SSP) is a piece of software that is used in Programmatic advertising to sell ad inventory in an automated fashion. With the help of Israeli startup company ComboTag, Adblock Plus has begun building a channel through which to buy inventory accessing their mobile and desktop users.
James Hercher of AdExchanger.com sees similarities between Adblock Plus’s SSP and Facebook’s ad platform. “In some ways the new model makes ABP more like Facebook – an app with an audience it sees as its own, justifying tight restrictions on how marketers reach those users.” Adblock plus manager Ben Williams notes that this is the direction advertising is going in for those with ad blockers. “This is a specialized audience with specific needs,” he says.
Admittedly, this product is still in its infancy. It is also the first of its kind, which means that the perfect ad blocking SSP is more than likely years from coming to fruition. Nonetheless, it is both exciting and interesting to ponder what the future of this type of software could hold.
A 2015 PageFair report, in accordance with Adobe, found that there were 198 million people globally using ad blockers, a 41% hike from the prior years report. It can be safely assumed that this number has grown since. Nevertheless, that is roughly 200 million consumers who are missed by advertisers daily. That is 200 million consumers with different interests and incomes who are from different places. The ability to serve ads through an ad blocker would open a whole new world of consumers who were previously unreachable.
Not only will these 200 million new users be reachable, but they could also be highly targeted. As mentioned earlier, James Hercher of AdExchanger compares the idea of advertising on an ad blocker SSP to advertising on Facebook, and in theory it does make sense. Facebook has a massive of community of people whose actions can be monitored and targeted. An ad blocker also has a vast community of users, and like Facebook, the software follows the user through the Internet. This first-party data could be leveraged to create very accurate data sets that target relevant consumers. It should be interesting to see how this new type of advertising opportunity advances in the future.