Ben Williams, the spokesperson of Adblock Plus recently told StopPress that the company’s ad-blocking software has already been downloaded more than 400 million times across the world, and that there are 200,000 active users in New Zealand.
The main problem with ad-blocking software is that it severely undermines the ability of ad-funded models to work in the online space. And while ad blocking usage is still relatively low in the Kiwi context, many European countries already have a situation in which 30 percent of all online users have ad-blocking software activated all the time.
Given the extent of the problem, The Guardian recently took a novel approach to addressing the issue. Instead of following the German example of taking ad blocker software providers to court, the UK publisher has reached out to its readers with a strong moral message.
Browsers who have an ad-blocker activated see the following message at the bottom of the page of The Guardian website:
Once readers click on the link, they are forwarded to a separate section of the site that aims to convince them to support the publication by taking out a membership. The plea to readers also includes a video on the importance of the work the publication does in terms of keeping readers informed.
This approach is largely based on the premise that ad-blocking is immoral and that web users should understand that ads are integral to the continuation of the service being offered free of charge. However, whether this will encourage users to sign up for the service or convince them to deactivate their ad blockers is yet to be seen. And if the example of online pirating of movies and music is anything to go by, then it doesn’t look too promising.