From publisher “please whitelist us” requests to certain native ads, the ad blocking battlefield is littered with the bodies of innocent bystanders. Add to the list e-commerce links that appear in the copy of many digital publishers’ sites — links from which the referring publisher gets a cut of the sale.
A big player caught in the middle is Skimlinks, a 10-year-old company that helps publishers including Time Inc., Gawker Media and Daily Mail make money from links on their sites. AdBlock Plus said Skimlinks has qualified to be on the AdBlock Plus whitelist and pays to have the links intact, at least for AdBlock Plus users, so the publisher can track the sale and get credit for it.
The buy links may seem like a far cry from the display ads that cover up articles or have animated images. But software like the popular AdBlock Plus can be undiscriminating when it comes to blocking ads from appearing on a given website. Hence even The Deck, an ad server that specializes in small, discreet ads and doesn’t track readers, have been caught in the ad-block net. Privacy is another big reason people use ad blockers, though, and Skimlinks does anonymously collect data on purchases from its links. Advertisers are guilty until proven innocent, though; they have to apply to get on AdBlock Plus’ whitelist and pay to be unblocked, a practice that critics have likened to extortion.
AdBlock Plus spokesman Ben Williams concedes many e-commerce links fit the criteria for its acceptable ads list. But he says that AdBlock Plus can’t just unblock all ads without vetting them first.
“The downside is, it’s a lot of hard work adding exception filters to our list,” he said. “The upside is that it allows us to keep the integrity of the list by having to check each applicant against said criteria.”
The irony is that publishers are using commerce to lessen their reliance on advertising, in part because of ad blockers. Some publishers have made commerce a central part of their business.
The business of blocking e-commerce links doesn’t sit well with those like Sean Blanchfield, CEO of PageFair, a startup that makes money by selling anti-ad blocking tech to publishers.
“There are no privacy or usability implications to e-commerce attribution; it is a simple practice that helps websites get paid for honest recommendations of products,” he said. “The fact that AdBlock blocks publishers from getting a fee when they successfully recommend a product causes unnecessary financial damage to thousands of independent websites. It’s one more case of AdBlock extensions being so blunt that they hurt good websites as well as bad, meaning the first websites to shut down are those AdBlock users love the most.”
WPP’s Rob Reilly on the power of creative excellence
Under Rob Reilly's creative lead, WPP won most creative company at the 2022 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. He talks about that and more in this Q&A.
Amid gloomy forecasts can ad tech weather the storm?
The recent Q2 results suggest there is more resilience and runway in the ad tech sector. But how long before push comes to shove?
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: What Axios’ sale says about the valuation of digital media companies
In this week’s Media Briefing, senior media reporter Sara Guaglione looks at what Axios's sale to Cox Enterprises signals about the current investment market for media companies.
SponsoredWhat gaming habits reveal about media consumption
Jordan Shlachter, head of research, Activision Blizzard Media Entertainment choices have never been more abundant, and gaming has emerged as one of the biggest winners in the battle for audiences’ attention. While gaming’s exponential growth has been well documented — there are currently nearly 3 billion gamers worldwide spanning a diverse set of demographics, interests […]
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research deep dive: Twitter’s strength holds among publishers
There is perhaps no social media platform that is more appropriate for publishers than Twitter. In this Digiday+ Research deep dive, we look at why this is.
La razón por la que Google y Samsung se asociaron con la personalidad de TikTok Addison Rae para una campaña nostálgica de los años 90
Este verano, Google y Samsung han lanzado su último esfuerzo de marketing conjunto, en el que los gigantes de la tecnología y el hardware aprovechan la nostalgia de principios de los años 90 y utilizan a la TikToker Addison Rae como musa de la generación Z. En su nueva campaña publicitaria con Rae, Google cuenta […]