Punished For Using Ad Blockers? The EU Says, Yes

Punished for using ad blockersWith so many publishers struggling to secure a stable revenue stream, it can sometimes feel that the number of defeats for digital publishers far outweigh the victories. However, the announcement earlier this month that the European Union is proposing a rule which stipulates digital publishers can refuse to display content to users who don’t turn off their ad blockers is without doubt one of the triumphs.

The proposed reform would mean that users still have “the freedom to install software on their devices that disables the display of advertisement”. However, it would also mean websites are able to detect a user’s ability to receive all their content and act accordingly.

This means that in the future, publishers could be within their legal rights to prohibit ad blockers – as a number of publishers, such as the German Bild.de, already do.

The EU has always been strongly in favour of protecting the privacy rights of users. This new regulation, explains an article on Forbes, is no different, focusing on “stronger privacy rules for electronic communications.” However, the regulation also flags up the fact that so-called ‘free’ online content is often funded by advertising.

With more than 90% of Europeans in favour of data protection, European online privacy rules were launched last year, designed to give greater clarity on how data is used, deleted and when it has been hacked.

The proposed new rule is in response to the uncertainty about whether websites are allowed to restrict the use of ad blockers. The key argument from privacy advocates is that websites must have permission from users to access their devices.

According to a report by PageFair and Priori Data, 300 million people around the globe now use a variation of mobile ad-blocking. The resulting cost to publishers, estimates the report, is $22 billion. It is anticipated this figure will rise to $27 billion by 2020.

It hardly seems fair that our industry should be lumbered with such hefty losses…

Date Published : 27th of January 2017

Steve Odart

Published by : Steve Odart

About the Author : Steve Odart is the founder of Ixxus, with 28 years experience in the publishing industry. He started life at the London College of Printing, following his grandfather into the printing industry. He spent many years working with Quark through its launch of Quark XPress, and the Quark Publishing System, before setting up a publishing division within one of the UK’s largest Sun Microsystems Resellers. He then joined Oracle, as EMEA Business Development Director – Publishing and Media, prior to founding Ixxus in 2004. Steve has an extensive knowledge of publishing past, present and future, and has worked with the majority of the largest global publishers in his career to date.