Fuming over the declining revenue in the advertising business, a top ad executive has lashed out at ad-blocking companies, calling them "immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes."
Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an organisation that develops industry standards for the online advertising industry, delivered a fiery speech at the firm's annual Leadership Summit this week. Interactive Advertising Bureau represents many prominent media outlets globally.
Rothenberg said ad-blocking companies are "disingenuous" crooks that are threatening the media business, posing a risk to the freedom of speech, and furthermore, could harm the future of journalism.
"They are stealing from publishers, subverting freedom of the press, operating a business model predicated on censorship of content, and ultimately forcing consumers to pay more money for less - and less diverse - information," Rothenberg said.
Talking about Adblock Plus, the popular ad-blocking tool that just recently hit 500 million downloads, Rothenberg said it is an "old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in the flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism." The companies offering such tools, according to him, are "self-proclaimed libertarians whose liberty involves denying freedom to everyone else."
Ad-blocking tools have been around for over a decade, however, their usage has increased significantly only in the recent times. Many people learned about ad-blocking tools only after Apple introduced a feature in iOS 9 that allows its users to block ads on their mobile devices.
According to data from GlobalWebIndex, a firm that studies on the digital consumer, there has been a record rise in the adoption rate of ad-blocking tools. According to the firm, adblocking has become almost as popular on mobile devices as on desktops. Almost 40 percent users that the firm surveyed said they were using an adblocking tool.
Many outlets are experimenting with different ways to curtail the revenue losses incurring due to the growing usage of ad-blocking tools by their readers. While some are contemplating or sticking with advertising partners that offer non-intrusive ads, others are just asking their readers to stop using ad-blockers when visiting their website. Forbes last month started to block those readers who used ad-blocking tools when visiting its website. The publication requested such users to stop using ad-blocking tools and found that in less than a month, more than 40 percent readers obliged to the firm's request.
But that solution might not work for every publication, which is why many of them are criticising the practices of ad-blocking companies, asking them to shut their stores. Last year Eyeo EmbH, the maker of Adblock Plus, announced "Acceptable Ads" platform. Through the program, it accepted payments from around 70 companies and in return allowed them to run ads through its filter. This practice has led many to question the dubious nature of adblocking companies.