Although ad blocking has been around for years if not decades, it has only recently come to the fore following the release of Apple’s iOS 9.
While a significant percentage of it now occurs in online video viewing on desktops, the proliferation of mobile devices means that they, too, are also increasingly being used.
Sarah Kiefer, head of marketing, EMEA, Ooyala, points out that Apple seems to be taking a more lenient stance towards ad blocking products. In this, she believes it probably has an ulterior motive, being very much in favour of people moving to an app based world in which all content is on apps that sit on the iOS platform rather than the mobile web.
Interestingly, she also says ad blocking is not at present possible in apps.
Kiefer adds that demand for online video advertising inventory is growing as audiences migrate from TV to online video. However, as broadcasters and publishers are now typically losing at least 20% of their inventory to ad blocking, they are starting to fail to deliver campaigns.
Furthermore, “I think there’s also a realisation that consumers who use ad blockers are actually particularly consumers you want to reach because you can’t reach them otherwise”.
Indeed, “there’s been discussion of creating an audience target segment of ad blockers because they are seeing so little advertising”.
Asked about the extent of ad blocking, Kiefer says that it is now a global problem, with rates varying from country to country. In Europe, it is particularly pronounced in Germany, though also significant in France. It is also bigger in the UK than in the US.
While it may not be surprising that it is largely undertaken by certain segments of the community, chiefly young, tech-savvy males, some people use ad blocking, for instance on laptops, without realising they are doing so.
Kiefer believes that if you look at the issue of ad blocking from a publisher’s perspective, they to a large extent rely on advertising to pay for the videos they produce. If viewers don’t want to be involved in the economics of such products, it will obviously have implications on the quality of their content.
So what are the ways in which viewers can be deterred from using ad blockers? Firstly, says Kiefer, one can adopt a “softly softly” approach by sending them a message asking them not to do so.
Secondly, they can be given the option of having no ads in return for paying a subscription. This is currently being tried out by a number of leading publishers, some of which are based in Germany.
However, such a course of action risks losing viewers, who may turn to the many other news sources that are available on the web.
Another option is to use different types of advertising, such as native, which is effectively sponsored content. This is nevertheless more resource intensive to manage and can result in potential editorial conflicts.
For its part, Ooyala is something of a pioneer in plug-in-based anti ad blocking technology, having started investing in this around two years ago. Its core anti-ad-blocking solution, known as Ooyala Pulse Unlock, works by recognising when an ad is going to be blocked and then circumventing that block.
Ooyala also has a range of other products, including its Online Video Platform (OVP), Analytics Solution, Video Content Recommendation Solution, Ad Server and Programmatic Video Solution (SSP).
In addition, it has an impressive and growing list of customers for its products, among them Sky, Telegraph, The Sun, The Times, Arsenal, Chelsea and BFI in the UK; TV3 and RTE in Ireland; and Canal+ and M6 (France) and RTL (Germany) in continental Europe.
Ooyala secured some of these customers, including RTL and M6, when it acquired Videoplaza, Europe’s leading video ad server, just over a year ago. At that time, Videoplaza, now fully integrated with Ooyala, was developing a Supply-Side Platform (SSP), which allows online video advertising to be traded programmatically, and this is now fully operational under the product name Ooyala Pulse.
Programmatic advertising has existed on the display side for some time and is now becoming increasingly popular in video, as well as TV. It uses data and automation to target online video campaigns more effectively, matching up what is needed on the advertising side with what the publisher has in terms of advertising inventory.
Ooyala, says Kiefer, uses its SSP to work with broadcasters, operators and publishers to trade with agencies. It can be employed in a number of ways, including creating marketplaces where anyone can come in and buy; aggregating inventory with other publishers; and creating a private marketplace where you need an invitation to come and buy the dvertising inventory.
Looking ahead to the next two to three years, Kiefer expects to see significant growth in video viewed online, particularly on mobile devices. Viewing on smart TVs and devices such as Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV, too, will become increasingly popular.
She also expects to see broadcasters trade a significant percentage of their advertising programmatically.
Perhaps most importantly, broadcasters will become increasingly aware of the importance of data and will use it to trade advertising more efficiently.
Ooyala, she believes, will be well placed to take advantage of these trends, with data and analytics having always been the way the company has differentiated itself from competing technology solutions.
Further insights into overcoming ad blocking can be found in a White Paper produced by Ooyala. To download a copy, please click here.