Facebook’s stand against ad blocking

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Facebook really doesn’t want you to block ads. Who can blame them? Generally social media sites are struggling to monetise the huge amounts of web traffic visiting; if a significant proportion of people blocked advertising this could eventually make social media businesses unsustainable. Given the risk ad blocking poses to the advertising industry, Facebook had to make a stand.

We’re all waiting for Twitter to be taken over, Yahoo (despite promising) has ruined Tumblr, and everyone is still scratching their heads about Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion as their valuation doesn’t match reality.

Despite the popularity of social media and increased internet usage, finding a successful online business model seems near impossible. The rumours say that The Guardian is losing £1 million a week and only has 7 years of life left at this rate, City AM is trying another daring business model (best of luck to them), and Buzzfeed is proving profitable but needs to navigate the fact 70% of their readers digest content from third-party sites, such as social networks.

A broad view of online profitability tells us that quickly adapting to market needs and positioning your business as a facilitator tends to reap dividends. We can see how Uber achieved this by making the private taxi business more convenient by mobile app bookings and coordinating via GPS. The music industry was slow to respond; illegally sharing files through LimeWire was once the mainstream method of gaining access to digital music online. Eventually legal methods of buying music online became available, such as the launch of the iTunes store in 2003.

In my opinion, the most successful industry that has constantly adapted to the changing media landscape is gaming. The UK is currently Europe’s second largest video game market after Germany, and estimated the 6th largest globally; worth nearly £4.2bn in consumer spend in 2015. It is the only industry that has quickly adapted to different form factors such as desktop PCs, tablets, smartphones, smart watches, and smart TVs. Games consoles have become home entertainment systems, and game copyright settings have successfully locked most people into purchasing a copy each time.

So, why am I taking you on this journey of online monetisation?

Going back to the start of this post, Facebook’s stand against ad blocking; they believe online advertisements can truly be useful. Those advertisements can alert you to when a favourite band is playing nearby or to a product/service you may genuinely find useful.

What they don’t say is that the ads you don’t deem useful are still using up your mobile contract’s data allowance. Or the disruption ads have made to Facebook’s newsfeed meaning content from your friends has been given a lesser priority compared to that ad looking for sperm donors or telling you to lose weight.

Facebook have weighed in on the online advertising debate to protect their $1 billion per quarter in advertising revenue. The question is how are we going to respond as social media users? Are we willing to have companies target us with their advertising, generalising aspects of our lives and trying to find improvements?

Facebook wants you to keep your ad blocker switched off and convince you to tell the network what sort of advertisements you would prefer to see. A nice idea, but why do I want to spend my time giving Facebook a detailed picture of my life just so they can push more advertising to me?

The debate I’ve touched upon here will continue to rage, especially as the number of bot traffic online continues to rise, questioning if ad interactions are made by humans at all. Just as the PR industry has faced its struggles and criticisms over the last decade due to digital developments, the advertising industry will now need to tackle some of its upcoming challenges.

Anyway… some thoughts from me as this blog has been neglected for the past month!

How can companies manage their reputations online? [EVENT]

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How can regulated companies use social media for business results?

How can you convince C-Suite that managing and measuring reputation should be a priority?

How can data be used to better manage online reputation?

Please join us for an afternoon debate at Lansons about reputation management as an independent event for Social Media Week London, on Thursday 15 September, from 3.30pm to 5.00pm.

Our expert panel will be discussing how companies can manage their reputations in the digital age. Our influential panel has been specifically selected to represent a range of opinions, based on knowledge and practical experience.

The debate will feature an extensive Q&A section, with opportunities to quiz the panel and provide comment.

To register for a place at this event, please email[email protected] with your full details. Please note that we will confirm your place via email. We’re an independent Social Media Week London event, so you’ll need to book a place in advance and won’t be able to gain entry using your official SMW pass.

Speaking on the panel will be:

Francesco D’Orazio, Co-Founder and Vice President of Product and Research at Pulsar

Francesco is Vice President of Product at social analytics firm Pulsar, Chief Innovation Officer at innovation consultancy FACE and Co-Founder at the Visual Social Media Lab. He designs systems and research frameworks that help analyse social data and extract insights from social data using computational social science and data visualisation. He is a regular speaker at research, innovation and technology conferences such as Big Data Week, Social Media Week, Social Data Week, Strata, WARC, MRS, Esomar, Virtual Worlds Forum, World Business Forum. 

Magnus Boyd, Partner at Schillings

Magnus protects individual and corporate reputations by helping clients to manage unwanted media attention. He is frequently called upon before stories are published or broadcast to prevent inaccuracy and stop businesses and prominent individuals from being defamed or private information being published. Magnus also advises on information security and manages the risk to reputation that arises in the event of data loss. He is ranked as a leader in his field in Chambers & Partners and the Spear’s 500 Index. 

Ed Coke, Director of Consulting Services at Reputation Institute

Ed leads the advisory team at Reputation Institute, a research-based consultancy that measures the reputations of the largest and most visible companies around the world. He provides senior communications and marketing executives at global companies the single-best way to measure, communicate and manage reputation performance. With this insight, companies can protect their reputations, analyse risks and drive competitive advantage.

Rebecca Mayo, Joint Managing Director at Lansons

Over the last decade Rebecca has been responsible for many sector-leading and award-winning campaigns, including: the launch of Metro Bank, Britain’s first new high street bank in over 100 years; the five year market-leading thought leadership programme for life and pensions giant Scottish Widows;  the re-positioning and re-launching of Asda Money; the launch and decade long consumer champion programme for MoneySuperMarket; the integrated PR and PA campaign for the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion; and the decade long corporate and retail programme for Invesco Perpetual, including the recent departure of its star fund manager Neil Woodford. Rebecca has significant experience managing corporate issues ranging from FSA fines, non-compliant marketing communications, mis-selling, mergers and acquisitions, exiting markets, complex pricing strategies, and difficult underwriting decisions.