AdBlock Plus Throws Brand-Content Publishers A Big Curve

Many of you are aware of AdBlock Plus (you might have it on your browser now) that prevents ads from appearing on Web surfers’ pages.

It’s killing (or severely damaging) many websites that rely on pay-per-click revenue to survive.

A potentially unknown problem for newspapers, magazines, websites and other purveyors of brand content, sponsored content and native advertising is that AdBlock Plus apparently recognizes this content as advertising and blocks the text of these articles (not just banners or other graphics).

After three of my clients (major newspapers) sent me links to the native ads I’ve written for them (posted on their websites after running in print), but I found no content on the page when I arrived. The first time this happened, it took me a while to realize that the content was being blocked by ABP. When I turned off the ABP on that page, my article appeared.

Unless brand-content providers can figure out a way to separate their text from (imbedded?) ads, or determine if ABP is blocking articles with the word “sponsored” or “brand content” somewhere on the page, this will be a problem for publishers – especially if advertisers go to see their content and then…don’t see it!

The Folks at ABP Don’t Like Native Advertising

Native Schmative: They’re Still Ads – Not all of them, Ben Williams (of ABP). You need to update that headline. Or change it to “Sponsored Schmonsored.”

ABP Forum Discussion: Defining Acceptable Native Ads – This is a bit more promising.

Ad Blocking Posing a Growing Challenge to Media Companies – More positive Ben Williams comments.

NOTE TO AdBlock Plus…

I understand your desire to help consumers avoid ads, especially when so many are misleading, sexual or visually distracting to someone trying to read content (animated).

However, some brand content is very helpful for the public, who only get access to that information because an expert shared the research or date or news by buying an ad on a website that had limited editorial space.

Here’s an example of how ABP can hurt unintentionally hurt the public. I wrote an article with a respected preventive cardiologist alerting the public to a variety of surprising heart-disease facts. The article dropped the bombshell that not only does dietary cholesterol NOT contribute to heart disease, but the common eating methods used to avoid cholesterol actually contribute to increased risk of heart disease.

The article discussed the topic, not the doctor who paid for the article. The articles in the series sponsored by this cardiologist cite a number of reputable sources, including the American Heart Association and the FH Foundation. (Note that the above link goes to the doctor’s website – the original native ad is no longer online).

If ABP blocks this type of content because it’s “native” or “sponsored,” it prevents the public from getting this valuable information. Fortunately, based on two of the articles linked above, it looks like ABP is working to address this. However, until that time, legit publishers need to figure out a workaround (which means non-legit publishers will use it – aarrgghh!).

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Hopefully, publishers and the folks at ABP can figure a work around to allow legitimate native advertising (governed by FTC guidelines) to get past ABP filters, without subjecting consumers to endless, 10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Doing Anything But Using This Diet Pill sponsored “articles.”

It looks like ABP is sincerely working on this – anyone have any updates on their efforts, or any suggestions for them? Hopefully, as businesses go after fake news sites with blocking tools, they don’t block sites like The Onion or Washington Weak.