A blog about online video

Time to Call the User Off the Bench

by Brendan Bourke on November 11, 2015 , No comments

As both sides of the ad blocking debate continue to make their case, staunchly defending their respective sides at all costs, something is missing from the arguments made.  Can we really say that the interests and opinions of users have ever truly been taken into consideration during the years of development of both ad tech and more recently, ad blocking?

“But aren’t the ad blockers defending users, aren’t they representing their interests?”, some might ask. Yes, to a point. And no.

Are ad blockers such as Shine who work with mobile operators to introduce ad blocking at the carrier level truly interested in consumer choice? Or are they more interested in providing a service and being paid for that service? Of course it’s the latter. And there’s nothing wrong with that commercially, as long as it’s not dressed up as something else entirely. Make no mistake, ad blocking is a growing industry and it will attract opportunists more than it does those kneeling at the altar of better user experience, with selfless concerns over users’ maxed-out data packages. But then again, this also happened in the world of ad tech, and so here we are today.

This won’t be fixed by ad industry players giving their opinions on new formats at conferences, webinars and industry events.

In the ad world we often hear of new formats that are “less intrusive” and “more acceptable” to users than others. A case in point here being outstream video formats, where one portion of an ad industry room will say it’s a beautiful thing, better for users than pre-roll ever was, while others will argue that it’s simply Display 2.0 and further detracting from an already degraded user experience.

But what do users/readers/consumers, not ad tech or ad industry folk, think of these and other developments. The fact is we really don’t have a clue, and we’ve rarely if ever asked the question in a consistent, structured manner. What we do know is that somewhere along the way a line was crossed that meant advertising went too far and the delicate balance between ads and content/user experience was, for some, lost.

This won’t be remedied by advertising execs giving their opinions on new technologies and formats at industry events, webinars and in boardroom meetings. Let’s learn some lessons, get users intrinsically involved in the game and then we can start to restore some balance.

What are your thoughts? Get in touch. 

Brendan BourkeTime to Call the User Off the Bench