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Facebook suppresses ad blockers to maintain revenues

The social media site now provides a new dashboard to enable users to specify what adverts they don't want to see

Facebook has taken steps to stop users blocking adverts on its websites, in a bid to maintain its core revenue stream.

The company said it had developed technology that lets the social media site overcome advert blocking software.

In a blog post, Andrew Bosworth, vice president for ads and business platform at Facebook, wrote: “When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.”

Bosworth said Facebook would build ad preferences into the platform that would let users stop seeing certain types of adverts.

“If you don’t want to see ads about a certain interest, like travel or cats, you can remove the interest from your ad preferences,” Bosworth wrote in the blog.

At the end of July, in its second-quarter 2016 financial results, Facebook reported advertising revenue was up 63% to $6.24bn, and accounted for 97% of its total revenue.

Profits were up 186% year on year to $2.06bn, while the number of monthly active users is up 15% to 1.71 billion, with 1.57 billion using mobile devices, an increase of 20% year on year and 91% of the total user base.

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The challenge for Facebook, which relies heavily on advertising revenue, is the backlash among users over the level and intrusive nature of the advertising being pushed at them.

Software such as AdBlocker Plus is designed to reduce the number of adverts appearing on internet browser pages.

Cat and mouse

Responding to Bosworth’s post, Ben Williams, communications and operations manager at AdBlocker Plus, wrote: “This is an unfortunate move because it takes a dark path against user choice. But it’s also no reason to overreact: cat-and-mouse games in tech have been around as long as spammers have tried to circumvent spam filters.”

According to some internet reports, AdBlocker Plus itself runs a programme for preferred advertisers, which it whitelists, effectively creating a revenue stream from advertisers.

Facebook’s effort may seem extreme but it is largely a reaction to consumers’ poor experiences of internet advertising.

Predictive analytics

Analyst Gartner recently wrote that consumers’ demands for more personalised and relevant marketing and advertising put pressure on marketing leaders to step up data integration, analysis and use.

As a result, companies are beginning to use predictive analytics to target marketing efforts more precisely, but it is still early days, according to analyst Forrester, and many organisations do not fully understand how to use it effectively.

In a Forrester report, Close the insights-to-action gap with a clear implementation plan, written by senior analyst Brandon Purcell: “The move from descriptive to predictive analytics is not merely a time shift from past to future; it’s also a mind shift from aggregate analysis to individual treatment, from universal insights to personal insights.”

While privacy advocates argue that advertisers seem to know far more about consumers than would be relevant to their campaigns, there is also a sense that the adverts blindly follow browsing habits.

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That's unfortunate. I'm a big fan of AdBlock Plus and I like to see them defending the user's right to choose to block annoying or even malicious ads. I have stopped visiting the Forbes site ever since they decided to block users who don't want to see ads. I also found this really interesting:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160111/05574633295/forbes-site-after-begging-you-turn-off-adblocker-serves-up-steaming-pile-malware-ads.shtml
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I can understand wanting to keep the revenue streams open, but the odds are that suppressing ad blockers is really just going to alienate those uses who use them, as Forbes appears to have done with @abuell.
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