- Facebook plans to circumvent users of ad blocking software by changing how it serves ads on desktop, making its ad units much more difficult to block.
- The social media platform instead plans to give users more control over the ad experience, allowing them to set preferences for the types of ads they don't want to see.
- Facebook made the move after the company commissioned research that found 69% of users said disruptive ads were the main factor in adopting ad blocking software.
The war over ad blocking has come to Facebook. The social media platform, whose business is providing value to both users and advertisers, is hoping to thread the needle with its approach to the ad blocking challenge: It plans to circumvent users of ad blocking software, while still giving them some measure of control over the ads they see. The move gives Facebook more control over both the advertising and user experiences, and forces ad-blocking consumers to adapt within Facebook's walled garden.
Facebook's approach could signal a shift in the ad blocking debate. Industry organizations and federal regulators (at least for now) have no real teeth in enforcing any type of standard that improves the user experience. With more than 1.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook's dominance in the online advertising space gives the platform the reach with users and the authority with advertisers to find potential solutions to ad blocking.
Users have been adopting ad blocking software in growing numbers, with a poor user experience being the main reason for ad blocking adoption. Disruptive ads include ads that block content on webpages, pop up with sound, and cause pages to load slowly, Adam Isaacson, research director of Ipsos Connect, wrote to Adweek. Users want a personalized online experience, and Facebook plans to give it to them through its new "ad preferences" tool.
"When they're relevant and well-made, ads can be useful, by helping us find new products and services and introducing us to new experiences—like an ad that shows you your favorite band is coming to town or an amazing airline deal to a tropical vacation," Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's VP of ads and business platform, wrote in a blog post. "But because ads don't always work this way, many people have started avoiding certain websites or apps, or using ad blocking software, to stop seeing bad ads. These have been the best options to date."