Facebook takes aim at ad blockers

Facebook is looking to put a stop to ad blocking with new technology that will stop ad blocking software identifying what content is an ad and what is not.


Facebook is looking to tackle the problem of ad blocking with a software update that makes ads indistinguishable from normal posts for ad blocking software.

Marketing Week understands this new technology will work by stopping ad blockers from identifying which Facebook ‘posts’ are ads, and which are not, on people’s news feeds. It will still be clear to Facebook users which content is paid for, however.

“Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show, we are putting control in people’s hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls,” Andrew Bosworth, vice-president of pages and advertising at Facebook says in a blog post.

“As we offer people more powerful controls, we will also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.”

According to the latest IAB stats 22% of British adults are using ad blockers, with that number highest among younger internet users. And the IAB has welcomed Facebook’s move

Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, says: For hundreds of years, advertising and marketing have been central to the delivery of entertainment and services that are otherwise free to consumers. In addition, advertising is essential to the functioning of democratic capitalism; it is how consumers and citizens learn about better prices, better features, better job opportunities, and even better political candidates.

“Facebook should be applauded for its leadership on preserving a vibrant value exchange with its users. Its decision to respect advertising as an essential ingredient in connecting users worldwide is spot-on, and should be replicated across the free and open internet.”

Facebook is not the only publisher looking to counter the rise of ad blockers. Last year, business publication City AM became the first UK publisher to implement anti-ad blocking technology on its website after a successful trial.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph Media Group revealed in March that it has been asking readers to add The Telegraph website to a whitelist so that it can still show ads alongside its content.

Giving users control

Besides combatting ad blocking head-on, the social media giant is also looking to make its ad preferences easier to use, so users can stop seeing certain types of advertisements. Facebook says these improvements are designed to give people “even more control” over how their data informs the ads they see.

“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 comments.

“We also heard that people want to be able to stop seeing ads from businesses or organisations that have added them to their customer lists, and so we are adding tools that allow people to do this.”


Learn more about digital innovation at the Festival of Marketing, which is running on the 5 and 6 October at Tobacco Dock, London. For more information about the event, including how to book tickets, click here.

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