What Marketers Need to Know about Facebook Banning Ad Blockers

17 August 2016

What Marketers Need to Know about Facebook Banning Ad Blockers

Ad blocking technology may be popular with web users to make their browsing experience more streamlined but, for websites and apps that rely on ads financially, they are leading to a growing crisis.

In response to the increasing use of ad blockers on the web, Facebook has introduced a new way to subvert ad blockers on its website so that, even if a user has an ad blocker installed, they will see ads on the Facebook site regardless. The site has achieved this by establishing how the ad blockers recognise an ad, and then using this information to make its ads look like normal content to the software.

Despite the fact that only 16% of Facebook’s traffic comes via desktop browsers, the almost $100 million it made from desktop ads in Q2 2016 demonstrates that it is well worth taking this step, for the social media giant.

Facebook’s focus has not stretched to mobile browser users because fewer mobile users use ad blockers at this point. It is also generally not possible to block ads within the Facebook app on mobile devices.

Although Facebook’s move to block ad blockers on desktop browsers may irritate some users, the site is also offering some extra control over how they can be targeted by advertisers. Using its Ad Preferences Tool, users can see which brands have created Custom Audiences that include them. Custom Audiences can be created when a Facebook user visits a brand’s website or gives them their email address.

With this information, Facebook users will be able to block brands from targeting them with ads. They can also opt out of ads that are related to specific interests, such as Hobbies and Entertainment or Family and Relationships.

For marketers, this means that some of their targeting options may be somewhat limited, if users do take the time to remove their permission to target. Most likely, this will be carried out by some of the more tech-savvy users of the site, and ignored by those less confident with changing settings in the background.

So, even though some users will block ads from particular advertisers or verticals, at the same time, ads will be more visible to users who had previous installed ad-blocking software on their desktop browser. This is, overall, good news for the many businesses that advertise on Facebook, as they can be confident that their ads will be viewed by a higher number of the site’s users.