Industry-wide response is needed to tackle adblocking – WFA

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 20 June 2016

The industry needs to tackle consumer frustrations, take a united front and evaluate the overall ad ecosystem if it wants to have a fighting change against the rise of adblocking, reckons CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) Stephan Loerke.

Speaking with AdNews, Loerke outlined this multi-pronged approach, which was first put into motion after PageFair outlined the extent to which consumers block ads on the mobile web.

This month PageFair released data that showed 419 million people, or 22% of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users are blocking ads on the mobile web, with the WFA swiftly pledging to band together to tackle this growing global problem.

“Clearly the online ad experience isn't satisfactory today," Loerke says. "As an industry we need to be getting our heads around what creates [consumer] frustration to create a more sustainable and fertile ground for the advertising industry to grow in the future. 

“This is a very significant challenge for the ad industry, the phenomenon is global and is by no means limited to mature markets,” he added.

The WFA aims to do three key things to take on this issue with the first being to get the industry as a whole to take on this problem. Meaning agencies, publishers and ad tech companies all “co-driving and co-leading" this issue. The second is using data to fully understand what is really frustrating consumers when it comes to online advertising and the third is creating standards that exist across the entire advertising ecosystem.

“I don't want to pretend that there's a miracle solution that's going to wind back adblocking,” he says. “What we know is that this initiative needs to be created to ultimately do right by consumers in the longer run. Will that helps to wind back adblocking? I don't know, but it should help us deliver a better experience and this is what this initiative is all about.”

Loerke also explained to AdNews that today's online metrics may also be a part of the adblocking issue.

“The metrics that we're using today might be falsely reassuring,” he says. “Impressions and clicks are maybe are giving a false reassurance when it comes to actual engagement. They don't reflect the fact that the [ad] experience itself isn't satisfactory,” he added.

When asked about if this task force should have been created sooner, Loerke says: “It could have been done earlier, but we're only really discovering the scale of the challenge now, and the response which we're going to be shaping isn't a straight forward one.

“It's something which hasn't been done on this scale in the past, so it may be difficult to achieve this, but we feel that we have a responsibility to do so now,” he added.

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