More signs of move away from 'blanket ad-blocking'

The future of ad-blocking has been called into question after some of those behind the software widened the scope of their businesses.

Rainbow: ad-blocker Shine has relaunched as an ad-verification service
Rainbow: ad-blocker Shine has relaunched as an ad-verification service

One such tech company, Shine, dropped its ad-blocker two weeks ago when it introduced an ad-vetting service and rebranded as Rainbow. 

The decision followed Eyeo, which owns Adblock Plus, launching an ad exchange in December 2016 that it said moved away from "blanket ad-blocking". 

Both of these services operate on a vetting or whitelist policy that consumers can opt into. 

Shine chief revenue officer James Collier told Campaign that its change in direction came from a "business need".

He added: "[Shine] did not have a monetisation model; no-one paid Shine for access to the consumer. The original management did not fully understand the ad industry and the dialogue they started with them was wrong. It has taken a change in management, product and brand to restart that conversation."

Industry fears over ad-blocking reached a peak in 2016, when marketers responded by setting up the Coalition for Better Ads, backed by Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Group M.

However, a recent study by the Internet Advertising Bureau found that the number of ad-blocker users is stabilising at about 22% of the UK’s internet audience, suggesting that it has hit saturation point. 

Bill Fischer, a senior analyst at eMarketer, said that there is a viable future for companies that return to their original aim of "getting the industry to serve fewer and better ads".

He predicted that in the long term there will be a "far more responsible digital advertising environment" in which consumers are happy to receive ads for free content.

There are likely to be "big developments in opt-in advertising in 2017", Matt Berriman, chief executive and co-founder of Unlockd, predicted, "whether that is through verification services like Rainbow to ensure that ads meet the standards consumers desire" or "delivering tangible rewards for consumers in exchange for their attention, like free access to premium content or money-saving offers".

Ben Poole, chief digital officer at MEC UK, also expressed doubt that pure-play ad-blocking businesses were a viable business proposition, claiming that their young users "aren’t prepared to pay for things like this".

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