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Facebook vs Ad Blockers

It’s no secret that there’s a whole bunch of people out there that don’t want to see ads when they’re on the internet or social media. A leading ad blocker, Adblock Plus, has been downloaded over 500 million times! It’s also no secret that websites like Facebook rely on ad revenue to survive.

Those competing interests seem to have come to a crossroads with Facebook’s recent announcement about changes to how it will deliver ads to users. The announcement describes two updates.

First, Facebook will make more of an effort to show users only the ads they want to see. They’re doing this by making the Ad Preferences tool easier to use. This tool allows users to stop seeing ads for specific interests and to remove themselves from a brand’s uploaded customer list.

The second update described in the announcement is the big one. Facebook essentially declared war on ad blockers by saying, “…we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.”

As you can imagine, the creators of ad blocking software weren’t big fans of this announcement – and they fired back quickly. Within a few days, Adblock Plus announced that they had already found a workaround to the Facebook update that would allow them to continue to block Facebook ads. Since that post, Facebook has updated at least one more time to get their ads through the blockers and Adblock Plus has created at least one more workaround to overcome that update.

Since they’re trading punches so quickly, who knows where things stand as you’re reading this post. On the one hand, it seems almost impossible for Facebook to permanently get ads through the blockers while complying with the FTC regulations that require them to mark ads as sponsored content, as MIT Technology Review pointed out in this article. On the other hand, the Facebook team is packed with intelligent engineers with a lot of resources at their disposal. Maybe they know something the ad blockers don’t or maybe they’ve simply created a team of people who will work full time to overcome the ad blockers’ updates as they happen.

Regardless of how this shakes out, it’s good news for your brand. The advertising that’s most effective is always the advertising that is most relevant and valuable to the audience it’s shown to. If Facebook wants to beat the ad blockers without facing a huge backlash from the significant number of users who use ad blocking software, they’re going to have to get better at showing only the advertising that is relevant and valuable to each user.

With those changes to the Ad Preferences tool and more frequent newsfeed surveys attached to ads, they’re working to do exactly that. This means that the Facebook advertising of the future will be able to leverage huge amounts of direct user feedback in addition to all the data they already have about their users. That will almost certainly result in better ad targeting and, therefore, better results from your Facebook advertising.

If Facebook is ultimately successful in beating the ad blockers, it’s even more good news because it will allow you reach a whole new audience of people. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Most of the people using ad blockers strongly believe that all advertising is bad. To get them to actually engage with your advertising, you’ll need to make more of an effort to create high quality ads that are relevant to their interests and that actually provide some value to them. Do that well, and you’re destined for success.