Facebook has rolled out an update to their site’s code to quash ad blockers, stressing the point that ads are how the site makes its money. We’ve seen a retaliation from Adblock Plus after only 2 days and it’s quickly becoming clear that Facebook might be fighting a losing battle.
It’s been widely reported that there’s somewhat of a ransom culture in the industry, with some ad blocking companies accepting money in exchange for showing ads they previously blocked. These so-called ad block profiteers are approaching publishers and demanding a substantial portion of their revenues in order to be included in a ‘white list’.
Facebook, however, refuses to pay this ransom and has decided to take on the ad blockers through making it much harder for them to block the right thing.
For users of ad blocking software that may be unhappy of ads now appearing, Facebook is counting on their newly updated Ad Preference controls to neutralise the response. Using the new controls, users can select not to view certain types of ads or ads from specific businesses. This should lead to more relevant ads, however, the new controls do not give an easy way for users to select never to see ads for certain product categories.
How they’re blocking ad blockers
So how are they managing to block the blockers? Many publishers depend on third-party ad serving companies where the ad code is easy to identify and therefore block. Facebook, on the other hand, controls their own ad serving in-house and has made changes to its code so that its ads and normal content are indistinguishable between each other. The content and ads are distributed at the same time and in the same tags, ad blockers therefore should find it much more difficult to filter them out.
Facebook quickly Foiled
It all sounded good, however, only 2 days later Facebook's plan to block the ad blockers had already been foiled. Adblock Plus found a way to remove ads from Facebook, even when they were delivered in the new ad blocker-proof format. It’s since been reported that this new method is flawed and in its attempt to remove ads, Adblock Plus is also removing regular posts.
Flawed as it may be, this quick retaliation is bad news for Facebook. It is possible Facebook has more tricks up its sleeve to take on the ad blockers but it’s unlikely that it will get involved in this sort of back-and-forth battle. Facebook wants to display its ads, but it’s doubtful it will devote the time and resources to outsmarting the ad blockers every few days.
For those who don’t use Ad blockers, the new ad preference controls will allow more control over what you see on your feed. For those who do use ad blocking services, watch this space – will Facebook battle the ad blockers again?