Ad Blocking, And The Radio
March 1, 2016
Users of the UK's "3" cellphone network will shortly be missing something when they use their mobile phones to surf the web: adverts. 3 has done a deal with a company called Shine to filter out ads on its network. No more ads, as long as you're with 3. An interesting offer.
Ad-blocking like this isn't, actually, that easy.
- According to my research, 75% of mobile use is actually via wifi, not via mobile data: particularly relevant for radio apps. If you're using wifi, you're not using 3's network, so you'll still get the ads.
- On mobile, we spend a lot of our time within apps, like the Facebook app. There are ads in there, but not standard banner ads. Given that Facebook app traffic is encrypted, this technology probably can't block those so-called "native" ads.
- Ad-blocking is also quite hard on encrypted websites (those that start 'https'). I've seen cellular networks, and free wifi providers, change things in websites - sometimes swapping out ad banners to be ones sold by the wifi operator. That is much harder once you encrypt websites.
Ad-blocking - currently at around 30% on my own (ad-supported) website - is clearly something worth thinking about in terms of your digital strategy.
For most radio stations I've worked with, ad banner revenue doesn't account for much. Most salespeople would rather sell advertorial or sponsorship: that's where the money is, instead of an irritating flashing ad banner.
Back in October 2014, I noted that the redesign for the UK's Absolute Radio website had omitted any banner advertising. There was a good reason for this, as I discovered from their Digital Product Director, Anthony Abbott. He felt chasing page impressions was irrelevant. Most engagement with radio stations now happens away from websites, he said: particularly on social media and within mobile apps. He thinks radio stations should concentrate on earning revenue online by getting the audience to sign in and listen.
There's certainly some validity to that view. I suspect removing banner ads from your website won't result in much loss of revenue, and will result in quicker pages, longer user sessions, higher placings by Google in the search results, and ultimately better listening figures for your radio station content...which we probably all want.
Radio streams aren't, by the way, immune to ad blocking, though I've heard some people say so (and I have, too, on occasion). Pandora has many ad blockers available for it. Spotify does too. And it's certainly technically possible to block many of the ads that you hear on personalized ad-replacement radio streams: it just takes your station to be popular enough, and a determined hacker.
You can get my weekly newsletter at james.crid.land, and until next time - keep listening.