Facebook is promising to adjust your newsfeed the way you want it to look like in terms of what ads you do or don’t want to see. But, wait. That’s not all. The social networking giant is also making the HTML of its web ads indistinguishable from organic content so that it can slip by ad-blockers.
The move shows how serious is Facebook to tackle the increasingly popular and controversial ad-blocking softwares.
"We are making it harder for ad blockers to be effective on Facebook for desktop," says Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of ads and business platform.
Facebook had commissioned research firm Ipsos to investigate why reports say that 70 million Americans and nearly 200 million people worldwide use adblockers. It found that “The main reasons cited for using ad blockers include avoiding disruptive ads (69 percent), ads that slow down their browsing experience (58 percent) and security / malware risks (56 percent).” As privacy wasn’t the top answer, so, Facebook thinks if it can make its ads non-interruptive, fast, and secure, people won’t mind.
Bosworth says that, “Part of the mission of the company is to create connections between people and businesses,” which adblockers prevent. At the same time, Boz says “Ads on Facebook don’t pay for Facebook for one person. They pay for a service that’s free around the world. The participation of everyone really helps the global community.”
According to the advertising industry ad-blocking software costs billions of dollars a year in lost revenue and violates an implicit social compact: People agree to be targeted by ads to consume free content and services.
It’s important to note that Facebook is largely immune to ad-blocking which typically does not work in mobile apps, where Facebook users spend the most time and Facebook makes the most advertising revenue. But the Silicon Valley tech giant is closely tracking the proliferation of ad blockers and their growing reach on mobile devices.
Facebook had listed ad-blocking software as a risk in its most recent quarterly filing. "Revenue generated from the display of ads on personal computers has been impacted by these technologies from time to time," Facebook said in the filing. "As a result, these technologies have had an adverse effect on our financial results and, if such technologies continue to proliferate, in particular with respect to mobile platforms, our future financial results may be harmed."
Facebook makes nearly all of its revenue from advertising. It generated $6.44 billion in revenue in the second quarter, easily topping Wall Street estimates. Mobile represented 84 percent of the $6.24 billion in advertising revenue Facebook collected. Advertisers are flocking to Facebook to reach the 1.71 billion users who are hanging out there.