In a real-world example of Mad Magazine's "Spy vs. Spy" comic strip, Facebook announced on Tuesday that it's now blocking ad-blocking software programs that its users had employed to stop the ubiquitous ads on Facebook's desktop website.
By doing an end-run on ad-blocking programs, Facebook is looking to further cash in on its digital ads, according to a story by The New York Times. Similar to the whole debate about DVRs skipping commericals, Facebook and other online entities, such as The NYT and The Wall Street Journal, are banking on digital ads to increase their bottom lines.
The NYT story said that Facebook is drawing a bead on "signifiers" in ads that blockers use to "detect whether something is an ad." To counter those measures, Facebook is making the digital ads indistinguishable from the non-ad content.
In order for the blockers to get past Facebook's new defensive line, they'll need to analyze the contents of the ads themselves, which would be a costly and time-consuming process.
The NYT said that Facebook serves up ads to more than 1.7 million users globally, so the stakes are high even though it risks alienating some of those users. Facebook users who were using ad-blocking software will no doubt take to their respective pages to bemoan the change once the ads start cropping up.
Facebook also said on Tuesday that it was rolling out an updated version of its ad preference tool. The ad preference tool will let users opt out of seeing some ads on the site, which means Facebook will be able to serve up more targeted ads instead.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation