There’s a huge fight happening in your Facebook News Feed right now – and we’re not talking about all those guys from your high school arguing about political memes.
We’re talking about the ongoing feud between Facebook and ad-blocking plugins like Adblock Plus, which has recently escalated into a good old-fashioned turf war with you at the center!
On the surface, this might seem like it doesn’t have much to do with you – like it’s just another behind-the-scenes disagreement that’ll come and go without affecting your day-to-day life.
But this dispute has already started affecting how Facebook works – both for users and for anyone who uses ads.
Whether you’re one of ABP’s 300 million users, you’re an advertiser, or you’re just minding your own business like a fruit cart in a car chase, this is already changing the way you experience Facebook.
The question is, how? And why?
Facebook’s beef with ad blockers
Ad blockers work by identifying and hiding all kinds of ads within a page – banners, pop-ups, videos, and so on.
For the average user, that probably sounds pretty great!
For businesses like Facebook, though, not so much. After all, websites that are free for users and visitors have to make money somehow – and if ads aren’t showing, why would advertisers pay for them?
In May 2016, 42% of Facebook Pages used paid ads – and that’s a lot of businesses to try to make happy!
Then there’s the matter of fairness.
While different ad blocking plugins give users varying degrees of control over whether or not they see certain ads on certain sites, there’s also some question about what role those sites may play, as well.
ABP, for example, has made money by charging major companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon to have their ads unblocked by the service. (Users can still manually choose to block them from their individual settings.)
Facebook has made a point about refusing to shell out for similar privileges, citing the practice as confusing and against their ideals. (They also say that ad blockers may erroneously block posts from friends and family, too.)
Like a lot of websites, Facebook doesn’t like ad blocking.
So they decided to do something about it.
And that’s where it gets really interesting…
Facebook’s alternative (and ABP fights back)
In August 2016, Facebook started by deploying a site change that would block ad blockers from working.
Then ABP released a workaround so that users could keep hiding ads on Facebook.
Then Facebook released another update blocking ABP’s workaround.
(And so on, and so on.)
While the two companies are locked in a back-and-forth battle over the right to show (or block) ads, Facebook is also working on updates that make it easier to block ads natively.
Basically, Facebook figures that if people don’t like the ads they’re seeing, then those people should be able to make them go away. It won’t get rid of ads altogether, but users will at least be able to control the types of ads they see!
That’s why Facebook is so transparent about why you see certain ads.
They figure you have the right to know why you’ve been targeted for something – and you can get that information from any ad that shows up in your News Feed.
If you’ve ever created an ad on Facebook, you know how important it is to target the right audience. Advertisers choose who sees their ads based not only on demographic information like age and location, but on interests.
Facebook makes it easy to see which of your interests are influencing ads – and which ones can’t.
From your ad preferences page, you can take a look at your interests, and even preview the types of ads you might see based on each one:
If you don’t like the types of ads that are influenced by that interest, you can tell Facebook right then and there to quit factoring it in, so you’ll see ads that are relevant to other interests, instead!
Facebook is giving users more and more control over what they see in their News Feeds – and that means advertisers have to do a better job than ever before!
Doing a better job means doing things like studying your fans’ demographics and interests, so you can target people more accurately.
It means sticking to messaging that’ll make you stand out to people who have never heard of you (but have heard of your competitors).
Empowering users to control the ads in their feeds is a big move in Facebook’s war on ad blocking – and it’s raising the standards for anyone who has ever paid for reach in the News Feed.
Permanently banishing an advertiser from the News Feed is easier than ever, so if your ads aren’t up to snuff, users might start giving ‘em the boot!
Are you on Team Facebook, or Team Blocker?
It could be a while before Facebook and ABP call a ceasefire – heck, it could be never.
In the meantime, what do you think of Facebook’s alternative solution to blocking ads?
Does it seem effective to you as a user? Does it concern you as an advertiser? If you’re using an ad-blocking program, could Facebook convince you not to?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!