Adblocking: a cat-and-mouse game built on trust

Adblocking is a hot topic these days. A never ending cat and mouse game between advertisers and consumers in which ingenious developers are constantly finding new ways of avoiding or trying to avoid advertising pressure. What Adblocking is showing us too is a lack of trust on the part of consumers. Who else but Doc Searls, one of the co-writers of the celebrated Cluetrain Manifesto was in better position to raise the subject? This is exactly what he did at our late September meeting in Prague*. Once more, consumer trust ranked high on the agenda.

“Adblocking is becoming a big deal and it’s even one of the biggest downloads and even more so in certain countries like Germany and Austria” Doc said in his introduction to the subject. “This has grown and grown and journalists are describing it as a War now”. Even better, Apple has made this decision to add adblocking in the IOS 9 SDK. You will then be able to block whatever you want. “Immediately after this change” Doc said, “Adblockers became the most popular apps on the store”. 

Adblockers-Trust-consumers
Doc Searls talking about Adblocking in front of the panel of ODR experts at the Prague September meeting organised by Youstice

Adblocking: Apple knows before consumers they really need it

“It’s very easy for the Press to describe this as an Apple vs Google feud” Doc added “but the point is somewhere else”. Doc’s argument is that Apple is making it easy for consumers, because “they know what the customers want even before they know themselves what they want”. Apple has indeed taught us to expect the unexpected, offer products we don’t need apparently, and then once the object has been created we suddenly realise we are craving for it.

One of the interesting things about the Adblock controversies is that it emphasises that our world works through advertising. “But online, the junk-mail world has taken over and this isn’t what we were expecting” Doc added. Things have gone out of control. The publishing world acts as if they didn’t understand what is happening. To them, this is how the world works and that’s that but “we, as consumers, we have never signed up for this”.

Why do we need trust in business?

Lea Whing has an interesting point to make on this. when Doc Searls mentions trust, what are we hearing? “Are we only interested in trust because this is what will trigger consumer purchase?” She asked wittily, “or is it because people need it? If so, what do customers really need?”

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