Ad blocking is leading to 'the slow death of niches' on the web

Small online publishers are seeing a double impact from ad blocking on traffic and revenue, according to a new report from PageFair.

PageFair sells anti-ad blocking solutions to publishers, so it is in the company’s interests to show how terribe ad blocking is.

As users begin blocking ads, smaller publishers will temporarily see an uptick in traffic, when users can access the full site without ads. After a year and a half, traffic falls because, according to PageFair, sites can no longer afford to keep producing high-quality work. Traffic can fall by an average of 8% after nearly three years.

Johnny Ryan, PageFair’s Head of Ecosystem told Business Insider in an interview: “What we’re talking about is the death, the slow death of niches and of diversity on the web. This is happening at the same that we have a media dupoloy (in Facebook and Google which show ads to ad blocking users).”

Page FairPageFairPageFair simulated a website from 0% of users blocking ads to 25% using ad blockers.

He added: “We know ad blocking affects revenue, we didn’t know that ad blocking also has this double impact in that it affects traffic, which also affects revenue and search engine ranking and all of that.

“It’s a hidden pain for the small and medium publisher and will be a very big pain for the large publisher.”

Websites in the top 20% of Alexa rankings were so far unaffected by the decline, which PageFair said was a result of larger websites selling premium online ads directly to advertisers.

But even that may not last according to the lead researcher Dr. Ben Shiller: “If more people start to use ad blockers, eventually these larger websites will have to be impacted.”

In January PageFair revealed that ad blocking had gone up by 30% in 2016 and predicted that it would continue to grow.

The result for larger publishers will be a shift to subscriber models. “We’ll see a reduced quality but the internet isn’t going to disappear,” Shiller said. “A few websites will just start to charge for access and they may not earn nearly as much as they used to under an advertising model but they will earn something. There will still be content on the web, it’s just a question of quality.”

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