Premium Times is my best Nigerian newspaper – it has the latest meaningful updates and is clearly unbiased. Yes, PT follows the facts and has shown that for years. But PT is evolving as an ecosystem with adverts everywhere. Unfortunately, display advertising is a race to the bottom: Google and Facebook have killed news publishing and what remains will only marginally thrive. By controlling demand (the readers), Google and Facebook have taken over the advertisement money leaving companies like PT to look for clicks to survive.
Everything I have noted above is not new. What is new is what Spotify plans to do: block accounts of ad blockers. Yes, if you think it is fair to visit companies like Premium Times and yet prevent them from showing you adverts, via your ad blockers, it is time to visit Financial Times or WSJ and pay subscriptions. With your subscriptions, no one will show you advert.
Spotify will take a harder stance on ad blockers in its updated terms of service. In an email to users today, the streaming music and podcast platform said its new user guidelines “mak[e] it clear that all types of ad blockers, bots and fraudulent streaming activities are not permitted.” Accounts that use ad blockers in Spotify face immediate suspension or termination under the new terms of service, which go into effect on March 1.
The new guidelines specify that “circumventing or blocking advertisements in the Spotify Service, or creating and distributing tools designed to block advertisements in the Spotify Service” may now result in “immediate termination or suspension of your Spotify account.”
People, though humans create ad blockers, it is important to understand why we have ads to start with: we enjoy free stuffs online. It is certainly not balanced to expect PT to thrive when visiting it, at no subscription, and yet block the capacity for it to show adverts. While I am not happy the adverts are many, I understand PT is doing it because it has to – there is no alternative as ad money continues to go to Facebook and Google at scale.
That is why I celebrate Spotify decision: if you want to listen to free music, you must be open to listen to ads. But where you think you do not want to hear ads, pay for subscription. But if you try to listen free and yet not open to adverts, by using ad blockers, your account will be blocked. That seems fair – it is time we have balance on the web for creators with the legion of ad blockers.
A new business/campaign has emerged: BLOCK THE (ad) BLOCKERS, you cannot have it both ways, something has to give in. Spotify has just set a precedent, expect almost everyone in the web business to follow suit.
Companies pour in tons of dollars, harvesting data and using them for target marketing and the rest, but people don’t want to watch! Maybe a subscription model is about to be resurrected, the free stuff is gradually reaching its saturation point.
We wait to see how stakeholders in the web nation react to this move from Spotify.