The Internet’s impact on international business has been incredible. Nowadays, companies invest large sums of money to grow their business through the internet, and it is normal for a business to be based solely on the web. The Internet has allowed companies to market their products to consumers halfway across the world and has helped connect employees situated around the globe. One of the major features of the internet has been its openness and free content, a business model mainly made possible by advertising revenue. The recent rise in popularity of ad blocking software is threatening to change this model, potentially impacting businesses operating around the world.
Ad blocking software is currently used by an estimated 198 million people worldwide, allowing its users to see content on websites without any advertisements. As the software becomes more widely used, advertisements are becoming less and less valuable, costing the advertising industry an estimated $22 billion this year. This lost revenue will severely hurt websites that count on advertising for their income, possibly leading to a future where internet users are forced to pay to view a site’s content, significantly changing the dynamic of the Internet.
With the prominence of the Internet in people’s everyday lives, websites and advertisers have taken advantage of this new business opportunity to aggressively market their products, as well as gather large amounts of data on consumers. Consumers are beginning to push back, downloading ad blocking and privacy software, and placing the ball back into the website operator's court. Businesses will have to decide between fighting the software with their own “unblockers”, or turning to smaller, less intrusive ads that users will tolerate. Whatever they decide, don’t expect the advertising war to end anytime soon, as more users begin to enjoy an ad-free web and websites grapple with reduced revenues.