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November 23, 2015
A Modest Proposal: No Ads? No Product
 
Sooner or later, a line must be drawn in the sand when it comes to consumers, ad blockers, and brands. What this faceoff will look like remains to be seen. If brands clean up their acts, consumers will see no need to use ad blockers, and those companies will be phased out of the marketplace through economic means. If brands carry on as they are now, consumers will make a case for using ad blockers, creating a stronger foothold for these symbiotic entities to continue to thrive.

But what if brands counter? What if they use another creative parry to the ad-blocker scenario? What if they deny their services if ad blockers are used?

Yahoo is experimenting with this in select markets with its Yahoo Mail. If a Yahoo Mail user tries to access their inbox while an ad blocker is active, a screen pops up saying that the user cannot access mail without disabling the ad blocker. An interesting and direct approach to the ad-blocker question.

We find it interesting because it forces the consumer to confront the reality that Yahoo Mail is not owned by the consumer. No, they have no automatic right to use Yahoo Mail for free, therefore in order to use the mail service, they must see the ads that support Yahoo enough to provide the mail service free to the public.

Of course, consumer advocates and the public won't like it. The "free" problem with the Internet is accepted as reality, and Yahoo, in this simple tactic, shows the consumer unapologetically that they are mistaken. 

No ads? Okay, then; no product.

How bold! But will Yahoo kowtow to the backlash? Possibly. No doubt negative press will ensue. People will take this defensive approach and twist it into catchy headlines like "How Yahoo Boosted Gmail Users" and nonsense like that, rather than focusing on the actual topic: How can brands show consumers the real cost of the Internet without forcing the consumer to pay, yet keep the revenue received from advertisers?

Sure, ad blockers threw the first punch. But don't count AdLand out yet. It's gonna be a fight.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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