CANNES — Is ad blocking theft? To publishers and advertisers who each depend on ads for income, consumers ripping out those ads can represent a kind of daylight robbery.

But the new accusation of “theft” is harsh, and forgets that companies are also robbing from the very users they hope to reach, says one ad tech executive.

“There is a lot of theft occurring the other way,” says Fox Networks Group’s advanced advertising president Joe Marchese in this panel discussion recorded by Beet.TV. “If I go to a web page and a HD truck ad loads, there’s 3 or 4 cents of data in my wireless time I just paid – I didn’t ask for that.

“So there is theft occurring one way or another. I’m not sure I have a problem with it going the other way.”

If you believe the oft-quoted PageFair data, 198 million around the world use ad blocking software, while22% of smartphone users are even now blocking mobile web browser ads.

Ad blocking is now cited alongside fraud, viewability and more as amongst the existential threats to advertisers and publishers. but Marchese thinks the fear may be overblown.

“I don’t know whether there was the same outrage when DVRs came about,” he says. “When gets DVRed, we get no credit for it, but no-one is calling it a theft.

“All of a sudden, the gravy train of these sub-prime impressions start falling off and everyone starts calling it a ‘theft’.”


This video was produced at the OMD Oasis at Cannes Lions 2016 as part of  the Future of TV Advertising Leadership Forum, a series presented by true[Xand hosted by OMD Worldwide.  Please visit this page for additional segments.