Yahoo! Sees the Light with ClarityRay Acquisition

Our leading competitor, ClarityRay, has been bought by Yahoo! Although we’ve never met, we couldn’t be happier for the founders. We can’t help but feel some kinship with the only other guys who’ve been roaming the planet trying to warn the online media industry about the rise of adblock.

That said, we have taken very different approaches to helping publishers deal with adblocking. ClarityRay’s approach has been clandestine, while we’ve operated in the open. Anyone can sign up and get started with our adblock-compatible advertising solution in minutes. Meanwhile, ClarityRay went for a more consultative and closely-guarded approach. Although they started out with anti-adblock tech that stops a website’s advertising being blocked, I understand they changed tactics to an “adblock wall” solution that makes it impossible for people to watch online video when they have adblock installed. Their decision to go head-to-head with adblock users explains the fairly low profile they’ve kept for the last 18 months. There’s no point calling attention to yourself if it’s only going to draw you deeper into a technology war with the open source community (see this thread on the adblock forums for one example).
We initially developed the same technology to guarantee ad delivery, but we decided it was a nuclear option. Rather than go to war with adblockers, we wanted to take a pro-consumer approach. People use adblock in the same spirit they might install a firewall – to protect themselves. Web pages are stuffed with intrusive ad formats out-competing each other to be the one that gets clicked. What should be a healthy and loyal relationship between a publisher and its audience is being mined for the short-term gain of advertisers. It’s no wonder that people are opting out.
As Michael Gundlach (the creator of one of the two leading adblock plugins) put it, “It’s the unsolicited, untargeted, aggressive, in-your-way ads that tend to frustrate people.” His competitor, Adblock Plus, even went so far as to launch the Acceptable Ads Manifesto to promote a better standard of advertising.
When even the makers of the adblock plugins are calling for better advertising, the right approach is to collaborate to clean up advertising, and deliver ads that even adblockers will accept. This is the only sustainable solution, and represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a healthier advertising ecosystem in the wreckage left behind by the adblock.
With the ClarityRay acquisition, Yahoo! has equipped itself with a great team to defend it against growing adblock disruption. It’s the kind of expertise that only a few companies (mainly ClarityRay and PageFair) have invested in.
I am aware of three other major players’ plans to respond to adblocking in the coming months. The online media industry is waking up to this threat, and my fear is that it will respond with aggression, attempting to force feed their target audience the same intrusive ads they expressly wanted to block. At PageFair we plan to take a different road, and succeed by building a new advertising market on a sustainable foundation of respecting the consumer’s hard-earned attention.
If you’re interested in working with us to establish this new ecosystem, please get in touch! You’ll also be able to find us exhibiting at Dmexco (hall 6) on September 9 & 10.

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