Facebook is making it tougher for ad-blocking software to distinguish between a status update and a sponsored ad on the desktop version of the social network's website. Photo by Alexey Boldin/Shutterstock
MENLO PARK, Calif., Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Starting Tuesday, ad-blocking software probably won't work on Facebook's desktop website.
The software strips ads from websites, but Facebook figured out a way to prevent them from distinguishing between a status update and a sponsored ad on the desktop version of the social networking giant. Before the change, consumers wouldn't be bombarded by ads that clog up their news feeds, consume data and drain their batteries.
On Tuesday, the company rolled out a new version of its ad preferences tool, which allows people to opt out of seeing certain types of ads on the site.
"When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads," said Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of ads and business platform, in an article he wrote for his company.
Facebook is siding with the advertising industry, which says the software is costing them billions of dollars a year in lost revenue.
Interactive Advertising Bureau released a research study last month that shows two-thirds of U.S. consumers using ad blockers could be convinced to uninstall their ad blocking software. The study was conducted by C3Research, which surveyed nearly 1,300 computer users and 201 mobile users in the U.S., including a mix of those who employ ad blockers and those who don't.
"The study's findings confirm that consumers – whether currently blocking ads or not – are most annoyed by advertisements that delay or obscure access to website content," the bureau said in a release. "Long video ads before short videos were the next most irritating to users, followed by ads that traveled with visitors as they scrolled down the page."
This year, 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker, an increase of nearly 35 percent from last year, according to research firm eMarketer. Next year, that figure is expected to grow another 24 percent to 86.6 million people.
"Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show — as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past — we're putting control in people's hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls," Bosworth said.
Ad-blocking software typically does not work in mobile apps, where Facebook users spend the most time and Facebook makes the most advertising revenue.
Facebook reported it generated $3.69 billion in profit on $17.93 billion in revenue in 2015, a vast majority of which came from paid advertising.