16 Jan 2017


Consumer PR

Spreckley supports Adblock Plus in influencing the future of online advertising

The client

Lose weight fast? Would you like to meet attractive singles in your area? How about a free bet when you sign up here? While tempting these offers might seem they are merely just examples of the day-to-day annoyances we face as part of our online experience. Fortunately, there is a remedy for this in the form of Adblock Plus.

Adblock Plus is an open source project that essentially blocks annoying and intrusive advertising, whether it be in the form of banner ads, text ads, sponsored links, sponsored stories and video pre-roll ads, all from invading your webpage. Currently, it has just under 400 million downloads worldwide and is roughly growing at a rate of two million downloads a week.


Unlike other adblockers, Adblock Plus recognises the importance of advertising to a free internet and works closely with advertisers in order to provide them with a better understanding of what users want when it comes to their online experience, encouraging more acceptable advertising. This was the message which Spreckley took to the media.

The goals

By its very nature, adblocking is seen as a controversial subject – while the benefits are obvious to the user, communicating this to the press, the direct market adblocking is seen to take money away from, is a challenge in itself and therefore Spreckley encouraged Adblock Plus to take an open and transparent approach when speaking to the press.

Over the course of a sustained two-year campaign, Spreckley has brought the issue of adblocking to the mainstream media with successful interviews in The Economist, Financial Times, BBC News and The Guardian, as well as trade titles such as Computer Active and The Register to name a few.

While these briefings have been vital in reaffirming the message of balance and openness, Adblock Plus was looking to strike a balance between users and the advertising community.

In light of this, a town hall debate was staged in partnership with Kingston University, discussing the future of the advertising industry and what can be done to create a more even playing field for advertisers and users. The event followed a Question Time style-format whereby a panel of representatives from Dennis Publishing, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), an information security consultant and Ben Williams, Head of Operations at Adblock Plus, debated the subject, as well as taking questions from the audience, which consisted of over 100 students and faculty members.

As you can imagine this created lots of insightful discussion and strongly contested views on the future of online advertising – but after all the dust settled, a common ground was seen with all participants agreeing that change was needed across the industry.

To ensure that the core messages from the debate were effectively communicated, Spreckley secured attendances from the FT, The Guardian, The Drum, as well as a number of other consumer tech trade titles to participate in the audience discussion. Coverage was secured off-the-back of this, with further results generated from other media outlets including The Independent, TechRadar, PC Advisor, Gizmodo and ComputerActive, resulting from an audio recording being taken from the debate, and was later hosted on the Adblock Plus website.

By participating in the debate, Adblock Plus was not only able to effectively communicate its messaging to a varied, cross-section of trade and national media, but it also allowed it to engage directly with the core stakeholders involved within the adblocking debate. As a result of this Adblock Plus have been able to establish strong relationships with those involved leading to potential business development opportunities – something which was previously out of their reach before participating in the debate and has subsequently led to a number of new opportunities with other publishing houses and advertisers.

The achievements

Press coverage

Over 50 pieces of coverage generated from town hall debate and follow up interviews across national and trade press.

Media briefings

Media briefings completed with FT, the guardian, The Drum, BBC News, New Statesmen, The Economist, The Register and ComputerActive.

The town hall success

New business development opportunities with panel participants as well as other publishing houses resulting from success of town hall debate.