Startups in the post-Adblock world

Those annoying things that stand between you and that video you want to watch.

Ad Block.
It’s like bug-spray, but for adverts; a browser plugin that lets you use the Internet without someone selling you something.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Ad Block because of the potential it has to upend one ‘main’ stream of online revenue: Advertising.

Simply put, people can afford to make content free and available online, because advertisers pay hard cash to stick their messages in and around that content.  With ad blockers removing all adverts, brands have no incentive left to advertise online.
It’s a very simplistic argument; after all, brands always find another way to reach out to their customers.

But what if you’re not a brand? Or rather, what if you have not yet become a brand?

What if you’re a start up?


Start-ups: those young, under-funded, little engines of innovation that we now summarily celebrate; two people in a garage, dreaming up new services and applications to disrupt the world.
Start-ups have notoriously small budgets.

Start-ups need people to know about them so that they can sell their product or service so that they can raise the revenue they need to realize their ‘vision’. Since they have almost no money in any case, they need to be able to get word out as cheaply as possible to those people who are mostly like to buy from them. 

Without this, they have little chance of success.
Offline advertising really isn’t an option.

The cost of a basic newspaper, radio, TV or hoarding advertisement is prohibitively expensive. And that’s just the cost of putting the advert up. The costing of creating an advert for those formats has its own set of fees and bills. For anyone who is just starting up, these costs are unimaginable.


The only place left for them is online.

And increasing, online isn’t an option either.

Since a start-up has usually only just got off the ground, entrepreneurs would probably not want to waste their time on the endless storm of Twitter. Meanwhile, Facebook would just suppress their page – so much so that even those people who like their page wouldn’t receive their updates.  Their organic tracking would be negligible since consumers just wouldn’t know what to Google.
That leaves them with one choice: paid advertising.

In the post-AdBlock world that choice would disappear too. Sure the start-up could sign up for Google Display Network or Ad Choices or even mobile advertising networks, but those adverts would never reach their intended audience.

The result would be one good but dead idea.


Now, I do realize that I sound very doomsday-ey. After all, not every start-up has a good idea at its core and not every start-up needs to generate revenue from the first day. Yet in the minefield of ideas, there are few start-ups that can change things around us (look at all the ‘transportation’ and services aggregator apps). For these start-ups to survive they have to make contact with the consumer. They have to be able to market and sell their idea.
As consumers, we have a choice to make.
If we hate advertisements, why can’t we agree to pay for the content that we want? After all, the adverts are only there because we find reaching out for our wallets more painful that giving content and idea producers their due.

I am not saying that we, the consumers, must subsidize start-ups with our attention and ad-clicks. Rather, that start-ups and their ideas are increasingly making our lives easier. Remember, everything that you rely on online was a start-up not so long ago. It’s not just that start-ups need us. We need them to create new services and products for us. And if their new offerings don’t reach us, they have no incentive left to innovate.

In a post ad-block world, it’s time for us decide on what incentives we can offer those who create to continue doing what they love, so we can continue making our lives that much easier.



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