"AOL may have been onto something." - Mark Zuckerberg, probably
In its recent article "Why Facebook is Really Blocking Ad Blockers," The New Yorker lays out a case for a larger strategy for the program, beyond the obvious.
It's true that ad revenue is responsible for record breaking bottom lines at the social media giant, and that the company has explicitly called out ad blockers as a threat to future revenues. Again, the New Yorker:
Facebook has a strong incentive to end ad blocking; it makes money on ad revenue. In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company noted that ad blockers posed a significant threat to its business. Neutering the blockers would mean protecting its top line.
So, it goes without saying that blocking the ad blockers on its web properties naturally makes sense, right? The answer is yes, but indirectly so.
Facebook has become basically a utility in the lives of the majority of American internet users, and the best way to maintain this hold is to drive them into a more controlled environment, aka Facebook's apps (which give Facebook's advertisers greater control). For those that eschew the app environment, they will still be served up ads as though the Ad Blocking industry failed to exist.
More from The New Yorker:
Facebook’s ability to protect its revenue stream on the desktop version of its site only strengthens its position as a closed platform, a place where the user is powerless against its technical domination and will be gently served ads, whether they like it or not. This makes it an extremely safe bet as a place for brands to publish content. Instant Articles, while not yet a success, got a deluge of publishers on board because the model seemed straightforward, reliable, and immune to ad-block tampering.
So, Facebook basically believes that a "closed" web experiences benefit not only users but advertisers alike. What's not to love?
For those readers like me who remember the days of CD-ROMs and dial-up, there was a company that tried to contain the internet, make beaucoup bucks, and is now the Case (excuse the pun) study for failed corporate media mergers.