Ad blocking is big business

Once a tool primarily for techies and gamers, ad blocking is becoming a big business. A recent survey by PageFair and Adobe estimates that nearly 200 million people around the world are using some sort of software to block annoying advertisements online, shutting down nearly $22 billion in advertising revenue.

Germany-based AdBlock Plus is one of the most popular. Ben Williams, director of operations at AdBlock Plus, says his product has been clicked on over 400 million times. Williams says AdBlock Plus has been averaging 2.5 million to 3 million downloads per week since 2013.

So how does it work? AdBlock Plus is a browser plug-in you install to shut down annoying ads. It's available on every major browser, and will soon have its own browser to block ads right out of the gate.

Ad blocking has become so popular, even Apple is getting in on the game, announcing that iOS 9 will allow ad-blocking apps. TheStreet Deputy Managing Editor Leon Lazaroff says the move by Apple is all about improving user experience on mobile devices, especially because advertising eats up mobile users' data. Lazaroff says most people don't mind advertising as long as it is smart and entertaining, and isn't a nuisance.

That is where companies like Sourcepoint come in. Based in New York and created by a group of ad industry veterans this summer, with $10 million in funding, Sourcepoint is trying to help content providers and consumers find some common ground when it comes to ads.

Sourcepoint COO Briane Kane describes his company as a platform that enables media companies and publishers to actually create dialog with consumers about their advertising preferences. Some of the options Sourcepoint has come up with: letting consumers watch a single ad in exchange for 24 hours of content, showing them ads from a specific category of interest to them, or offering a subscription services that give access to content from several sites.

Kane says that someday they'd like people to think of Sourcepoint as the Spotify of digital content. The goal is to charge users a monthly fee for digital content across a spectrum of providers, similar to the way Spotify gives access to music from a wide spectrum of labels.

In the meantime, Sourcepoint is working with a range of major publishers to improve their advertising strategy, while AdBlock Plus is helping Internet users block the ads that annoy them online. Different companies, with similar goals of making advertising work for everyone.