Online advertising in Poland: Where the industry took the wrong turn

It’s been a few years since I moved back to Poland. Understandably, my online browsing habits reflect my different geographical location.

Having that said, Polish internet appears to be almost a stereotypical expression of a post-transitioning society. Everything is for sale, the sky is the limit.

There are text ads in articles, sponsored content sections, banner ads, background (wallpaper) ads, auto-playing videos – everything is screaming for attention. Sprinkle some magical Google AdWords re-marketing on that and the user is sure to buy something. After all, he/she has to – it’s all personalized to his/her interests!

It all should work – like communism, on paper.

In the meantime, by every poll I’m aware of, Poles are the leading users of ad blockers.¹

The Polish advertising industry is not sitting still. The recipe is simple: do what we did last year, but force the user to see more ads. Here’s the works:

  • Ban the user outright. Got ad-block? No website access for you.
  • Install anti-ad-blocker measures. For example, use a script to circumvent the ad-block.
  • Embed ads into the content. Long video advertisements before a video plays are a great example.
  • Directly or indirectly Pay AdBlock Plus and other ad-block providers for a whitelist access.²
  • Serve more ads – some will get through eventually.

And all these solutions have a fundamental flaw – rather than banking on providing interesting content with a well-crafted advertising message, they’re counting on forcing the user to accept an obvious ad. In sum, the ads are the problem – both in quality and quantity.

It’s a no-brainer that content providers need money. They are businesses, after all. Advertising, among other ways (such as bitcoin mining), is a means of paying for the service, and that’s expected.

However, it appears that Polish advertising industry has caught itself in a downward spiral, by choosing to force the user to experience the ads, rather than having the user choose to see them. 

Let’s take this rather informational video – “A century of achievements that have changed the world”:

This video is nothing more than a thirteen minute long advertisement of International Business Machines (IBM). Yet it is an informative, well-crafted message, encompassing historical information, great visualization, music, an event timeline and, most of all – an advertisement.

Well-produced, informative and quality ads often can be perceived informational videos, regardless of the commercial undertone. In fact, informative and humorous advertisements are far less likely to be considered intrusive by their viewers.³

Want the user to disable his/her AdBlock voluntarily? This is one, among numerous solutions.


In this post I mentioned ad-blocking software.

While there are countless ad-blockers out there, I’d highly recommend taking a look into uBlock Origin plugin for Firefox and Chromium-based browsers. Why not the others? More on that in upcoming posts.

  3. Goodrich,Kendall. Schiller,Shu Z. Galletta, Dennis. “Consumer Reactions to Intrusiveness Of Online-Video Advertisements Do Length, Informativeness, and Humor Help (or Hinder) Marketing Outcomes?” Journal of Advertising Research, vol 55, no 1, pp. 37-50.

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