It’s been on our radar for part of the past year, but it’s sure to be an even bigger issue in 2016: ad blocking. From an ad agency point of view, it’s worrisome, but it doesn’t signal the end of advertising.
We’ve dealt with ad blocking since the Internet reached most households and browsers began offering ad-blocking software to stop those relentless popups. Even before that, though, people used DVRs to fast-forward through TV commercials and satellite radio gave them ad-free music listening. It seems that no matter what venue we use to try to reach an audience, some consumers will find a way to bypass our advertising efforts. And that’s fine — if they’re the type to tune it out, we don’t want to waste our dollars on their ears anyways.
What’s The Latest Issue?
Of course, mobile usage is huge now. Unlike TV or radio, people use their phones off and on, all day long. So, mobile advertising has become a big deal for marketers trying to reach their customers. The rise of mobile ad-blocking apps can really throw a wrench into well-laid advertising plans and it completely upsets the revenue streams for content providers that rely on ad dollars for a large percentage of their revenue. In fact, Business Insider reports that globally, almost 200 million monthly active users have turned to ad-blocking software. That’s a huge number of web, social network, and search engine users who aren’t being served ads of any kind.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) doesn’t see the issue as a problem with actual ad blocking software. Instead, it puts the blame squarely on the digital advertisers who “lost track of the user experience” when delivering ad content. The organization is calling upon ad agencies to use its L.E.A.N. Ads program, which stands for light, encrypted, ad-choice supported, non-invasive ads. IAB feels that by addressing issues with over targeting by instead doing so in moderation but with a more focused campaign, advertisers can again win the attention of consumers.
However, some publishers, like GQ, are finding ways to fight back against the actual software by blocking content from the ad-blocking users. When someone using the ad-blocking software attempts to read a GQ mobile ad, they are alerted with a message asking them to turn off the ad blocker or pay to read the content. The publication reminds its readers that their money (or viewing of ads) helps support the award-winning journalists who create the articles it provides. From a publishing standpoint, this makes total sense.
A lot is still up in the air, though, as to what this will mean for advertisers who usually place ads on sites like GQ.
What The Future May Hold
This year, marketers will certainly ask how we can combat ad blocking. It seems that the only way we (as advertisers) can win the battle is to figure out why people are blocking the ads in the first place. It seems to mostly boil down to poor user experience — consumers are inundated with ads that are lacking in creativity and off-the-mark when it comes to conveying the brand message that resonates.
The best ways we can get the word out to customers is to find new approaches to tell the stories of our brands, and to connect our brands better with users who are more likely to be interested.
The year will bring plenty of opportunities for reaching consumers where they are most likely to be receptive to your brand. The key for us will be to consider all marketing options — including some that are not typical and may be more edgy — and then provide the consumer with a relevant message they won’t want to ignore.