This article also appeared as a guest post on marketing.com.au.
Do you remember the days of recording TV programs onto videos and then skipping back through the ads when you watched it? Well the same concept is available on the internet through software known as ad blockers. These are installed on 615 million devices which is roughly 11% of internet users.
Essentially ad blockers allow you to view websites, videos, and other online content ad free with white space showing where the ads once were. Ad blockers are very easy to install with consumers simply adding a free plugin to their browser. With increasing concerns about privacy & tracking plus a range of ads formats that consumers see as annoying the use of ad blockers is steadily growing with 30% growth last year.
As useful as these tools are for consumers, the rise of ad blockers are affecting two big online industries – ad networks and content producers – both of which are not taking the threat lightly.
Ad networks such as Google & Facebook have been affected with lower ad impressions and thus less revenue generated. They are taking steps to combat this – firstly by working with the ad blockers themselves to develop a “non intrusive” style of ad that they’ll allow. And secondly by working to make their ads tamper proof and unblockable which circumvents the ad blocking software. This is something Facebook has recently done successfully which has increased their revenue significantly at the expense however of annoying those customers.
Content producers are also combating ad blockers and the corresponding fall in ad revenue in a number of ways. One of the major ones is detecting if you’re using an ad blocker and then stopping you from viewing the content altogether until you disable it. However this has led to around 75% of these blocked consumers leaving the site altogether so they’re also working to diversify their revenue by selling subscriptions & products and by allowing more sponsored content onto the site.
Regardless of the steps these businesses are taking – as long as consumers actively dislike the ads they see they will find a way to stop seeing them – even if it is abandoning a website altogether. So what can marketers do to ensure they future proof what they’re doing and get through to this segment of the market that want to block their ads?
Along with making sure your ads are of value to the consumer and are unobtrusive, one of the key ways marketers can combat ad blocking is to diversify the type of ads you’re running and to ensure that this includes channels that can’t easily be blocked. Two good examples of this are influencer marketing & sponsored content which allow you to get your brand in front of your target market organically and its within content that they want to watch and read more of.
Marketers should also look to build followers and databases on platforms that are hard to block such as on social networks with organic reach, on email & SMS platforms and even on push notification platforms. These people have opted-in and are actively choosing to receive content from your brand meaning it’s unobtrusive and a good alternative to work on.
Another channel marketers should work on is SEO with organic search results not blocked. Paid search ads on the other hand are hidden meaning that organic click through rates from those users should be high and traffic should grow in line with the use of ad blockers. This makes it a high priority channel to focus on, at least until the search networks take action and make paid ads unblockable.
Ad blocking is rapidly changing and there’s startups on both sides fighting to get ads through or stopping them altogether. There are also other big players such as Apple moving to protect their customers from advertising – their latest iOS release automatically blocks remarketing cookies after just one day. Even Google Chrome has taken steps to filter out some ad formats – who knows whats next?
Regardless of the changes that are made in the ad blocking industry – diversifying the channels you use is best practice digital marketing and will ensure no matter what changes come – you’ll be prepared.