Advertisers Respond to Ad Blockers

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Whether your practice uses digital advertising or not, the growth of ad blocking is big news in the digital world. When Apple signaled last year that it would support ad blockers in iOS 9, things really got interesting. More and more consumers are using ad-blocking apps on both their mobile devices and desktops and it’s costing billions of dollars in lost ad revenue for publishers and other groups.

Don Draper would be irate!

In a response to the rise of ad blockers, the digital advertising industry and the publishers that rely on it have begun a conversation on how to address the bad ad experiences. After all, these bad experiences have led to the dramatic rise of ad blockers.

Why more ad blockers?

In the U.S., eMarketer reports that 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker this year, an increase of 34.4 percent from 2015. Another reports finds that globally 22 percent of smartphone users around the world use ad blockers. Estimates put the amount of lost ad revenue at $22 billion annually!

Why are users opting for ad blocking, other than the fact that they may or may not like seeing ads? Key reasons behind the rise of ad blockers are the quantity and quality of ads and, in mobile, the extra load time. Beyond being tedious, longer page load times also eat up battery life and expand data usage. The ad blocker Crystal, addresses this directly, claiming in the app description that it can load mobile pages an average of “four times faster than with ads,” reducing bandwidth required by half.

Users are also becoming more interested in what information they share with advertisers, although most of this sharing is unbeknownst to the consumer. To accomplish this, most blockers block both ads and user tracking data. Obviously this can be problematic for advertisers because the cost of their digital advertising is directed tied to tracking data.

Will better ads equal less resistance?

To combat the rise of ad blockers, an industry-wide initiative was unveiled in September of this year. Called the Coalition for Better Ads, it’s an effort of 16 companies and trade groups to “fix the digital advertising experience.” Founding members of the Coalition include Google, Facebook, GroupM, Proctor & Gamble, Unilver, and the Washington Post. Also various advertising associations such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) and the World Federation of Advertisers are on the Coalition.

In an Advertising Age interview last year, Google’s SVP of Ads and Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy commented on the rise of ad blocking, “This is something we need to address together as an industry. We need standards of good ads that you and I would find acceptable as consumers. Ad blocking presents creative challenges and certainly a business challenge.”

Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4As recently commented, “Our members recognize that there is room for improvement with the current customer online advertising experience, as indicated in part by the emergence of ad blocking,” she said. “Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue to better engage with the consumers we’re trying to reach.”

When the Coalition was announced in September, its initial tasks were detailed:

  • Create consumer-based, data-driven standards that companies in the online advertising industry can use to improve the consumer ad experience.
  • Develop and deploy technology in conjunction with the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab to develop and deploy technology to implement the above standards.
  • Encourage awareness of the standards among consumers and businesses in order to ensure wide uptake and feedback.

Whether we help you develop and place digital ads or not, the rise of ad blockers affects our MyAdvice client practices both on the business side and on the personal side. As with all changes in digital marketing, we’ll keep you posted on changes as they unfold.

If you have any questions about ad blocking and how it may be affecting your practice, contact your MyAdvice representative and ask away.

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