Can marketers win the ad blocking battle?

The ad-block war in Asia Pacific has gained much traction amongst consumers and hence, attention from marketers.

A report by PageFair stated that as of March 2016 there are 116 million users of mobile adblocking browsers in China, 89 million in India, and 28 million in Indonesia. Moreover, there are 50% more mobile ad blockers than desktop ad blockers.

The report also states that as ad blocking browsers improve page speed and reduce bandwidth consumption on mobile, it is most likely to be most rapidly adopted in markets where mobile data infrastructure is less developed and is relative to income.

To tackle this rising phenomenon, in a recent panel discussion at Digital Marketing Indonesia, held in Jakarta, Prashant Gokarn, chief strategy and digital services officer at Indosat, explained that there is an urgent need to strike the right balance between ad blockers and content.

He explained that as one of the telecommunications services and network providers in Indonesia, the company has mixed emotions towards the use of ad blockers.

Expanding further on the need for balance, he said, “If there are too many ads by brands on a website, the risk of categorising it as spam is high. However, if there aren’t enough ads, it indicates that the investment in curating the right kind of content for audience is low.”

Gokarn also explained that Indonesia is a price conscious market. The market therefore requires incentive to attract attention. “Incentives such as free data while watching an ad will drive customers to share the information,” he said. Possibly, this would also be a way to win the ad blocking battle.

Gregory Fournier, executive director, strategic partnerships APAC, Unruly said, “establishing a balanced space where advertisements are showcased, and thrust forward in a respectful and polite format without looking too pushy” is a must in an era where the consumer voice is very strong.

He said, "Creating engaging content, and delivering it in a polite format to a targeted audience is the only sustainable way to go around ad blocking software."

He added that today the fight for consumer attention has further intensified because of the numerous free review platforms out there. These platforms mean that publications have to fight harder to get noticed, be credible and hold their stature.

Fournier added that everything now revolves around value exchange and not forcing users to watch content. However, with the intent of ad-blocking slowly gaining traction to become a reality, marketers in the region need come up with other ways to tackle it.

David Rhoades, VP marketing, Adparlor said, “While it is not all that easy to block ad, evidently a growing number of people seem to be successful in doing just that. " This is why ad blocking is an issue. To counter this, Rhoades said there is a need to build trust in the community. He added trust will ultimately drive advertisements in traditional and online platforms. Rhoades added monetisation and delivering the right kind of content is mandatory.

Analyse what the customers are looking out for and on which platform and plan accordingly.