How to unblock ad blocking

Much has been made of the rise and rise of ad blocking technology, thanks probably to tech giants such as Apple which are slowly bending to consumers’ growing dislike of invasive and disruptive online ads. But don’t rush to call it an “adblockalypse” just yet.

In its 2016 digital forecast, social@Ogilvy says ad blocker usage has exploded. Even before Apple released iOS 9, which supports such technology, usage had been growing at a rate of more than 40% year-on-year, with few signs of it slowing down.

Driven by a desire for greater privacy control and stopping page load-bloat, some predict there are now 198 million active ad block users around the world, costing publishers nearly $22 billion during 2015.

Hitting the wall with ad blockers? Brands need to give consumers a good user experience to deter them from blocking your ads.

For mobile and tablet users, the story may not be as dramatic. In its annual digital forecast, Deloitte Global predicts a mere 0.3% of all mobile device owners (tablets included) will use an ad blocker by the end of 2016. This is likely to place less than US$100 million (0.1%) of the US$70 billion mobile advertising (smartphones and tablets) market at risk.

But while such low figures may not set off alarm bells, the demographic make-up of people using such technology should.
Increasingly, it’s savvy Millennials who are severely disrupting traditional models of digital marketing, consuming fewer banner ads and threatening existing online advertising models.

How do you get around it? One immediate solution is native advertising, or content marketing, and making sure that the content being created is for specific audience interests.

“That’s not merely a Facebook, Twitter or Apple news feed,” social@ogilvy research noted. “It means earning attention – space and scale wherever audience members chose to consume information.”

Speaking at SOPA’s Media Insiders series last month, Nicola Yates, channel planning director and head of Cathay Pacific global media, said it was a major challenge advertisers should sit up and take notice of.

“I think advertisers are ignoring it, but the next generation will start blocking. Advertising is not relevant for them. Millennials have an attention span of seconds and if you don’t capture that and if you fail to evolve and work it out, ad blockers will rise.”

Henry Heung, director of strategic partner relations at Google, added it was important to understand why ad-blocker technology had grown so fast. He said it was up to the industry as a whole to ensure a good mobile and desktop experience was a key priority.

“If I myself have a bad experience on PC or on mobile, it may push you towards this. It’s our responsibility to make sure we deliver a good user experience. It’s something we collectively need to figure out.”

Finally, the earned mode of advertising also offers other ways to gain rewards.

“If you give something of value to the consumer they are more likely to engage. Advertisers and brands are very inward looking and genuinely believe people care about brands. People don’t. We are selfish, we want to be entertained and we are pushed for time,” Yates said.

“This is where content comes in. You just have to be there at different touch-points and give them something interesting.”