What you need to know about ad blockers and suggested solutions!
Post by: Nicholas Jerzembeck (Commercial Director, DaVinci IITM UK)
Preliminary projections suggest 2017 spending on digital is expected to soar to $82 billion in the U.S. alone. Further, this growth will trend $10-12 billion year over year. Ad blockers take a heavy toll on publishers and content producers who rely on advertising revenue. Consumers are increasingly frustrated with ads that disrupt their web surfing, interrupt content and lead to slow browsing experience.
Per Mary Meeker’s 2017 trend predictions, this issue will continue to linger globally. Pundits predict ad blocker usage will continue to rise and expect that by year-end, nearly 15 million Internet users will install some type of software. This represents 27% of an estimated 54.4 million UK web users. Among those who chose to utilize ad-blocking software, approximately 90% will install it on desktops and laptops, while roughly 28% will elect to block ads on their smartphones. Interestingly, in India, ad blocking’s on the mobile is at 28 per cent, while on the desktop, it’s only at 1 per cent.
An Adage article notes the smartest way to win a consumer is to engage them, not interrupt them. Yet, unskilled marketers have been interrupting the user’s online experience and hindering their prompt access to a website by serving non-relevant ads. Results being, despite the more credible advertisers wanting to serve engaging content, users have been barraged by saturated ad messaging. The cries from these users have been a resounding to publishers – to create uncluttered site content and free the page from irrelevant ads!
The Fear of Adblock Epidemic
The rise of ad-blocker users has risen to the stratosphere. Moreover, it’s been a painful lesson for the advertisers to re-evaluate the brand messaging, positioning and placement efforts.
According to Business Insider, a multitude of global users – hundreds of millions – utilize ad-block software, which has grown substantially in the past
year. A study in June 2015 indicates that 45 million monthly average users (MAU) were joining the ad-blocking troops. PageFair, a service that measures the impact on ad blocking, estimated the a loss of revenue to $10.7 billion for US. In the U.K. during 2014-2015, the loss rose to $3.6 billion.
PageFair and Adobe suggests it is up a 50 percent spike from the prior year. With ad blockers denying access, digital media publishers have been scrambling for ways to circumvent this revenue-crushing tool.
What ad blockers did, perhaps, was to challenge the adtech sector to focus more on the customer’s user experience. The revolt has been a good reminder for businesses to continuously be on the lookout for high consumer experience. If consumers are overwhelmed with the untargeted ads, they will resort to other means of blocking these messaging – thereby causing tremendous revenue loss to the publishers. The focus should always be to improve and innovate the digital marketing platform, either by using the emerging technology to serve targeted ads or provide native ad integration.
Other venues to consider are to educate the consumers and present them with opt-in methods, options to whitelist the site, and offer options to watching video content – all in exchange for an ad-free experience. Alternatively, publishers should consider creating a pay-for-play model to access their sites. According to eMarketer, an astounding 57% of ad blocking users prolonged their visit by permitting the presence of ads with an opt-in solution. Another encouraging sign was that 38% of users agreed to have sites added to their whitelist. Once the consumer had opt-ed in, advertisers noticed another favorable indicator, consumers maintained engagement with future ads. Research also noticed view-through rates soared to 75% among users who believed it was a reasonable request to view video in order to browse without being subjected to ads.
Publishers are amenable to the notion of ‘paying for using’ model and appear to agree that all parties should take an active role. In UK, IAB has taken proactive steps to educating the consumers. The organization has created awareness among the consumers that advertising and online platforms can coexist. Readers are now more aware & sensitive to the fact that they won’t be able to view content free of charge without expecting to see the ads that sponsor the content. The IAB in UK has devoted extensive time and resources to create value, and the investment is now reaping a reward. Furthermore, recent survey in UK suggests respondents who once downloaded ad blockers have had a change of heart; 21% of them admit they no longer used them. A predominant theme for this behavior modification was due to the ad blocker restricting their access to certain content. This percentage was 16% in February 2016 and one year later, it was 24%.
As recent as this week, Google has formed Coalition for Better Ads. The objective is to provide free content through advertising sponsorships. Regardless of the coalition’s collective effort, focus should be to utilize best practices in creating compelling and engaging content to combat ad block. Rather than having standardized leaderboards, publishers should experiment with native ad placements, ads within content marketing and use emerging AI technology platforms, such as DaVinci IITM, to serve customized ad messaging.