It’s estimated that 20% of UK internet users already have ad blocker software enabled on their desktop browsers. This figure is set to rise even higher over the next 12 months. Traditional online advertising needs to evolve and fast. Users are tired of non-relevant ads cluttering up their screens, so it comes as no surprise that ad blocking continues to grow and, with Apple’s recent launch of iOS 9, blocking ads on mobile just easier too.
Fear not, ad blocking will not see the end of digital marketing, but dramatic changes to your digital marketing campaigns need to be made. Imagine the 20% of users who have already installed ad blockers quadrupling in the next few years. It is, however, the end of poor quality ads. But by learning from our mistakes and acting upon them we are able to re-build an industry where ads matter.
Marketers do have a choice however - become more relevant! Do you want to concentrate your efforts on finding new ways to show the same irrelevant ads to customers who have already chosen to opt out? Or would you rather learn from it and start working towards a campaign where customers actually want to be served your ads?
As digital marketers, we need to build future ad products for the end user. Marketing campaigns can no longer be driven by revenue and quantity alone, it needs to be about understanding the needs and wants of the customer. We should have learnt by now that when a customer is not in control, and not aware about what their information is being used for, they will leave in a heartbeat and most likely never return. By giving them control over their data, it helps to build trust and transparency which reduces the threat of intrusiveness.
Content marketing could be the antidote to ad blocking. If you are already doing content marketing, consider throwing more of your budget towards these efforts. Every new blog you publish is another web page for people to find in search engines. It is critical you understand your customers’ requirements, including their insights, information needs and user habits. Taking all of this into consideration will help you develop content which your customers actively seek.
Further down the line it maybe that ad blockers actually start to crawl ads to differentiate between quality ads and spam, but whilst we wait, seize the moment and experiment with optimised, sharable content to see how organic engagement drives new leads.
Try creative alternatives to traditional display ads that can be tracked easily and aren’t blocked, for example, test sponsored social media advertising. Social media platforms are more important now than ever before. It is one of the only places online where user opt in to receive updates from brands. A user opts in and your content will be served to them as and when you publish it.
Affiliate marketing may be another good idea, because it turns loyal customers into brand advocates. Try sending a unique referral link to your most devoted customers and offer a discount in exchange for new business.
YouTube is still able to show video ads, even when ad blocks are enabled. It seems as though they are punishing users for having ad blockers installed. YouTube has disabled the ‘skip’ option for users who have ad blockers installed meaning users are forced to watch an entire ad (even when ads are minutes long). But if ad blockers are not installed the ‘skip’ option is available. A cunning move by Google who are clearly trying to encourage users to disable AdBlock so the skip option reappears.
Whilst ad blocking is not having a huge impact just yet on the majority of campaigns, widespread instalment of ad blockers will change the world of digital marketing. This change could well be for the better, however as it will force brands and marketers to be more creative in generating messages that better integrate with their user experience and directly relate to their target audience.
The evolution of ad blocking will better inform consumers and most likely empower them to make the right choices. The digital landscape continues to evolve, but that doesn’t have to be scary. Let’s start communicating with our customers in the correct way, today
If you have any concerns about ad blocking or need advice on solutions to beat ad blocking please get in touch with the 9xb team.