AdBlock Plus splits consumer opinion after launching platform to ‘sell ads’
AdBlock Plus, the world’s most popular ad blocking tool, was the centre of controvery this week after it announced that it is launching its own ad network called the Acceptable Ads Platform. The move means that AdBlock Plus will decide what “acceptable ads” look like, allowing it to charge publishers to get their ads on its network.
The move has proved controversial among marketers and the ad tech community, as well as consumers who use AdBlock Plus software to block adverts on their devices. On the day of the announcement (13 September), it trended as one of the top discussion topics on Twitter.
Ad industry trade body ISBA expressed concerns about the ad network, claiming that by ‘whitelisting’ certain ads, AdBlock Plus was setting itself up to make money as “another intermediary in the whole messy programmatic food chain”.
Meanwhile Google insisted it will not be working with AdBlock Plus to sell advertising on its new ad network. Instead, the search giant said it will focus on working with the industry on standards that it hopes will fix the “disconnect” between consumers and advertisers that has led to ad blocking in the first place.
Google, Unilever and P&G join coalition aiming to rid the internet of annoying ads
In further ad blocking news this week, brands such as Google, Unilever and Procter & Gamble came together at the Dmexco conference in Cologne to announce the launch of the ‘Coalition for Better Ads’. Backed by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), the organisation will seek to bring together advertisers, ad tech firms and publishers with the aim of setting new global standards on digital advertising that will help to tackle the rise of ad blocking.
This includes pooling data and consumer insights to develop new standards. The coalition will also work with the IAB Tech Lab to develop new formats and will seek to raise awareness of the new standards among consumers and businesses to ensure wide uptake and elicit feedback.
The WFA’s CEO Stephan Loerke said the coalition comes at a time when ad blocking has reached an “inflection point”. He added: “The ad standards will be global and will help transform the current ad experience, which in many cases lets people down, to something that people welcome.”
The Great British Bake Off moves to Channel 4, creating a sticky branding dilemma
Fans of The Great British Bake Off were left aghast this week after it was announced that the programme will move from the BBC to Channel 4 next year. Negotiations over a new broadcasting contract broke down between the BBC and Love Productions, the company that makes the show, resulting in the move to Channel 4 for a reported £25m per year.
The shock news opens up wider questions about each of the brands involved. The BBC is left without one of its flagship programmes, which at its peak has attracted nearly 15 million viewers. At a time when the publicly-funded broadcaster is under pressure from the Government to make savings, the news is further evidence that the purchasing power of the BBC may be on the wane.
Channel 4, meanwhile, faces a backlash from viewers who regard Bake Off as synonymous with the BBC. The channel is better known for edgy, innovative programme formats, so the presence of a family-friendly property like Bake Off may sit uneasily within its stable.
Audience numbers are predicted to fall, but it is also likely that Channel 4 and Love Productions will attract strong advertiser and sponsor interest when the programme moves next year. However, this will also depend on the extent to which Bake Off can retain its original brand magic. This became all-the-more challenging this week when hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc announced they will not host the programme when it moves to Channel 4.
Morrisons’ fortunes improve with first-half profit growth
Morrisons announced half-year profit growth for the first time in four years this week, with profits rising by 13.5% to £143m for the six months to 31 July. Like-for-like sales also rose by 2% in the May to July quarter, representing the retailer’s third straight quarter of growth.
The strong performance follows a recent period of price-cutting aimed at winning back customers lost to discount retailers Lidl and Aldi. Earlier this month, Morrisons cut the prices of 160 everyday products by an average of 12%. In August, it also cut the prices of 1,000 products, including fresh produce staples, by 18%.
CEO David Potts has praised the role of marketing in supporting Morrisons’ turnaround plan. This includes ads from new agency Publicis that have focused on price cuts, family tradition and the role of in-store food-making.
Behaviour versus demographics: Research suggests the term ‘millennial’ is useless
Two new studies suggests that marketers need to move beyond demographic data and “lazy” terms such as ‘millennial’ when creating customer segmentations. The research finds that patterns of behaviour and attitudes are more appropriate tools for targeting consumers than broad generational segments.
Market research group Forrester has sought to move away from demographic segments by instead grouping consumers according to how they respond to new products and technology. It finds that on average, those most likely to lead the demand for product innovation do not necessarily belong to the young demographic often termed ‘millennials’.
Instead the report argues that as customers become more and more empowered through technology, they will also become more demanding in their relationships with brands, regardless of age.
Meanwhile a survey by brand consultancy The Gild finds that on issues such as same-sex marriage, transgender rights and marijuana legalisation, 59% of Generation Z (defined as those born in 2001 or after) respondents describe their attitudes as being between ‘conservative’ and ‘moderate’. By contrast, 83% of millennials (1981-2000) and 85% of Gen X (1965-1980) respondents state that they are ‘quite’ or ‘very liberal’ on such issues.