The advertising industry has suffered from something of an existential crisis of late, with the question of how, and by whom, ads are viewed coming under greater scrutiny.
Sir Martin Sorrell used his keynote at the advertising technology conference Dmexco to call out the lack of visibility over the viewability of online ads and the CEO of PageFair, a company at the heart of the ad blocking debate, called for consumer interests to be the primary focus of advertising. In addition the creator of a prominent ad blocker app removed it from the market due to fears it was too damaging to the industry.
So, how real is the threat of an ‘adblockalypse’ and how should we respond?
First, brands, agencies and publishers need to accept that ad blocking, which is increasing by 70% year-on-year, is an unavoidable reality of the advertising universe. Instead of seeing it as a barrier to be circumvented we need to understand why consumers are using ad blocking services and see it as an opportunity to excel.
Research by GlobalWebIndex shows that people using ad blockers are likely spend a lot of time on the internet, and therefore be more inconvenienced by intrusive or poorly targeted ads and have greater awareness of how they can put a stop to it.
However, research also shows that they are more likely than others to be happy to pay for digital content if it’s something they’re interested in or, in other words, if it’s relevant to them.
There is no question that shoppers have the right and the ability to opt out of receiving unwanted content – whether it’s advertising or not – but accuracy is key. The industry needs to ensure consumers are being served well-targeted ads from reputable brands that are relevant and enhance their online experience.
Ad blocking should be seen as a disciplinary measure for marketers. More than ever, it’s about attention to detail and precision targeting at scale; a poorly targeted campaign could trigger a decision to use ad blocking and lead to negative brand perception. Overlaying observed behavioural insights and identifying where a consumer is on the purchase journey means marketers can find their target audience and communicate in a way that will resonate with them.
Often this will mean collaboration between brands and publishers, as marketers truly grasp the value of primary data and widespread adoption of programmatic to enable more intelligent ad buying and campaign planning.
Ad blocking services are just one instance of technology evolving to meet a consumer need. Marketers should now use the huge advances in the targeting and creative tools at their disposal to inspire, rather than alienate, their audience.