Ad Blocking Might Be Your Biggest Marketing Challenge This Year: Here’s What To Do About It
Ad blocking software has spread at phenomenal rates in the past two years.
It’s great for avoiding spam overload – definitely a problem on today’s web – but for us marketers, it’s a challenge we can’t afford to ignore.
Usage is expected to jump by 34.4% by the end of 2016. That’s 69.8 million people, 26.3% of total internet users in the US. If this rate continues, it will cost the industry as much as $12 billion in digital advertising revenue by 2020.
The thing is, these programs are popular for a reason. The ad blocking explosion points to a deeper issue in the relationship between viewers and advertisers.
To be blunt, advertisers have forgotten about the user’s experience. We need to win back our audience with ads that are more sensitive to their needs, more interesting, better formatted and targeted right.
Ad blocking isn’t just going away. It’s a force that digital advertisers will have to accept and adapt to if we want to move forward.
Where the problem came from
At the last Leadership Meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, President and CEO Randall Rothenberg delivered a fiery speech denouncing ad blockers as part of a war against diversity and freedom of expression.
But it seems more like advertisers are suffering from a problem of our own creation. “IAB has failed to set reasonable advertising standards, which is precisely why ad blockers have grown in popularity,” said John Simpson, privacy project director of the advocate organization Consumer Watchdog.
Do we take our audience for granted? Or has the advertising industry’s obsession with data caused us to overlook our actual customers?
Whatever the reason, many online advertisers today show blatant disregard for the user’s experience.
People don’t download ad blockers just for kicks. Ads that are poorly targeted or too large for cellphone screens annoy and alienate viewers. Intrusive pop-up’s, audio and over-specific ads also top the list of widespread advertising missteps.
Are targeted ads creeping out your viewers?
And then there’s the creepiness factor. There’s a fine line between relevancy and feeling spied on, and 2016 just might be the year when advertisers crossed that line with overly targeted ads.
Giants like Facebook and Google now have access to more personal data than ever. This raises privacy concerns, and stalker-like retargeting ad campaigns aren’t helping.
It’s tempting to track as much data as possible and make your ads specific to every last detail of your client profile, but this can backfire big time. If an ad for your product is following someone around the web, it’s not encouraging them to buy – it’s putting them off your brand.
How to make ads that encourage buying, not blocking
We don’t have to see the rise of ad blocking as a crisis. It can be the start of a conversation on how to improve digital marketing for everyone involved.
Simpson thinks that advertisers can restore goodwill by simply honoring a Do-Not-Track standard. It seems clear though that to really turn the situation around, we have to up our game.
“The best way for the industry to tackle this problem is to deliver compelling ad experiences that users won’t want to block,” said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna.
So how can you get on your audience’s good side?
- Make your ads interesting and visually appealing
- Provide discounts, special offers or other value
- Format all your ads to be mobile-friendly
- Be cautious with retargeting campaigns: don’t bombard people with ads, and change them up so the same people won’t always see the same ads
- Track purchases so you won’t show ads to people who have already bought your product
Basically, think quality over quantity. If your ads offer value to your viewers without detracting from their internet use, they’ll be happy to see them.