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Ad blockers and the marketing industry

Published: 25/11/2015 | AUTHOR: Emily Bray

Ad Blockers

Here at JJ, we love advertising. As an Oxford marketing communications agency you wouldn’t really expect anything else, but it would appear that not everyone shares this love. Ad blockers are increasingly being used by the wider public and it’s starting to beg the question – are people sick of online ads?

Inspired by this month’s edition of the Drum, we’ve had a little think about Ad Blockers and what they mean for the marketing industry.

The facts:

• Online video and banner ads have a lower trust rating than traditional ads, but their credibility has held up over the past two years while trust in TV ads has fallen.
• Ad blocking has grown 42% globally in the last 12 months.
• 82% jump to a figure of 12 million active ad blocking users in the UK alone.
• AdBlock Plus has been downloaded 400 million times.
• 65% of UK publishers now see ad blocking as the most significant threat to their business.

This last statistic is so prominent at the moment that, business and finance news forum, City AM became the first UK publisher to block ad blocker users from viewing its content. Close behind them, newspaper group Trinity Mirror is following suit by looking into software that prevents ad blocker users viewing content on their iPhones and iPads.

These are just two examples of publishers taking a stance on ad blockers but they are far from alone. Many others are working on their own solutions and even search engine Yahoo! is trialing the blocking of ad blockers. So what is the solution? Is fighting fire with fire the correct way to approach the issue, or is forcing readers to view ads going to lose publishers readers and advertisers revenue?

Is this the solution?

In speaking to the Drum, Dominic Carter, MD at News UK, correctly said that simply blocking ad blockers isn’t the solution but, instead, the ‘onus is on the industry to improve quality of consumer experience – which includes the quality of ads.’

After all, if the ads consumers see are relevant and appealing, there would be no need for ad blockers. Recently, mobile network operator EE weighed in on the debate with a view to start a review into the use ad blockers for mobile. They stated, in this article, that “For EE, this is not about ad blocking, but about starting an important debate around customer choice, controls and the level of ads customers receive.”

Moving forward

For advertisers, it is not just about making sure your ads are of a high standard – it is also important they are relevant to the viewer.

One key way of ensuring that ads are more relevant and seen by the right audience at the right time is through Programmatic Advertising.

Definition: Programmatic advertising helps automate the decision-making process of media buying by targeting specific audiences and demographics. Programmatic ads are placed using artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time bidding (RTB) for online display, social media advertising, mobile and video campaigns, and is expanding to traditional TV advertising marketplaces. Source: marketingland.com

This is an area that is evolving at an increasing rate. From the early days, which is just a few years ago, to today’s world of programmatic TV ad trading where advertisers are able to target specific households and not just audiences of specific TV, programmatic is delivering a level of ROI that just wasn’t achievable before.

Take Sky AdSmart for example, marketing itself as a way of advertising that ‘levels the playing field, so businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the advertising impact of TV’, it is making it possible to target relevant audiences without these audiences needing to be watching the same programme.

Programmatic advertising is all about targeting the right person at the right place at the right time to ensure the ad is as relevant as possible and has the greatest chance of a conversion. While it was once acceptable to target a specific audience, programmatic through the use of real-time advertising and the latest technology, allows advertisers to tap into the human element of the consumer. This helps target based on a consumer’s thoughts and feelings at a specific time, rather than relying on their general interests or common browsing habits.

In a world where adverts are tailored to a person individually, there may never be a need for an ad blocker again, with both advertisers and consumers benefitting.

For publishers, rather than simply restricting all ad blocking users, perhaps the answer lies in working with ad blockers to distinguish between the good/useful/relevant content and the spam. Or in fact working with advertisers to rethink the placement of online ads. After all, no matter how good the video or ad content is, having it disrupt an article might be enough to make it irrelevant to the user so perhaps the answer lies in placement, relevant timing and, most importantly, making it relevant for the consumer.

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