The use of ad blockers grew steadily from 2009 onwards, but in 2013 a rise in acceleration became apparent. The latest year-on-year figures show that ‘the number of consumers using ad blocking software worldwide has increased 41% to 198 million monthly active users’. This is said to represent 6% of the global web population.
With 2015 ad blocking losses expected to be around $22 billion, publishers and brands have been reacting to the crisis in a variety of ways. Reactions to ad blocking have included a panicked statement from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, declaring that: ‘Ad blocking is robbery, plain and simple — an extortionist scheme that exploits consumer disaffection and risks distorting the economics of democratic capitalism’.
More measured responses included O2, who said: ‘Ad blocking is happening, regardless of our involvement, so we are exploring the space to try and understand the effect on our customers and their mobile experience’. Condé Nast Entertainment suggested that the industry has fallen behind on the creative side of advertising, focusing too much on the technology. As a result, we may be in a world where it’s more beneficial for consumers to feel like they need to block ads.
The increase in ad blockers does not have to be a negative scenario for advertisers. On the contrary, by following these five tips, brand messaging will reach the right consumers at the right time, without getting blocked:
Create inspiring, high quality ads
A number of factors are considered to have contributed to this growth in ad blocker usage. However, the majority of experts suggest what is to blame is the rise of intrusive, poorly targeted and visually unappealing ads. Essentially, irrelevance is the turnoff with consumers. Marketers can avoid this by creating high quality ads that consumers will find inspiring. Brands should consider what their consumers need and present their offerings in a simple yet striking way. Ads need to be attractive and engaging, but marketers really need to harness creativity to make their message relevant to their target audience.
Use precise, extraordinary targeting
In addition to clear and visually appealing brand messaging, advertisers need to ensure their ads are reaching their desired audience, at the right time. If the target audience is not reached, the ad is likely to fall into the irrelevant category for those that do see it. Marketers should therefore engage in precise extraordinary targeting to make sure their message is reaching the right consumers.
Centralise data with DMPs
It can be difficult to implement precise targeting without a centralised repository of relevant data. This is where DMPs, or data management platforms, come into their own. DMPs can store and analyse data, such as cookie IDs, so that marketers can generate audience segments. DMPs help advertisers understand their customers and optimise the targeting process.
Invest in SEO
Organic listings aren’t affected by ad blockers, so marketers should ensure their web content is continually monitored and revised to improve natural rankings. While desktop sites are still essential, mobile sites are becoming increasingly important, so this is a key area for SEO. By investing in SEO, marketers can avoid the ad blockers and engage consumers interested in their offerings.
Grow social presence
Social is another area that is not impacted by ad blockers, and investment in social campaigns is expected to see a dramatic rise in the coming year. Predicted spend on social media advertising is $23.68 billion, which is a 33.5% increase on the 2015 spend. Social is a savvy investment, as advertisers can learn about their customers and target more effectively, even with limited budgets. It can also be used to drive web traffic, boosting organic search rankings.