To resolve the issue, the industry need to understand why users are implementing ad blockers. The main reasons usually cited by the industry are normally data consumption, load times and battery use. These are all valid, but when looked at closely, they don’t seem to be the main cause of ad blocking. Research by Global Web Index found that only one third of users state page load times are the reason for using an ad blocker, while just three in ten said battery life was the motive for installing the software.
The real key to the problem lies in irrelevant advertising. Poorly targeted ads annoy users, do not generate high revenues for publishers and waste brands’ advertising budgets. While most advertising online today employs some level of targeting, it tends to focus around building audience profiles. This is, without a doubt, a hugely important part of targeting, but it neglects a huge amount of data.
Implementing artificial intelligence (AI) could make this data work as hard as possible. It might seem like a buzzword, but AI has the potential to transform the way users are targeted. Machine learning technology assesses information received from billions of data points each time an ad request is logged. The system then implements predictive analysis in real time to determine which advertisement the user is most likely to engage with at that moment.
Should the user not engage, machine learning ensures the technology learns from the experience, and over time becomes more sophisticated, improving the likelihood of an engagement. As more users embrace connected devices, the influx of data will rapidly accelerate this process. By ensuring the most appropriate ad is served, it’s possible to dramatically improve campaign results.
On the publishers’ side of the industry, the likes of Forbes and the New York Times have experimented with preventing ad blocker users from accessing their content, while others like GQ are experimenting with micropayments. While these approaches may work for publishing giants, they are less likely to be effective across the publishing spectrum, and largely ignore the rather pointed message users are sending us.
If, as an industry, we can deliver hyper-targeted advertising through engaging formats like video, we will improve campaign results for brands and eCPMs for publishers. Once this trend is in place the market can begin phasing out advertising that is irrelevant and annoying, and focus on engaging ads that enhance the user experience. Better targeted advertising through data and AI—which benefits advertisers, publishers and users across the board—is what will win over the ad blockers.