Can you believe it’s almost Halloween? I see ghouls and goblins and all sorts of things meant to scare me — but the scariest thing I’ve seen all month is the dramatic rise in discussions about ad blocking. If you aren’t scared, at least a little, you should be.
That being said, all the talk might just lead us to a better creative format for ads.
The topic of ad blocking pops up about every four to five years and should always be taken seriously. While statistics on how much is actually going on range from high to low, the fact that our parents are talking about blocking ads signals it’s time to take the issue seriously.
Ad blocking is a topic because — let’s face it — many online ad formats are not very good. While they do increase awareness and customer actions, online spots are not thoroughly enjoyable in the way TV advertising is. That fact, coupled with the almost infinite inventory that’s available due to the sheer volume of ad types employed, leads consumers to start tuning us out, or getting annoyed.
Ad blocking might be a good thing if, rather than leading to the demise of advertising in digital (it won’t) it leads us to a place where there are better, more creative and effective, and slightly fewer, ads.
There is a simple law of supply and demand at play. A smaller supply of stronger, more effective ad formats would lead to higher prices for them. Online video ads are still priced at a higher CPM because of their relative scarcity and effectiveness.
Search ads are targeted, and finite when you examine the law of diminishing returns against the long tail vs. branded, higher-trafficked terms. Online display ads are effective when targeted, properly placed, and frequency-capped, with strong measurement in place.
Good advertising works. Data-driven advertising works. An untargeted blitzkriegs of ads in non-standard formats, overwhelming a page of content, is not effective. As I mentioned in a recent column, mobile ads kind of fit this bill, unfortunately.
If ad blocking is employed to block the untargeted jumble of poorly placed ads, the better, more effective ads could break through the clutter. If publishers worked with the companies creating ad blockers to allow the best, most targeted, most impactful ads to be displayed, their effort could benefit the advertising industry. Ad blockers don’t need to block all ads — maybe they should just block the untargeted ones?
I have no idea where the discussion of ad blocking will end up, but there's potential for a very positive impact on our industry. Viewability is also on the rise as a topic, and both of these discussions are aimed at making advertising better, not obsolete.
Ad skipping software exists on TV, but many people still see the ads. The good ads still resonate and have impact. The same can be said for online advertising. it’s just that the conversation hasn’t quite progressed to that state yet.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel there could be a positive impact from this discussion, or am I too optimistic about the business?