The World Advertising Federation (WFA) is calling for brands to take more responsibility and action against mobile ad blocking.
Emphasizing the urgency, Stephan Loerke, CEO, WFA, told RTBlog via email: “The irresistible rise in ad blocking poses a very real existential threat to the future of digital marketing--and perhaps even the digital economy. Something has to give, and brand owners are determined to take the lead. This is a number-one priority for WFA and its members, given the future of the value exchange represented by the existing digital business model is contingent on the industry changing its current practices."
But what exactly does the WFA want advertisers to do? For starters, WFA envisions a three-point process, involving 1), the creation of international standards for digital advertising; 2), allowing consumers to establish clear preferences for the advertising they are willing to see; and 3), regularly monitoring consumer responses.
The WFA said it’s working with third parties to identify granular data around formats, frequencies and the volume of advertising that people no longer accept. The findings will differ by demographics and geographies although there are likely to be some commonalities in terms of what triggers people to block ads. WFA has already begun to identify the most credible methods of gathering consumer data.
The WFA says that brands must focus on the causes of ad blocking in order to find sustainable solutions. The ad industry must look hard at itself, which is what many pundits, industry associations and stakeholders have been saying.
“Advertising has always been cultural wallpaper, and we have a duty to make it as attractive and engaging as possible so that people enjoy it, [and don't] want to shut it out,” stated David Wheldon, CMO of RBS and WFA president.
Many industry stakeholders have called on advertisers to do their fair share to attend to the ad-blocking crisis: "As an industry, we need to focus on creating content that is authentic, relevant for consumers and drives talkability--creative that enhances rather than detracts from users’ online experiences," stated Luis Di Como, SVP of global media at Unilever and a member of the WFA Executive Committee.
The move by the WFA comes on the heels of the release of PageFair’s May 31 report “Adblocking Goes Mobile,” which revealed the extent to which smartphone users are blocking ads globally. The study showed that twice as many people are blocking ads on mobile browsers than on desktop browsers worldwide, how ad blocking has surged 90% in just one year since January 2015, and that 93% of the world’s ad blockers are in Asia-Pacific.
Also, according to the study, at least 419 million people globally are blocking ads on smartphones. China, India and Indonesia reported 319 million active ad-blocker browsers in March.
The PageFair study follows an analysis by Juniper released earlier this week, which found that by 2020 ad blocking would cost publishers nearly $28 billion (U.S.) a year.