My Prediction: Mobile Ads Will Be Blocked More Than Those On Desktop

According to Zenith’s new Advertising Expenditure Forecast, nearly $100 billion will be spent on mobile advertising around the world next year. It’s estimated that by 2018, mobile will make up 58% of the total ad market. Wow, clearly there is a stampede toward mobile advertising. In the rush, we need to consider this:

The number of people in the U.S. using ad blockers is set to rise to 69.8 million this year, more than a quarter of the country's Web users. And, says eMarketer, next year will see even more people avoiding ads online, rising to 32%, or nearly 87 million, of U.S. Web users.

Already users are anticipating the coming crush of MORE mobile ads, as evidenced by the fact that the use of smartphone ad-blocking software has jumped by 90% over the past year (PageFair reports), to a total of 420 million people worldwide. That represents about one out of every five mobile users across the globe.



Without getting into the stupid debate about how customers would stop blocking ads if they were "better targeted" or had "more relevant content" — or, "let's hide them as 'native'" — can we all just agree that if you give consumers the technology to avoid ads (read: ad blockers, DVRs, mute buttons, texting while commercials run, radio presets, etc.), they will use them. They don't care about your cost to produce content — especially the young, who routinely find whatever they want to watch pirated on the Internet.

The success of HBO, Showtime, Netflix and Amazon Prime is just further evidence that consumers have had their fill of ads.

As everyone rushes to mobile (outside of autonomous marketing platforms like Facebook and Instagram, etc.), the user experience is degrading by the minute. Stories that used to be broken up by one or two ads now have six or eight, with all sort of pull-downs and takeovers to disincent the reader to continue.

Only someone trying to wait out the remaining three hours of an acid trip would click on a listicle knowing that they will have to load 25 pages (with yet more ads on each, plus interstitials) to see the entire "story." Even the frequency of Facebook ads seem to be increasing.

I tend not to mind ads in apps, since they are generally tied to the purpose of the app, such as movie ads in Flixster, or ads from the apps themselves asking me if I want to "upgrade" to the ad-free app (frankly, a move that sends the subliminal signal that the app maker agrees ads are bad news).

I cannot imagine why anyone would waste money on mobile-browser-based ads that are impossible to read and appear in random locations. Those banks of sponsored links or "recommended stories,” for which the publisher gets paid, are nearly always listicle stories leavened with tons of ads that you leave once you see there is a " page two." Yippee, the publisher got paid for the click, but once bitten...

Although this may not be true of your kids, whom you cannot separate from their mobiles with a crowbar, the smartphone is not where I go to be "entertained" (although I confess to watching videos recommended by some of the funnier people I follow on Facebook). Rather, I see my cell phone as a place of utility, a tool to get information, communicate, interact with helpful apps like airlines and banks, then get the hell off.  This is a completely different mindset from sitting in front of my 32-inch computer screen, or my 45-inch flat-screen TV, where I have at least some tolerance for interruptive ads.

I am not looking forward to brands doubling and tripling down on their mobile ad spends. It can only make the mobile experience that much worse.

1 comment about "My Prediction: Mobile Ads Will Be Blocked More Than Those On Desktop ".
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  1. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, June 24, 2016 at 7:45 a.m.

    George, I agree 100 percent with you.  I believe however there is a solution.  The decision to download an ad blocker "happens" at some point, right?  I am just speculating that it occurs after another bad ad experience aka "the final straw."   Mobile bad ad experiences occur because of accidental clicks -- nobody intentionally wants to click on a mobile ad -- literally no one, but the ad gets in the way of a thumb or finger and wala -- a click occurs, the consumer is pissed, and that's the final straw.  The best thing Advertisers (and publishers) can do is not make mobile ads clickable. 

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