Ad blocking is a hot topic. While many argue it’s still in its infancy stage, it’s not to be ignored. Fun fact: “One in five smartphone users, or almost 420 million people worldwide, block advertising when browsing the web on cellphones. Still, only 4.3 million Americans, or 2.2 percent of smartphone owners, use ad blockers,” says this New York Times article.
What’s most worrisome is not that ad blocking exists. It’s the reason it ever started at all. It indicates consumers view advertising negatively — with ad blocking they can stop ads from being served to them. Maybe it’s because they find them invasive, annoying or even irrelevant. None of these bodes well for the future of advertising. And yet, I can’t help but think — can you blame customers for using ad blockers to have faster site loads, and the ability to watch a 15-second video without having to watch a 30-second commercial before that has no relevance to what they want to see?
So, where should advertisers go from here? A technology arms race is not the answer; we need to be thinking smarter, not harder. Here are some considerations you should keep in mind as you’re media planning:
From my point of view, advertisers should always view ad blocking as an opportunity versus an obstacle because it challenges brands to think more creatively. Focus on your audience, focus on quality content and you’ll see a difference. Similarly to the way spam filters have gotten better at letting in good emails and keeping out bad ones, over time ad blockers will become less about “blocking” and more about “filtering.” Now, more than ever, consumers expect value and personalization. So, always strive to provide that, with or without ad blocking.