Ad Blocking Is An Opportunity, Not An Obstacle

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:

  • Know your audience Always start with target audience exploration — their behaviors, attitudes, media consumption and consumer journey will help you figure out where you need to be and when you need to be there. Plus, the more you know about your consumer, the better chance you have of coming up with a plan that actually drives conversions.
  • Understanding the media landscape and how ad blocking is evolving Don’t keep creating the same types of ads hoping consumers will stop blocking them. Explore other avenues that have replaced or supplemented (depending on how you look at it) display ads and pre-roll, which already cemented online real estate. Think sponsored content, content integration, and native advertising.
  • Develop original content with “owned media destinations” If users value your brand, there’s an opening to become a publisher and build brand preference through content. Company publications like Red Bull’s Red Bulletin or AmEx’s OPEN Forum are killing the game.

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.

5 comments about "Ad Blocking Is An Opportunity, Not An Obstacle".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 31, 2017 at 8:22 a.m.

    Stephanie, how can it be that worldwide 20% of smartphone users employ ad blockers but in the U.S. the corresponding percentage is only 2%---per "The New York Times"?As for your basic thesis that advertisers should create more relevant and/or engaging ads so users will want to see them, this is a "solution" that has often been proclaimed so, with all due respect, I can't fault you for restating it. And, I agree that it's always desirable for advertisers to put out the most enticing and worthwhile ads possible---in any medium. But trying to get thousands and thousands of advertisers to act in unison on this---even if one can define what is engaging advertising for so diverse a spectrum of preducts and services--- is a hopeless task. Except for some individual initiatives, here and there, it will never happen. Moreover, most of us who use blockers---myself included--do so to avoid all ads. As a rule we do not switch the things on and off every time we see a "good" or a "bad" ad. We respond much more to the collective, negative, impression of digital ads and the herky-jerky they appear, disrupting our perusal of content. Until the digital ad industry fixes its broken system of ad placement and scheduling, tracking ( hounding ? ) consumers, etc. lots of users will continue to use ad blockers---in my humble opinion, of course.

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__ replied, March 31, 2017 at 2:26 p.m.

    ED the words "hopeless' and "it will never happen" are quite un-American except for a legacy company hanging onto their past business model. FYI- The ad blocker for Live Tv is called the ad skipping DVR. Stop bashing the digital industry because it tries to innovate and has attribution else we all would still be looking up prgrams on a paper edition of TV Guide.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 31, 2017 at 3:12 p.m.

    Why don't you stop bashing traditional media, LZ, with your distorted appreciation of how it works, how its audience is researched, what it delivers, etc. and face the facts---as just about everyone else with an open mind is doing. I talk to lots of people in digital media and most conceed that this is a medium with really big problems that need to be resolved. The smoke and mirror days when zelots kept chanting, "TV is dying", by which they meant ,"Come to digital", are over. They have come, they looked closely and many did not like what they saw. Just read all of the articles in Media Post and elsewhere and you will see that for yourself. I happen to feel that digital has great potential----not as a total substitute for TV and other media, but as a worthwhile partner. But first, it must organize itself to be both advertiser-friendly and, at the same time, learn to treat its audiences with respect and care. If saying that is what you call "bashing" then I plan to continue bashing digital.Sorry.

  4. Leonard Zachary from T___n__ replied, April 4, 2017 at 1:55 p.m.

    Ed you need to APOLOGIZE becuase you comment FAKE NEWS about me. TV is not DYING, its changing to DIGITAL. Wake Up!!

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 4, 2017 at 2:15 p.m.

    My problem, LZ, is that your endless chanting puts me and probably a lot of other grownups, to sleep----zzzzzzz.

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