Commentary

Don't Fear Ad Blockers if You Have The Right Ads

Chrome’s ad blocker launches Feb. 15. The move has been met with some concern, if only because of the threat it could pose to advertisers.

“Could,” because Chrome’s move, to block ads not in compliance with Coalition for Better Ads standards, should come as no surprise to publishers or advertisers. Google has shown an invested interest in improving user experience over the last year, joining up with the Coalition for Better Ads, and advocating on behalf of quality formats.

The lesson then, as it is now: Don’t fear ad blockers if you have the right ads.

The Coalition for Better Ads has been providing guidelines for formats to avoid and which to actively embrace. Users don’t want to see obtrusive banners, auto-play, forced takeover ads or other rude interfaces. (It’s what gave rise to ad blockers in the first place). Brands and advertisers shouldn’t want them, either.

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No one wants to talk to someone who is obnoxious, loud and distracting. So why wouldn’t end-users hold advertising to the same standard?

Brands, would you want to be friends with your ads? If not, you’re already well behind the eight-ball. Publishers, sometimes friends of bad ads, are just as guilty for inviting them into browsers and mobile experiences. “Guilty by association” applies in the eyes of consumers here. There are other ways to engage, and Chrome’s ad-blocking announcement will make them the norm in short order.

If you’re looking for a road map on how to create better ads, there’s still time to catch up. The Coalition’s standards are a great guide on what not to do. They start advertisers and publishers on the road to determining what they can effectively integrate into sites.

The banner was created when resources and creativity were limited. When internet advertising barely proved effective. Those times are long gone, and the ad format should be, too. Users are now craving a brand experience that’s a two-way street.

And that’s where the education process comes in for those rushing to change their ways. Takeover ads and banners aren’t innovative. Rich media experiences that utilize motion, utility, 360 video and other functionality native to the smartphone are.

These aren’t ad technologies of the future, despite what corners of the mobile web would appear to believe. They’re available for brands and publishers to take advantage of today. Doing so puts you in compliance with the Coalition’s standards. But most importantly, it increases the opportunity for a positive interaction with customers. Isn’t that the whole point of advertising to begin with?

Chrome’s ad blocker isn’t a death knell for advertising. Rather, it’s a spark for creativity going forward. Brands that want to embrace the challenge of new formats and innovative interfaces will be the ones rewarded in this new order.

No, ad blockers will never be a friend to the industry. But by sparking the industry out of complacency and into a renewed era of creativity and innovation-based studios? Perhaps it’s worth thanking this specific ad blocker someday.

4 comments about "Don't Fear Ad Blockers if You Have The Right Ads".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 25, 2018 at 6:24 a.m.

    Agreed Daniel. However what's still missing in the digital ad format equation are much tighter standards for what is acceptable. In TV it's very simple. Your commercial appears in a break which does not interrupt program content scenes or sequences. So viewers, while not necessarily paying attention to the ads or even remaining in the room, know they are coming and that program content will shortly resume. Why can't the rules---perhaps several types of rules---be promulgated for ditital ad placements--like not interrupting the viewing of editorial content segments---be established -and enforced?If users knew that a certain amount of advertising was scheduled on their visits to websites and it appeared in an expected and less bothersome manner---like letting you finish what you are reading or letting you view at least a full page before intruding----this would solve much of the problem. We should remember that today's online visitor is also todays TV viewer, radio listener and magazine reader.Why can't digital behave like traditional media where ad placements and formats are involved? Asking tens of thousands of advertisers to avoid certain pitfalls is a start but it's not enough. Why not study the matter, test various formatting options, gauge consumer reactions, then create standards for how the ads---various types of ads---can appear?In other words the ad sellers should offer much more guidance. After all, it's their audience that's being sold to advertisers.

  2. Dan Ciccone from rEvXP, January 25, 2018 at 9:43 a.m.

    Chrome's ad blocker will be welcomed by many; however, studies show that those between 18-34 are already using 3rd party ad blockers and the previous year's usage showed an increase of 30%.  2017's numbers have no been released yet, but it's safe to assume we will see continued increases in the adoption of this software.

    I would argue it doesn't have to do with creating good ads.  It has everything to do with publishers pushing intrusive, obtrusive, and content-interrupting ads that ruin the reading/viewing experience just so they can fulfill some antiquated metric for the advertiser.

    Ad Choices simply does not work.  Anyone who has tried to customize the ads they do and do not want to see through ad choices is almost always met with some kind of error.  If the industry can't figure out a way after all of these years to put some power into the hands of the reader/viewer, then the viewer must take matters into his own hands.

    Content is king - long live the ad blocker (Ghostery is my favorite by the way).

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited replied, January 25, 2018 at 10:19 a.m.

    OK, after so much time, you would think someone would have tried it. The word of the year(s) is disruption. Disruption breaks your program, your reading, your whatever you are doing. In our Bigger Better Best mentality, the more disruption, the better and they try to outdo each other. You have to make sure to corral the horses and sit Rover and your little kids have to hold your hand when you cross the street. 

  4. Michael Koontz from AdSupply, January 26, 2018 at 4:45 p.m.

    The Coalition for Better Advertising’s study told us what we already knew… some formats are just too intrusive to be acceptable (countdown delay, audio on, popups, ads that move or cover content).  Naturally, we don't tolerate ads that disrupt to get our attention, but we also hate ads that politely wait for a natural break in our activity. (interstitials, popunders, midrolls, exit ads).  Seemingly, we only tolerate ads that we don't notice or we can immediately skip.  How well do those work for advertisers?  How much are those benign ads paying publishers?  Can our favorite publishers survive on the income from those ad units? What if they cannot?
    I regularly see performance reports on ‘acceptable ads’ and more intrusive ad units such as pre-roll, popunders, interstitals, pushdowns, popups and poststitials.  The truth is that large format, even disruptive ads do provide greater performance on most metrics - including conversion, viewability and branding KPIs, but advertisers don’t like good people associating their brand with a bad experience.  Moreover, quality publishers don’t like annoying their audiences with ads that Google and/or Betterads.org have targeted, so most premium sites are beginning to shy away from these formats.  In the end, this migration to acceptable advertising is well-meaning, but I fear it could hurt everyone.  While users might enjoy a less annoying experience, many publishers won’t survive on diminished ad revenues from low CPM, ‘acceptable’ ad formats.  Get ready for pay walls on your favorite content.  Local news sites will be among the first to feel this pain because journalism isn’t cheap, and they have relied on the high CPMs these ad units generate just to stay afloat in an otherwise largely commoditized programmatic ecosystem.  

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