Today’s advertising landscape is a highly evolved and targeted one. Tools ranging from basic ‘click-to-boost’ capabilities to sophisticated data dashboards that allow businesses of all sizes to identify, segment and engage their digital audiences. Advertisers can opt to show consumers only the most relevant information, prompting them to buy products they are already looking for.
However, consumers are echoing a very different sentiment. According to a recent report by MindShare, more than 90 percent of consumers in APAC plan on utilising an ad-blocking software if they felt they were seeing too many.
Even popular mobile internet browser apps such as Safari and Chrome now offer built-in ad blocking technology to scrub disruptive ads, the latter offering a blocking service more stringent on mobile than on the desktop. If left unchecked, ad blockers are expected to cause USD27 billion in lost revenues globally by 2020.
So how can brands bridge this vast consumer-experience gap?
The bad ad purge
More consumers are using ad blockers not because they dislike ads, but because advertising disrupts the user experience. The placement of too many ads on a single page shifts the focus of the content which can be irksome. Similarly, a simple two-minute video on YouTube could turn into a two minute and thirty seconds video, with unstoppable and irrelevant ads interrupting the content and adding to their data consumption.
For users, employing ad blockers not only means fewer interruptions, but also faster load times and longer battery life due to lower data consumption. With mobile users no longer needing to research, download and install ad blocking apps, this is fast becoming a challenge for brands targeting the mobile-first consumer in Asia. Unsurprisingly, an eMarketer report has uncovered that younger users – the generation of digital natives – are more likely to use ad blockers.
While an increase in the adoption of ad blockers may sound like the end of the world for digital advertisers, ironically, it may be the one factor that saves it. Ad blockers help to purge the most intrusive types of ads, and push brands to come up with better, more creative, more targeted ads.
By discouraging the use of in-your-face advertising practices across the web, brands can attempt to win back the trust of consumers who are jaded by ad and subsequently reward brands that think through campaigns to ensure that they are relevant to their target audience.
What can brands do about ad blockers?
It is not too late for brands to rethink their digital advertising strategy to better reach their audience and get around ad blockers. Some tips to keep in mind include:
- Go native. Websites like Buzzfeed earn the majority of their revenue from native ads. For this format, content is more important than the form. Soft advertisements from many famous public accounts on WeChat can also be described as native ads.
- Balance tech with creativity. Online advertising, especially performance-based ads, should balance creativity and technology. Believe in the power of data: Native ads deliver nine percent more in terms of brand affinity and 18 percent higher sales volumes than traditional banner ads. Video advertising click-through rates (CTR) are three times higher than native ads or interstitial ads, and 10 times higher than banner ads. Playable ads are even more efficient: compared with traditional ads, the CTR is 123 percent higher.
- Enhance, don’t disrupt. Always remember that better advertising is essential, but it is also crucial that advertising does not dominate the user experience. As long as advertising is viewed as a distraction, people will use ad blockers. The only way to change that is to ensure that advertising supports a better user experience and doesn’t detract from it.
Ad blocking will continue to grow as long as brands are more concerned about vanity metrics such as advertising reach. Brands will have to realise that users will continue to install ad blockers in order to enjoy an uninterrupted experience while browsing on the web – and brands need to start rethinking their advertising strategy in order to get through users’ ad blocking software.