Rob is a senior account executive at BJL and works in our brand team. He has a few thoughts on ad blocking.
It’s a topic many of us have been avoiding for a while, but adblocking is a phenomenon we can’t afford to ignore anymore.
It’s not new of course – in the days before digital advertising, if we wanted to avoid an ad we simply turned the page or looked the other way – but these days adblockers are costing advertisers severely. Adblock Plus, the world’s most popular ad blocking extension, has now been downloaded more than 500 million times, costing the global advertising industry $22 billion in 2015.
It’s our own fault. As digital marketeers, we’ve pestered, stalked, obscured articles and videos that people want to see, slowed down loading page times, and served ads to people that have no interest in what we’re selling. Programmatic advertising is one of the worst offenders. How many times has a pair of shoes you viewed once and decided not to buy followed you around the web? As a result of ads like this, people are taking measures to avoid the stuff that we make. The popularity of services such as Spotify and Netflix, where people are willing to pay for ad-free content, shows that people want to be free of interruptions.
Bad ads are disruptive and a waste of everyone’s time.
Let’s be clear, people don’t hate adverts, they just hate irrelevant ads. As an industry we’ve shown too little respect to consumers, so we shouldn’t be surprised that people are looking for new ways to avoid the stuff we make.
But ad blocking isn’t all doom and gloom. Understanding why consumers are relying on the service presents an opportunity for us to change how we interact with people and deliver better advertising experiences. Advertising works best when we invent big brand building creative ideas that can be deployed across multiple channels like Dove’s Real Beauty or Sony Bravia’s Colour Like No Other.
A recent study by the IAB, found that 2/3 people would be willing to disable ad blocker software in the right circumstances. This shows that people want to have control over the ads they see.
A digital campaign that really sets the standard for what we should be creating, and one of my favourites over the last year, has been Taco Bell’s ‘Tacbot’. They teamed up with the messaging app Slack to allow users to order their next meal without ever leaving the messaging platform. This is great example of a brand finding solutions to match people’s changing behaviour and using non-traditional communication channels to sell a product; without stalking and interrupting people online.
Now’s the time for advertisers to connect with people in a meaningful way and serve up experiences that add value to people’s lives. We need to focus on quality entertainment like Red Bull Stratos, or shortening the purchasing behaviour like ‘Tacbot’, rather than mindless automation and interruptions.
After all, there’s more to digital than just creating wallpaper with branding.