There’s been much discussion recently, about ad blocking signaling a period of doom and gloom in the world of advertising. Is this really the case? The first thing to say is that the discussion is certainly warranted. In the 12 months prior to June 2015, ad blocking in the UK grew by 18%. Apple has also added fuel to the fire by announcing it is allowing iOS 9 users to enable ad blocking straight from the Apple store.
So, there’s certainly a discussion to be had and changes definitely need to be made if the ad blocking increase trend is to be halted, but the situation probably isn’t quite at global disaster level yet. Let’s take a look at the problems presented by ad blocking and how its rise in use can be abated.
Why is ad blocking a problem?
The most obvious losers to ad blocking are publishers who rely on advertising content to help facilitate the survival of their brand online. One if the worst things about losing advertising to ad blockers is that much RTB software doesn’t currently recognize if ads are being blocked so paying for advertising does not mean that your ads are actually reaching people. From a financial point of view this is a major problem.
It’s not just advertisers that are losing out either. Often blocked ad content is not replaced by anything so the user experience is significantly adversely affected. Surely everyone would be much better off if instead of ads being blocked altogether, better quality and more personalized ads were published.
Solving the problem
One of the major obstacles to solving the ad blocking problem is the fact that advertising allowed itself to go too far down the road of poor content. The reason people block ads is because they become an irritant when they are poorly devised, inappropriate and lack entertainment value.
As the Australian Ad news site recently reported, US research suggests that the phenomenon of ad blocking is being fed mostly by young men, who would be less likely to block if the advertising content they were presented with provided them with any entertainment value. The Guardian newspaper in the UK has also been considering the ad blocking issue. According to global revenue director Tim Gentry, the publishers are looking at ways to personalize advertising to make it more palatable to readers. Discussions are still in their early stages but Gentry thinks that publishers need to join forces to evolve strategies and persuade users not to go down the ad blocking route.
The consensus seems to be that the advertising industry needs to up its game; for too long ads have been allowed to become generic and meaningless. This has led to users switching off from their content and wanting to remove them from their lives. Now advertisers need to work on providing content that has real value, is more personalized and is entertaining; providing this type of content means that users will no longer want to block it.