In the US ad blocking is set to grow by 34 percent this year – that’s almost 70 million US web users! Even worse for companies who favor traditional digital ads, this figure is set to rise to a whopping 87 million by 2017. But, in a world in which consumers have experienced ad-free surfing, should companies fight ad blocking? Or should they accept and learn from it?
A report by eMarketer shows that the number of internet users now making use of ad blocking software is almost 70 million (up from 39 million just two years ago). And, although desktop and laptops are still far more likely to be equipped with ad blocking software than smartphones, the number of mobile device ad blocker users is steadily increasing too – with 11 percent of smartphone users predicted to use ad blocking software by 2017.The growth of ad blocking is astounding, but it’s not particularly surprising. Pop-up ads, banners, long non-skippable video ads, and all the rest are incredibly invasive and annoying. With just the click of a button, internet users can remove all of this unwanted noise and enjoy a much more peaceful online experience – and who wouldn’t sign up for that?
But, whilst internet users may be happy with ad blocking, companies are not – with many complaining about the cost of the potentially unlawful removal of the ads which they pay so much to display (an estimated $41.4 billion worldwide). Indeed, an increasing number of companies are seeking to fight ad blocking in the courts.
But, whilst I can sympathise with these companies, winning back the right to advertise to consumers in the ways they did five years ago is not the right way to go. Even if companies are able to effectively counter ad blockers (and there’s a good chance they can’t), they need to ask themselves: do we really want to be responsible for damaging our customers’ internet experiences?
Rather than attempt to return to the status quo, more innovative companies have accepted that old-school advertising techniques do disrupt internet users’ browsing experiences, and are looking to engage consumers in alternative ways. Less invasive marketing techniques (such as native advertising, social media marketing, and dynamic ad insertion) are on the rise, and they’re proving to be effective.
Internet users are more savvy than ever. The truth is that traditional online advertising techniques are not appropriate for the digitally aware consumer. The rising popularity of ad blocking software should be taken as an indication that, in order to effectively engage modern buyers, businesses need to think outside of the box. If companies accept that this is the case, then both consumers and companies alike are in for an interesting time.