The significant rise in ad blocking software has become a major talking point in the digital media industry and beyond. It has become such a big topic that it has even reached into the realms of popular culture. The subject was the main feature in two episodes of the last season of South Park and it even featured on the Howard Stern show when one of the callers informed the host of the availability of ad blocking software.
There is no doubt about it, people have undergone a growing frustration at being constantly bombarded with Internet adverts; hence the growth in the use of ad blocking software. People want to be able to browse the web ad free.
As South Park addressed this season, it has become more and more difficult to identify some ads. Digital marketers have become very adept at disguising advertising content. Even trying to read a simple news story can present a minefield of ad navigation. The more people have been bombarded with a whole array of adverts at every turn, the more they have become weary of them; especially as many of the adverts are probably not even relevant to them.
As people try to escape ads, so digital marketers are trying more and more ways to sneak ads into digital content. This in return leads to people becoming more disillusioned and adapting more ad avoidance techniques. All of this ends up creating a vicious circle.
What needs to change?
Now that ad blocking is such a big deal it does not seem likely it will just go away. According to Eyeo, which is the parent company of AdBlock Plus in the US, 13.2 million people used ad blocking software in October 2015. This was an incredible 44% increase on those who were using the software in 2015.
There is certainly concern in the world of digital media. Much of the current talk surrounds the fact that the industry really has not helped itself. There has been too much saturation of advertising with little thought as to what the customer experience is like. The only way that advertisers can try and halt the growth in the use of ad blocking software is to give viewers adverts that add to their viewing experience. This may mean creating adverts that provide better entertainment, or targeting adverts so that the people viewing them will find them to be relevant. If providers of advertising content do not address its shorts falls then the people viewing the content will continue to use ad blocking software and the ads themselves will lose their effectiveness.