Ad Blocking: the Arch Nemesis of Advertising—Or Is It?

March 17, 2016

Posted in Blog

Ad blocking is the arch nemesis of all marketers who are fortunate enough to have a budget for running paid campaigns (talk about making our jobs even more complex than they already are, right?).

When we put our consumer hats on, it’s justifiable why this technology exists. Consumers have been dealing with years of scummy advertising practices ranging from free iPod scams to malware, which the IAB says still costs the ad industry billions each year. If you were a super-smart developer who was sick of seeing irrelevant ads, wouldn’t you build this same technology? Given that many of you readers—yes you, fellow marketers—are likely using ad blockers, the answer is probably yes.

But marketing, especially advertising, has changed a lot in the last few years—the biggest being that brands are making big investments in quality and engagement. And there are no shortcuts to achieve these outcomes: it’s a sink or swim ecosystem in which marketers have no choice but to give their audiences what they want, which is quality content coupled with an advertising experience that puts them in charge.

So let’s look at the silver lining of ad blocking. The technology forces marketers to deliver better brand experiences. Exactly how? We interviewed Giant Media’s VP of product & engineering Nic Delorme to share his insight.

Recommendation #1: Know the Current State of Affairs

“Online publishers have always needed to monetize their sites to justify costs.  Users know that and are willing to accept some level of ad intrusion in exchange for content.  Ad technology companies have become very creative in the manner in which they serve ads.  As the boundaries of ad intrusion has grown, so has the movement to block.  Formats like interstitials, page takeovers and auto play video have tested user acceptance.”

TLDR: Users are tired of intrusive ad formats.

Recommendation #2: Don’t Want Your Ads Blocked? Use Non-Aggressive Ad Formats

“The current push-back by users is a direct result of over-aggressive ad formats.  Native advertising that is gracefully blended into content and is skippable by the user produce both higher user engagement and lower user frustration.”

TLDR: Native is the market’s response to audiences pushing back.

Recommendation #3: Don’t Use Native as a Shortcut

“Even native ads, though, at this point are being targeted by ad blockers like Opera’s new ad blocking technology being released in their new browser.  As a result, many large publishers like Forbes, The Guardian, New York Times, and The Washington Post are detecting whether a user has ad blocking enabled and asking them to either purchase a subscription to their content or disable the ad blocker.”

TLDR: By definition, you can’t let quality of your native ad campaigns slide—ever. Otherwise, history will repeat itself.

Recommendation #4: Empower Publishers to Take Action

“Publishers should become familiar with the LEAN and DEAL solutions that IAB recommends.”

TLDR: Follow these step-by-step guidelines to make sure that you develop the most compelling advertising experience possible.

Recommendation #5: Be Prepared for the Future

“The next few years will revolutionize online advertising.  Publishers rely both on user traffic and the ability to advertise to continue to exist.  Finding a user experience that is profitable for both sides of the equation will be critical.”

TLDR: Focus on building bonds instead of making tradeoffs.

The Bottom Line: How Does All of This Make Your Job Harder?

“Giant Media has been less affected by ad blocking in general because of our native ad formats and out-stream video.  Our videos are never run as pre-roll and embed directly into web site content. Giant Media is finding the right balance of user experience, publisher monetization, and advertiser results by making sure our ads are native, non-obtrusive and that the value exchange for the user is reasonable.”

TLDR: Be careful when choosing a native ad partner. You need to make sure that you choose a partner with the right incentives, who won’t take shortcuts.