Ad Blocking: Armageddon for Online Marketers?

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Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals - CAMP Ad Blocking

The increased use of ad blocking applications increased significantly in 2015 and is expected to continue in 2016.

How the Increased Adoption of Ad Blockers Presents Another Challenge for Marketers

Online ad blocking is big news. Although introduced some time ago, 2015 saw a significant rise in the use of ad blocker installations, resulting in fewer online ads being seen by target audiences. And, it’s just the beginning. First off, what are ad blockers? Wordstream defined this term in their excellent blog post published in October of 2015.  They state: Ad blockers – sometimes known as content blockers – are simple software programs that prevent ads from being shown on websites. Ad blockers are typically browser add-ons, and are available for the Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer web browsers. AdBlock Plus is the most popular ad blocker on the web. This browser plugin has been downloaded and installed millions of times, and is available for a range of different browsers. Although AdBlock Plus is the most popular ad blocker, dozens of alternatives are available.(Source) Second, why do marketers care about ad blockers? Well, for many major reasons, but most of all because they are increasing in popularity. Adobe and PageFair often quoted study, the 2015 Ad Blocking Report, found the following startling trends:
  • The number of users for Ad Blocking Software grew by 41% globally in the past year.
  • Ad blocking in Europe grew by 35% in the last year, and 48% in the US
  • 16% of the US online population blocked ads in Q2, 2015
  • The estimated loss of global revenue from blocked advertising during 2015 was $21.8 Billion.
(Source) Further, with ad-blocking apps routinely among the most popular downloads for Apple’s iPhone (source), it makes the future of online advertising very precarious indeed. How can marketers continue to grow their digital strategy in the face of ad blockers? Great question, and one that Wired magazine addresses in their September 2015 article, “Please Don’t Block our Ads.” Their advice (while giving a great breakdown on how to actually block ads in the iOS 9 platform), is to be diligent before installing ad blockers, as some applications limit more than just ads – things like images and videos. They go on to mention the economics of online advertising, including the insights gained by marketers to drive effective content – the very content internet users thirst for when making any kind of purchasing decision. Further and most importantly, online advertising drives revenue – “keeping the lights on for companies.” (source) Unfortunately for online marketers, the benefits of ad blocking are too attractive to ignore – like saving on page loading time and bandwidth that ends up saving the consumer money, particularly on their mobile bills, not to mention the beauty of a ‘clean’ webpage. The solution may be not to fight the wave of ad blocking at all. Content marketers will agree this is one more reinforcement of the rule to implement as much valuable content as possible. As many experts agree, “The new frontier of marketing will be service, not sales.” (source). While some users may not bother to implement ad blocking for a host of reasons, by focusing on valuable content strategies, marketers may not see a deep dip in sales. The effects on media companies, however, will be vastly different. So, as usual, we marketers find ourselves at a bit of a loss with changing technology. No bother, though, as we’ve been here before. If there’s one thing our profession can count on, it’s overcoming challenges on how to get our message to target groups. Ad blocker or not, you can’t keep a good marketing message down.   About the Author: Nadine Evans - Canadian Association of Marketing ProfessionalsRaised in a small town in Newfoundland, Nadine headed west after graduating and fell in love with the bustle of Toronto. Her true passion is marketing and she’s spent the last 15 years in marketing roles, and is the co-founder and CEO of the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP). When she’s not connecting with other marketers through CAMP, Nadine is at the soccer field, gym, or swimming pool cheering on her two favourite munchkins, trying not to become that mom everyone fears.    

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