Back in the bad old days when the internet was like the wild west, marketers were free to run amok with sneaky ad placements, pop ups and click bait that would drive traffic through to sometimes unsavoury sites, much to the annoyance of the user.
Such unscrupulous tactics dating back nearly 20 years has led to the user fighting back. The introduction of ad blocking software has exponentially grown over the past few years, and there is now real concern that publishers & advertisers are at risk of losing out on millions of pounds of lost revenue as a result.
It is estimated that ad blockers will cost advertisers $41.4bn in revenue next year, double the amount lost in 2015. The problems however don’t stop there. This technology is now starting to become more mainstream on mobile devices with this functionality becoming an option on iOS 9 as well as being readily available via Firefox and Chrome browsers
What about the advertisers?
It’s clear to see why online publishers are starting to sweat as popularity grows, but what about the marketer who have used online advertising as a staple lead generation tool?
Well, for a start, putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket is a risky marketing strategy. Employing a multi-channel approach not only mitigates the risk of a single channel strategy, it also increases the reach of the campaign. Yes, this adds more complexity to managing the campaign but it also reduces the threat of your message being throttled.
Data, or lack of it, is usually is the main driver behind online advertising campaigns.
Exploiting interactions with your company website is nothing new, dynamic remarketing advertising can use this data to personalise the adverts you see on other sites, an excellent practitioner of this is bookings.com. However, in a recent poll conducted by Adobe and PageFair, 50% of respondents claimed that they would consider using ad blocker software if they felt their personal data was being misused. 41% claimed that they would install the blocker technology if the quantity of ads increased significantly.
On the flip side of this marketers can use display advertising to ‘go fishing’ for prospects that match their target audience. Online properties outline their readerships information via media packs allowing advertisers to select properties that give them the best chance of generating leads from potential customers. Without any affinity with these readers the advertising may not be relevant which again could lead to users opting out of adverts.
So with the threat of ad blockers becoming main stream approaching, what are the alternatives for advertisers and marketers to a) protect their revenue streams and b) promote their message, product or service?
One solution that has seen a meteoric rise over the past 2 years is the emergence of Native Advertising. By adverting content ‘instream’ on publisher’s websites mitigates users who have installed ad blocker technology. Content is formatted in the same way the rest of the editorial is displayed to reduce the intrusive nature associated with tradition online advertising. The results are also encouraging. Typical display advertising yields a click through rate (CTR) of about 0.05 – 0.1% whereas native advertising can deliver between 10 and 20 times that amount. According to an article published in the Huffington post back in 2014, the benefits don’t stop there, purchase intent is 53% higher than traditional banner ads.
The idea of promoted content has also leeched onto social media platforms which are now bolstering their advertising offering with sponsored or featured posts which again appearing in stream of user generated content.
No doubt click through rates will start to decline once more and more advertisers start embracing this channel and users become more savvy.
The advertiser strikes back
So is that it for the traditional advertiser? Either adapt or become extinct? Well, it appears not. Publishers and media companies are now planning on fighting fire with fire. The rise in ad blocker adoption has led to the birth of the new breed of ‘anti-ad-blockers’ technology which pitched to media companies, help them counteract the impact of lost revenue by displaying ads to those with ad-blockers enabled.
This tit-for-tat tech war amongst users and advertisers is sure to continue for the foreseeable future, although one thing is for certain that a happy medium needs to be found that allows advertisers to market their products to users without abusing their data and/or diluting premium content with a torrent of marketing assets.