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Ad Blocking is on the Rise … Now What?

Published: November 11, 2015

Author: Jamie Gungler

Consumers have trust issues from years of bad practice and misunderstanding. In the beginning there were banners with dancing shadows and blinking lights that didn’t present any relevant content. It was all novel and accepted just as part of this wonderful new thing called the Internet. Eventually, the publishers and general tech-savvy enthusiasts with dollar signs in their eyes realized that bigger is better so web pages were flooded with more jumping figures and flashing colors and pop-overs and pop-unders and floating ads and unskippable commercials before your video … all demanding your attention.
Those ads were, and in some cases continue to be, so heavy that the pages would not load. And if they do load, you are lucky if your whole computer doesn’t crash or be taken over by malware. Further, the general public knows that the advertisers are spying on them when they look at that new pair of shoes on Amazon and those shoes follow them to each and every page as they surf the web … even within apparent content.
In the beginning, this was all tolerated. Now, advertising is an intrusion and has forced some to get so irritated and/or paranoid that they feel like they need to take action and download the latest ad blocking software.
Can we really blame them?
According to Pagefair and Adobe’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report, ad blocking use is on the ride at a staggering rate:

-Ad blocking software use grew 40% globally YoY from 2014-2015

-US-based users saw a 48% increase of ad blocking YoY

-There were 45 million monthly active users of ad blocking software in the US in Q2 of 2015

-UK ad blocking users increased by 82% YoY

Do the publishers need to change?

Publishers are the vehicle where the consumer and advertiser meet. Publishers are responsible for the presentation, content and monetization – that’s a lot to manage. They must attract readers to the site so that they can have a voice and say what needs to be said. They also need to get paid so they count on advertising, in part, to keep the whole business alive.

Video pop-up overlay.

If the content is bad, there will be no traffic. If there is no traffic, there is no revenue and there is no publisher. Should they therefore block content to users blocking ads? Should they charge a subscription for their content like YouTube is trying to do? Or, should more publishers join the trend of working directly with ad blocking platforms on a revenue-share model?
Yeah, I don’t want to take your survey.

Whatever the solution, publishers need to provide the best experience they can with all of their content, even the way they showcase their advertisers. They have an obligation to visitors to not distract or annoy with pop-ups and floating placements that obstruct the content users came to see.

Do the advertisers and agencies need to change?

In the beginning we worked to simply get the ads delivered for the flight, and once in a while, we tried to optimize toward clicks. Now, the game has changed. We can no longer focus on just the pacing of the placements; we have to count the click CPAs and view CPAs. There are 3rd-party tools to measure the attribution online and off; all of the data that must be analyzed and used to calculate ROI.
It is the duty of the advertiser to engage with potential customers in a positive way. In order to do this, we want to add personalization to the process so that the relevant message touches the relevant user. We cannot pull back on our data collection (especially since the consumer wants more relevant ads), can we? What we can do is develop creative that is a reasonable file size and we can also purchase ad space that is not intrusive to the user experience. We can take the time in this world of programmatic ad serving to audit the sites we serve to in order to make sure that they are presenting our messages in an optimal way for the user.

So where are we headed?

The rise of ad blockers is an important factor that will impact on the success of the advertising industry no matter what action (or inaction) is taken. The consumer has grown to mistrust the advertising industry as a whole, and we can no longer ignore the problem. Trust needs to be restored to ensure that what we do is received as it was intended … as a means to inform a consumer of a product or service that will add value to their life.
Even if a person is by not blocking ads, they will continue to tune out irrelevant or annoying ads. Publishers and advertisers alike are failing to connect with the audience and instead are pushing them away. We are in sales and therefore need to listen to the wants and needs of the customer. If they are fed up in the way we are trying to spread the word, it needs to change. Ad blocking is not new, but with the increase in users applying these blocking services, the ad game is going to need to evolve.

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