The Advertisers Solution to Ad Blockers

May 27, 2016 · Analysis Industry Developments

With an estimated 198 million ad-block users worldwide, advertisers are working to develop strategies to advertise to people who use apps to block advertising. While only 20 percent of internet users in the United States use ad-blocking software, a report published by the International News Media Association indicates that ad-block users are more likely to be tech-savvy millennials.

These qualities make this group highly valuable to advertisers, so learning how to market to ad blockers is an important skill for any business to master.

Re-Evaluating Successful Ad Campaigns

The success of internet advertising campaigns were once judged by the amount of impressions, or times the ad was loaded on a site, by advertisers. Now, advertisers know that only half of these impressions are ever noticed. Even if a user doesn’t have an ad blocker installed, his brain may skip over the advertising and never see it. Instead, advertisers are evaluating advertising based on the conversions and clicks each ad receives.

How Advertisers are Adapting

With ad block usage on the rise, many publishers and advertisers have adapted different strategies to work around ad-block apps. These strategies include:

  • Asking users to turn off their ad-block apps. Some publishers ask users to whitelist their sites. For publishers who provide useful content and have loyal readers, this strategy works.
  • Hiding content from users who use ad blockers. Other publishers force users to whitelist their sites before they can see the content on the page.
  • Offering ad block users a trade. Many ad blockers install these apps to guard their privacy. Some publishers ask users for their email address in exchange for them viewing ad-free content. Of course, the publishers then use the email address for targeted advertising.
  • Inviting users to subscribe. Publishers can also ask ad blockers to pay a yearly subscription fee, so they don’t have to view advertising. This tactic isn’t helpful for advertisers, but it does work for some publishers.
  • Applying for whitelist status. Advertising that meets certain standards can qualify for whitelist status from the ad-block app publisher itself. One example is Adblock’s Acceptable Advertising Initiative.

Circumventing Ad-Block Apps

One irony of ad blocking is people who use the software are more likely to interact with the advertising they do see. Therefore, some advertisers allocate most of their advertising budget to publishers who are able to block most ad-blocking apps on their sites. These companies, such as Facebook and Snapchat, do reduce the chance that an advertiser’s ads are blocked, but they also exert a high level of control over the ads that they will accept. There’s also no guarantee that all ad-blocking software won’t eventually be able to block these ads.

Other businesses use software, such as PageFair or SourcePoint, to block ad blockers. This solution is effective, but it may jeopardize the relationship publishers have with readers. Publishers may also offer native apps for mobile users, which circumvents the whole problem of ad blockers.

A better long-term approach is the use of respectful advertising. Respectful advertising emphasizes the use of well-designed, native advertising that doesn’t use sound, user tracking or other intrusive techniques to sell products or gain information about users. This type of advertising not only meets whitelist requirements made by ad-block apps, but it also seeks to retain the trust of its viewers.

As ad block usage increases as a response to privacy concerns and advertising overload, advertisers will be forced to find new ways to reach their targeted customers. Currently, respectful advertising seems to be the best option for advertisers, but ad-block blocking software is also gaining popularity. However, experts don’t believe that ad blocking will ever eliminate advertising usage. After all, Adblock Plus asked customers to donate money, so they could buy their own advertising.


 

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