Have you ever tried to negotiate with a six-year-old? Good luck. It’s easier to talk with demanding customers or staff than with a six-year-old determined to get their hands on that box of Coco Pops on the supermarket shelf. Two weeks of eating their vegetables every night in exchange for a box of sugary cereal that turns the milk chocolatey? Or how about we restrict their screen time? Because if it weren’t for the adverts, this kid might never have heard of Coco Pops. If I could place an ad blocker on the television, would I indulge?
As a parent, hearing those jingles over and over, I might be tempted, but as an advertiser, I know that advertising content has value—we just need to figure out how to deliver it in a way that engages, not irritates, our audience.
The Adblock Epidemic
We’ve got some work to do. Results from recent research are not pretty:
- 11 percent of the global Internet population now blocks ads, and this number is increasing by 30 percent each year.
- The penetration of adblockers has reached 29 percent in Germany and 16 percent in the UK, both above the global average.
- These figures are growing quickly, especially in APAC, where mobile ad blockage jumped 40 percent in 2016–2017.
- Those most likely to use ad blockers are the younger, more tech-savvy users, although the demographic appears to be widening, and older people are picking up the pace as well.
On the mobile side, 615 million mobile devices now have ad blockers, and 74 percent of mobile device owners say they’ll leave a website if it blocks their adblocker. This is huge. Mobile is supposed to be the big growth area. We’re losing audiences at an accelerating pace, eroding the effectiveness of what we do, which requires reaching those large-scale audiences.
This adblocker situation has been a problem for several years, and the industry seems to be ignoring it. Agencies are still buying from ad networks and investing a ton of money in performance advertising, which is the main driver here, because people get sick of irrelevant ads and spammy techniques. We are getting smarter, using data to ensure that we are delivering relevant ads, but so far, it’s not enough to stop people from using adblockers.
We need to put ad blocking back on the agenda, to talk about it, and come up with ways to engage customers so thoroughly that they want to see our advertising content. Brands, agencies, and ad tech vendors all have to be driving this agenda. The way to fix this problem is to tackle it at its roots. The industry has to be smarter about what we do with data and technology.
Block the Adblockers by Putting Customers First
Adobe’s digital marketing platform is all about creating experiences, rather than inundating people with spray-and-play ads until they click. With Adobe Experience Cloud’s suite of tools, we can be sure to deliver the right message to the right audience in the right environment, engaging our audiences with relevant, meaningful ads so they enjoy the experience.
Omnichannel marketing systems such as Adobe’s serve ads across multiple channels and devices, using lots of data. We’re able to identify what people are watching and reading to learn what they like. We can use what we know to target audiences and deliver great experiences. How might that play out?
Maybe you’re selling a holiday. One of your target customers, Jessica, is a 23-year-old woman living in London, whose job keeps her on the run. She’s looking for an escape from the daily grind. At home, while watching Scandal on linear TV, she sees an ad for a chain of tropical resorts.
Because the TV ad is delivered via an addressable service, you know the viewer is in a big city, so your ad emphasises solitude and relaxation. Using Ad Cloud, you not only know that Jessica saw the ad, but that she’s a young adult, so the next day, when Jessica is on her mobile device, you show her an ad with an offer tailored to a young person’s budget. Jessica jumps at the offer and heads to the resort. There, while she’s relaxing at the pool drinking a daiquiri and watching a video on her tablet, the hotel delivers a great offer for dinner for one at its restaurants.
Another customer, Allison, is also 23 years old, but she’s from a much smaller, much less hectic city. She’s a social butterfly and always wants to be where the action is. While she’s watching the latest episode of The Bachelor on her Connected TV, she sees an ad for the same resort, but this time advertising a poolside concert and party.
Through Ad Cloud’s device graph, you know that she saw the concert ad, so the next day, while she’s on her laptop searching for vacation getaways, you deliver her the same travel package as Jessica, via a search ad. And she’s off! While at the resort, Allison pulls up Facebook to post some photos. Knowing that she converted from the earlier offer, the hotel uses data from Adobe Analytics to target her newsfeed with a video ad advertising backstage passes at that night’s concert.
The same audience. The same objective. Two vastly different journeys. Two vastly different experiences. It’s the best of every world since you’ve not only made your customers happy, but you get to do one of the most exciting, creatively satisfying, and rewarding tasks we’ve ever had in front of us as marketers—creating great advertising experiences that wow your customers!
Focus on the Experience, Not the Sale
There’s some recent good news to point the way. A survey by the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that two-thirds of adblock users could be persuaded to turn them off. Four of the five methods for convincing them are all about improving the user experience:
- Eliminate auto-play audio or video in ads
- Eliminate ads that block content or follow the user down the screen
- Guarantee safety from malware and viruses
- Ensure that ads do not slow down browsing performance
Another approach is native advertising that focuses on content, not sales. A great example is a collaboration between Netflix and The Wall Street Journal for the launch of the Netflix show “Narcos.” The resulting piece reads like real journalism but carries disclaimers from the WSJ that it is sponsored content. There are no call to action buttons, no blockage of content, or any other distractions that scream “this is an ad!”
The message here is clear: people want a better experience. They don’t want to be bombarded by cheap techniques such as autoscrolling ads. Too few advertisers are thinking about this right now. If we don’t start providing users with a better experience, engaging them the way those cereal commercials engage my six-year-old, they’ll keep turning away by installing adblockers. As I said at the start, we need to talk. Here’s a great place to start—leave your comments below. And be sure to click through, to read about how Kiip is solving the problem in an imaginative way.