Ad blocking is the industry’s fault

ad block

The IAB ad blocking study is interesting but not surprising. Hopefully it will be a catalyst for more digital advertisers to do better work.

In a nutshell, 15% of the online population actively uses ad blocking software. They do it to block all ads and even when told that the ads pay for the ‘free’ content; many don’t care.

Dig deeper & see that the ad blockers over index in the holy ‘Millennial’ age bracket suggesting the 15% will increase over time. The primary motivation is because of interruption & annoyance. More specifically, interruption of content consumption, high frequency, poor build / design, lazy targeting & the creepiness factor.


These reasons seem perfectly justifiable. People turn to digital channels to perform a task, be entertained or find information. The best digital ads are enablers, not inhibitors; precisely why the lion’s share of  digital investment goes to search.

Even so; there are many digital media buyers out there spending money on inhibiting ad units; there is even one called a ‘Page Grabber’ that does exactly what it says on the tin. Rich Media ads like this are sold as being 100% viewable; and in a world where viewability is the north star buyers are falling over themselves for them. These same ads achieve fantastic CTRs because of “the engagement” rather than people just trying to shut them down. Even  pop ups are back in video form and the industry claps. Don’t we learn from the mistakes of the past?

There aren’t many people in our industry stupid enough to realise ads of this ilk (along with all the poorly targeted banners etc) can damage a brand and that the responses aren’t real so why do they buy them? There are a few reasons but a big one is to hit proxy scorecard metrics that don’t really inform much. This is short term thinking and compounds the problem.

How do we get the 15% back on side and stop the rise of ad blockers? The answers seem simple. The most exciting thing happening right now is at the junction between ad technology and media. It is possible to run laser targeted, relevant. dynamic ad campaigns that fit the environment. Be mindful of cross device frequency, test and optimise rigorously to get the mix right and repeat. Never forget the importance of the creative; that sounds so obvious but it happens and is the main reason for ad blocking.

Publishers need to redesign pages with elegant, responsive & viewable ad positions that work across devices. Clients need to stop driving down prices so far that publishers have to sell, and agencies buy; bargain basement or intrusive /interruptive / creepy ads that superficially ‘work’. If everything carries on as it is then expect the 15% to rise considerably year on year.

About alan king

I have been learning digital media since 2000. All thoughts are my own and have nothing to do with my company.
This entry was posted in Content, Digital Media, Media Owners, Mobile, Programmatic, thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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